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.
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.
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.
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!)
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Did they do the same test on stressed out women? I feel like this article shows that we care a lot less about what a woman prefers than what a man prefers, just given the fact we have no findings for stressed women. If this was supposed to be some method of making heavier women feel better about themselves, I think it may fail miserably, but other than that, I don't see the point. Everyone's stressed!
"I feel like this article shows that we care a lot less about what a woman prefers than what a man prefers"
That's because it's actually the truth. Society is more concerned about a woman's appearance than a man's, especially here in the United States. I can tell you right now that you guys have it easy.
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Women prefer to appear in the way that attracts men. How else can ultra-high heels, short skirts, makeup, etc. be rationalized? High heels make legs appear curvier, but eventually they ruin one's feet. Many of the processes women put themselves through are painful or uncomfortable in order to appear beautiful, and unfortunately beauty is usually defined by what men find attractive. It's just nature, I guess. I opted out of all of that years ago. I am a big woman who wears what she likes, which for me is no makeup, and usually peasant blouses and jumpers with patch pockets. I wear Birkenstock sandals all year.
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They prefer the guy with the biggest wallet.
There was an earlier study to see if women had preferences but the male researchers couldn't find anything.
Interesting... a man I know who used to date very attractive women, now dates overweight woman. That puzzled me. It is true that his life is very stressed.
So, overweight women are not considered attractive?
@ Kayse...I about died at that comment! Total chick response...so what are you saying, that im fat?
Kayse – Yes, that's correct. Overweight women are absolutely not attractive. In other news, the sky is blue and the sun rose in the east today.
Or maybe he can't attract "attractive" women anymore. ūüėõ Anyway, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If someone is attracted to a heavier woman, that makes her attractive.
I think it is the feeling of insecurity that often comes with being stressed. Men often want to feel secure and it goes back to the mothering desire. Heavier women tend to be more nuturing. Whether it's the comfort food you cook or the couch time spent with their head on your lap reassuring them that all will be ok!Often times the very beautiful spend a lot of time to look that way and the entire focus is me! Heavier women tend to be more partner oriented. I am speaking of myself. When I was skinny it took all my time and attention. As I got married+began to have kids my focus shifted to others first. With that came some weight,but also came a much less shallow person! I put others before myself and that alone is comforting.
Yeah right, because there just aren't ANY naturally attractive women......women like you LOVE to say stuff like that. Women that have great bodies earned them and men that aren't stressed out and are successful and have the energy to go for what they REALLY want aren't chasing chubbies.........just saying!
There are lots and lots of naturally thin women out there too. They can't be nurturing?
@Valerie; doesn't matter how attractive you may be, being rude and showing zero tact is very unattractive.
Thanks for the permission to "indulge in that brownie". I forgot that the only reason I stay in shape and maintain a healthy body is because otherwise men won't like me and all that chocolate is going to push me over the edge to chub town. Just report the science, not your "witty" commentary.
yeah, I noticed that right away too. Forget about health, just live for the attention from men.
The author was female...so maybe she was trying to commiserate or have a joke between women.
I didn't find that joke very funny either. Women like to dress up to please each other really. Men aren't that picky about clothes and make-up. When they are, women find them unattractive.
@saidso: You sure do spew a lot of bs. There are plenty of men who want there woman to look nice.
Seriously, I believe that stressed men are simply hornier and therefore less concerned with their image (being seen with a 'beautiful', slim model type) and more concerned with gettin some! Hence, the broadened selection process. (other stories on this topic state that stressed men widen their selection criteria, not that they prefer large women). Sheesh! Journalism is a very unreliable thing.
Just the memory of sexual release, prompted by photos, is enough to begin reducing stress. So, sadly, I have to agree with you, John. Sad because there are fantastic women of all shapes and sizes (as well as total b*****s). But since large women still struggle to be found attractive in some segments of Western society, the likely reason stressed men will deviate from that norm is the desire for stress relief. The more interesting question to me is whether their stress would be sufficiently relieved simply by looking at photos and thinking of sex, regardless of the woman in the image, or if they would actually go through with the physical act with a wider variety of potential partners. If they had the chance for actual sex and they had a variety of women to choose from, would they opt for a thinner one or a heavier one? What a man allows in his head is not always what he's willing to live out in reality.
sooooo many women -– i like all sizes -- makes for alot of fun
Seriously? This is such a crock!!! So a man has bo be stressed to be attracted to a heavy woman? Seriously. Lol!! The same person that did this article must be the same one that wrote the one about Heavy Backpacks trigger Back Pain. WTH?
