Stressed-out men find heavier women attractive
August 9th, 2012
10:27 AM ET

Stressed-out men find heavier women attractive

Feel free to indulge in that brownie, ladies - especially if the man you've got your eye on is worried about a work project. A study published this week in the journal PLOS ONE shows men who are psychologically stressed find heavier women attractive.

The study

Eighty-one heterosexual, white men, aged 18 to 42, were put into two groups. The first group took the Trier Social Stress Test, which increased stress levels by asking participants to take on the role of a job applicant in front of a hiring committee. The second group was sent to a room to wait quietly.

Both groups were then shown images of women with various body mass indexes. Study participants evaluated the women's attractiveness on a scale of 1 (very unattractive) to 9 (very attractive). They were then asked to select the woman they found most attractive, the largest woman they found attractive and the smallest woman they found attractive.

The results

While both groups rated underweight women the same, the men with more stress gave significantly higher ratings to women in the normal and high BMI categories than their calmer counterparts. The stressed group's picks for the largest woman they found attractive was also much heavier, on average, than the control group's picks.

The take-away

Not much, if we're being honest. Scientists have long known that a society's ideal body size is shaped by their access to resources. Larger women are preferred when there is a threat, like limited food, because their bodies signify the ability to survive in hostile environments. In today's world, that threat can be as simple as the possibility of unemployment.

Even hunger has an impact on the male mind - previous studies have shown that hungry men find heavier women attractive, according to the study. (Yet another reason to keep the chocolate in your hands!)

iReporters: What beauty means to me

soundoff (213 Responses)
  1. Victor

    I'm guessing they think the fat chicks would be easier to get with and relieve some of that stress...the hot chicks would take work to get with and that just means more stress. Btw...I never realized that brothers were so strssed cause they like to hit the big booty...just sayin'

    August 13, 2012 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Baldheaded Fool

      "brothers" are stressed because they always have the highest unemployment rates, worst health, deal with police harassment, and overall bad luck.

      August 13, 2012 at 20:11 | Report abuse |
  2. DC

    But do heavy women like stressed men? I'm guess...no

    August 13, 2012 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Just the facts.

    I like heavy women because of their oversized cans.

    August 13, 2012 at 16:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • alex


      August 13, 2012 at 22:38 | Report abuse |
    • James

      Like it or not we have to go global. It is a neetcsisy not an option. It will happen.The real debate is only this:how will we manage this transition; and what form will the initial phase of global cohesion and governance take.The task before our species in this century is the creation of a rational and humane world order that will be basis of the next phase in human civilisation and the unfolding of life on earth.I hope we make it.

      September 13, 2012 at 20:45 | Report abuse |
  4. Helen

    Do stressed out men prefer heavier women? Well, look at MICHELLE OBAMA. The Pres is stressed and she is a fat a**. I rest my case!

    August 13, 2012 at 17:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Baldheaded Fool

      Michele is no salma hayek but i'm sure you're not either helen.

      August 13, 2012 at 20:12 | Report abuse |
  5. Baldheaded Fool

    Most American women these days are overweight so this study really means nothing. According to a recent study over one-third of white women are obese. So this means either prefer a fat american or import someone more concerned about their looks from another country like Venezuela.

    August 13, 2012 at 20:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. mwesigwa emma

    stress is all about failler to success i.e once you decline in your ambition even your next of kin starts doughting u .

    August 14, 2012 at 04:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Tayloao

    Men without stress and men with stress both like thinner and fitter girls. Men with stress are more likely to also like heavy women whereas men withou stress do not. Obvious conclusion...stressed out men will take whatever they can get

    August 14, 2012 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. JGN

    Wow Helen, if you think the svelte and sexy Michelle Obama is fat, you have a funny view of the world. You must think Kate Moss is slightly plump!

    August 14, 2012 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. JGN

    The aptly named 'baldheaded fool'; it's most American PEOPLE who are overweight these days, not just women. And have you taken a look at some of these 'other country' women once they have had a few children? In general in the world, younger women are slender and unless that particular society is starving, older women who have had to bear children and raise them tend to put on weight. So what's men's excuse?

    August 14, 2012 at 11:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Get a Mail Order Bride

      Sorry chump but I have to support the bald-headed man on this one. American women have quit even trying to look good for awhile now. Some of you have mustaches more visible than a man, chin hairs, enlarged tattoos all over your bodies (GROSS!) and you definitely quit trying after he puts a ring on it. A lot of latin, asian, and european women take great pride in how they look. american women can learn a lot from these women.

      August 26, 2012 at 17:13 | Report abuse |
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    August 18, 2012 at 04:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Stressed guy

    I'm the most stressed person I know. People tell me how stressed I am. Heck, I drink non stop to ease the stress and I DO NOT WANT any big chic, at all!

    August 21, 2012 at 23:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Robert

    Always enjoy more meat with my potatoes!!!!

    August 22, 2012 at 21:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Shreya

    I know what your mean. In todays enomocy its hard to find a job that pays well and is stable . I have discovered that if you just work hard and are consistent you can go places . Look at the poster of this page , they are oviously hard working and have just been consistent over time and are now enjoying at least what would appear as somewhat of a success. I would encourage everyone to just keep hustling and moving forward.

    September 11, 2012 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
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    October 10, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. lol smileyface

    I will be brutally honest and say that this article is biased. There is not enough substantial evidence to support this research. Why was it only 81 men where used for this research? Is that enough men to conduct VALID research?? Think people...Last time I checked it wasnt ILLEGAL ^_^ LOL

    October 14, 2012 at 18:26 | Report abuse | Reply
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    Europe, although it’s a small continent has culture steeping all through it. Compare East European women with West European women and you will find a world of differences. Women from the western part of the continent are perhaps more attuned toward the American way of life but if it is mystery you are looking at you should concentrate on the beautiful East European ladies.",

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