Sex + Relationships

New Research: Stressed-out Men Prefer Heavier Women

When I get stressed I scarf down Chinese takeout like it’s no one’s business.

According to a recently published study, when men get stressed they prefer heavier women.


For the study, researchers gathered 81 men ages 18 to 42, and assigned half to be the control group and the other half to undergo the Trier Social Stress Test. As part of the stress test, participants were given ten minutes to prepare for an unplanned job interview.

The men were asked to introduce themselves to a committee and attempt to convince the committee that they were suitable for the job post. Participants were required to speak for five minutes, and were told that the committee was trained to monitor non-verbal behavior, and that video analysis would be conducted afterward. After five minutes of selling themselves for the job, the committee asked participants to answer basic math problems as fast as they could.

Basically the test is every college student’s worst nightmare.

Afterward, both the unstressed group of men and the stressed group of men viewed images of ten women, with body types ranging from emaciated to obese, and were asked to rank them based on their attractiveness.

The images were numbered on a 1-10 scale, with one representing the image of the thinnest woman shown and ten representing the image of the most obese woman shown. The stressed men preferred a heavier woman, with their ideal figure being a 4.44. The unstressed men idealized the thinner side of the scale, with their ideal figure a 3.90.

The largest body type to be considered attractive by the stressed men was 7.17, which fell into the overweight category on the body mass index (BMI) scale. The largest body type to be considered attractive by the unstressed men was 6.25, which is normal weight on the BMI scale.

Researchers used the data to support the claim that body size preferences are not innate, but may be influenced by our particular environment and resources.

I used the data to support the claim that when my crush calls to tell me about his stressful day, I should call a delivery service and order some more Chinese takeout.

By  Juliana LaBianca

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