Yeah, that's not what the article says. It says that stressed men are more likely to be attracted to larger women, not that they have to be stressed to be attracted to them. Lots of reading comprehension fails today on CNN.
How about this, Men like stressless relationships....? We don't do b**chning all the time, or even some of the time, we rather have a stressless relationship, and home enivornment. Attractive women seem to have a lot of demands or as we say that's high maintenance or too much to do...
Generalize much? So you are saying fit, attractive women are ALL B*&^hes and chubbies are all kind and gentle? Ahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!! You must be JOKING.
The reason could be that slender women are perceived as being higher-maintenance. I won't go into the reason why that might be.
I am an overweight woman and men have ALWAYS found me attractive. I have NEVER had a problem attracting men black or white. Recently I have been getting asked out by A LOT of white men. Im told all the time that larger women are better in everyway. I think women who take care of themselves regardless of their size are beautiful sexy creatures.
Keep telling yourself that.
I bet you give great head
Well, if overweight weren't delusional and in denial, obesity wouln't be such a big problem.
I have to agree @BrownSugarmama. I am also a big girl and before I was married I had no shortage of relationships. I have been very happily married now for almost 6 years to a wonderful skinny and very attractive man who respects me and who I am. I personally am one happy big girl!!
But I see the difference in big women and smaller women everyday. I work in an office with 17 other women. Looking around I see that the larger or overweight girls are all married, and have been for some time or are in very commited relationships. As I think about the smaller and "media idea of perfect body" women in my office that list is wrought with divorce, cheating (him AND her), never married or hoplessly clingy women.
Do we see the pattern here?
I hope no money was spent on this. What a waste of time, energy, and talent!
So men who are stressed out are looking for big women, because subconsciously they find them to be more nurturing than slender women. Now that insults slender women. Maybe their stressing because they remember that Mommy was a big women at some point in time, and they want their Mommy because they can't deal with the burdens of life. So lets give them a bottle and put them to bed!
Exactly! When times are hard for them, they want a MOMMY.
Let the big girls have em! I want a MAN, not a BOY.
I will never understand chubby chasers. (Unless you are a chub-a-lub as well) Remeber the song? Closer to the Bone – sweeter is the meat.
This is kinda true.
I met a chubby asian lady who had ZERO stretch marks and no jowels and I just wanted to frisk her off to a hotel but we were with friends so manners were involved. Oh yes she loves me now. Good thing is she is not high maintenance at all.
And you were under stress at the time?
Dang, this explains a lot.
Typical CNN feminist nonsense. If you actually look at the data, both groups maximally prefer underweight or "normal" weight figures. Reading into the data closely, what you can argue is that the "stressed" group of men disliked LESS obese and overweight women as compared to controls. Neither group gave overweight/obese women above a 5 on a 10 scale. I suppose you could argue therefore "stressed" men PREFER overweight/obese women, but that's like a study saying "stressed" men prefer drowning over public lynching - hardly a choice they'd like to make.
This really isn't a feminist article. Feminist articles don't pit women against each other. This is an article about why its ok to be slightly fat. Maybe because men are tired of being asked if they're too fat. "No honey, I'm really stressed... you look great!"
I wonder if the study controlled for preferences of study participants prior to the test. A sample size of 81 men may be too small and may not represent randomness reflective of the overall population. Need to read the study methodology.
I love this line – "Larger women are preferred when there is a threat, like limited food, because their bodies signify the ability to survive in hostile environments." Okay, to me that means if I'm stranded on an island or in the Andes Mountain (see "Alive") and I have a choice between Bertha and Twiggy, I'm picking Bertha 'cuz you know she ain't outrunnin' me and she has more...we'll call it 'sustanance'...than Twiggy does.
Yea... that did seem to be more of a threat. Didn't men used to prefer heavier women because they looked like they could survive giving birth? That was (and still is depending on where you live) the leading cause of death among women.
Umm... no. Statistically, women over a certain BMI are more likely to have complications from childbirth, as well as pregnancy in general. While a slightly higher than normal amount of body fat is fine and even possibly beneficial from an evolutionary standpoint, obesity is not healthy for the mother or the developing fetus.
I saw a young woman walking today who had a great big ole gut that hung way over her belt. I threw up a little in the back of my throat.
"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!)"
And thats where the author revealed her bias. Apparently its not OK to find heavier women attractive.
It thought that comment was harsh myself.
A man's solution to everything in life is Sex, as long as it's breathing (most men).
Most overweight women have low self-esteem and give it out on the first meeting in hopes that the man ill keep coming back to her.
True true and true. REAL attractive women can afford to be selective, as we should all be.
I'm stressed quite a bit with my great-paying job that I've had for 12 years. The only thing I'm looking for in a woman is someone who is fit, and able to be sweet / soothing... not argumentative. Unfortunately, all I seem to meet are the argumentative type. I have a slight bit of a Southern accent, and I think people here interpret that as being less intelligent than their snooty selves... although I do claim the 14th highest IQ test score ever achieved in the U.S. (which no one but my family knows about). I'm not a jerk to people, but I do get impatient with having an argument about *every* little thing and always ending up with myself being the correct one. Here is the pattern I've found: Women with smaller breasts are more argumentative; women with larger ones are more fun and easier to be with. I think this could be related to the study in that women with naturally larger ones tend to have a better personality... and by larger I don't mean huge (gross).
I can see why you're alone.
So don't complain when women only want a man with a fat wallet and huge C*&k, Joe redneck.
If you were a genius, why would you be spending your time posting pointless comments on the internet?
For all of your "claimed" intelligence, you never learned how to punctuate correctly. If you want to stop arguing, then learn how to DROP IT, instead of proving yourself correct all the time.
Problem is that no matter what your IQ is you are still ignorant of human relationships. Grow up, no one cares how smart you are.
What about women with fake, large breasts?
Based on the conclusion you made about personality and breast size, I won't be surprised if your IQ test was a mistake or you just got lucky.
And this is coming from someone who is naturally not small-breasted.
Women are "skinny" because they're trying to impress other women. They have their own hierarchies. Heterosexual men like to pretend that they have preferences but... not really. If all women looked and weighed the same, they'd still want to be with one no matter what their weight was.
You're confusing "settling" with "want."
As a 62 year old divorced male, with a ton of stress right now, I sill can't imagine being with a woman that looks like a 55 gallon drum.
However, as someone struggling to keep my own weight under control, I have much more tolerance for women that are somewhat over weight.
Too many men and women my age are still trying to find a mate with the body of a 20 year old athlete, which is why they don't ever find someone.
Well my take is, stressed men find heavier women attractive because they probably associated heavier women with lower maintenance. They probably feel they don't have to worry as much or try as hard with them.
what did these women look like first of all? It's not just weight it's everything. How can one assume that just being thin or heavy is a total measure of someone's attractiveness? This is too elementary of a study, I'm sorry...
Exactly. They could have been busty plus sized models compared with girls who are too skinny. This test is just plain dumb. I think it was created by insecure overweight women (fat chicks)
I sort of figured that sooner or later, being there are more and more fat, er, I mean pleasantly plump, young available ladies these days and their numbers will certainly increase in the years ahead, we will be adspting the phrase FAT IS BEAUTIFUl!. Got to love what's there or go without. It may be sad but true, the fat girl today will grow fatter as she grows older.
I notice how overweight and out of shape young people are these days too. You rarely find a slim one. Even ones that are not that fat are sporting a ton of unhealthy belly fat.
This study proves absolutely nothing. What if the stressed out guys just stopped caring about the test and felt like giving higher scores? You can't really coincide artificial short term stress with everyday stress. 81 people,wow?once psychologists prove to be total hacks who create inane generalizations. Don't trust them.
A study with 81 participants? Who even cares? It's completely meaningless. I wish the liberal media would stop acting as the translator for scientists because they absolutely suck at it.
My first guess would be that the group subject to the stress were feeling more empathetic as a result of their ordeal and subonciously were more drawn to the women with weight issues. You see this reaction in MMA fighting where two opponants who hate each other end up hugging after a grueling fight (sometimes the bad blood is real and not just hype). I think most people have a response like this after a terrible or stressful event were they feel giving and nurturing .
But hey, don't let that stop you from using this study to explain the evolutionary history of man. lol
To begin with, where did you find any liberal media? Second, you are not the arbiter of science around here or anywhere else. No one was aware of how dumb you were until you wrote that statement on the internet.
Well, that explains it. My ex MARRIED the leggy, skinny model-type that society says is the ideal, but he chased the chubby women. The one he dumped me for was morbidly obese. He was perpetually under self-induced stress. His explanation for why he preferred her was that while I cooked healthy dinners for him every night, she was the one who served him the fried chicken he really wanted.
Most men want the leggy, skinny model type. Your ex sounds like he is really a narcissist though. Narcissists are VERY big on image, but in actuality, will screw anything when no one is looking.
It depends on what you mean by the "model" type. Supermodels are usually about six feet tall and 110-115 pounds, basically a skeleton with skin. I don't know any men who would find that attractive. I'd certainly say they are more attracted to the Playboy model type; they are usually about the same weight but several inches shorter, so they are still quite slim but don't look like they are about to die.
Good Fried Chicken could beat Health food any day, but no matter what he said "it wasn't the fried Chicken"
Dammit! I KNEW I was fat!
My hubs is always stressed, and always tells me I am beautiful, but I don't believe him. Now I get it!!!
What if you weren't that stressed when you got together and then 15 years goes by and you both gained weight. But she was fatter in the beginning. Actually I am still sexy and I know it. I work out!
Actually, studies have shown that men are most attracted to women with a hip-to-waist ratio of .7. Women can be skinny or fat, but as long as their hip-to-waist ratio is around .7, than men will most likely find them attractive.
I kind of doubt that most men would find a 300 pound woman attractive, regardless of her waist-hip ratio.
Narcissus is a truth
Too many pastries
I like big butts & I cannot lie!
Eighty-one heterosexual, white men, aged 18 to 42, were put into two groups. Why did they choose only white men? Do men of other races not get stressed?
Because white men are most likely to work.
I must not ever experience stress as I have never found overweight women physically attractive.
I am short, 5'0" and I love my big guy 6'5" 350. I had a overactive thyroid all my life with nodules that kept me perpetually underweight. It got ripped out when I was 16 after they found cold nodules. So ya, I am 20 lbs heavier than I should be, but I look back at my pics when I was too thin and I look miserable in all of them. I have skinny minny kids but they are not underweight. I like my tall guys, and face it, if somebody looks too good, it may be because they look in the mirror too much. I think people should wear what they want for themselves, whether that be peasant shirts, or bright gaudy colors(my personal choice) or button up polo's. We women want the real you, if not, there is something wrong with us.
The reason they focused on what men want is because that is easily defined. Women are so crazy and complicated and selfish that they don't know what they want/ It changes from minute to minute and hour to hour. That is because their minds are always running full speed fueled by irrationality. I do know this: They want their career and money and they want all of your money too if you are a man. They don't remain hapy for very long no matter how much you help with the kids and laundry etc. (maybe 10 min) Then since they aren't happy they seek to make you as miserable as possible. They also never get over anything. If you are a man that toilet seat you left up by accident in 1991 will still be held against you in 2012.
Chuck, it sounds like you need to quit going out with girls and find a woman. It also sounds like you have some growing up to do too.
She left you for someone smarter, eh?
I have always like women that were a little on the round side. A 5'9" woman about twenty pounds over weight would be my perfect match. I am 5'11" and weigh 165 pounds so I am not heavy at all, just perfer my partner a little rounder.
This is a load of nonsense. Not all men want the stick figure women you see in modeling magazines. I love thick butts and round hips and stress has nothing to do with it.
So you are stressed out?
Wow what a lot of comments!I am 5'1O and I have weighed 110 and now weigh around 19O. It really should be a persons character that counts. Not all about looks. Skinny,medium,or fat. Guess I expect too much. P.S. I have been married for years+have 5 kids from 9-19. I have raised them to pick a mate by what they stand for,not what they weigh. As you all say- just saying
The stressed men are attracted to plump women for the same reason they would be more interested in a juicy cheeseburger than a stalk of celery. If you are stressed, you crave comfort. Plump women are perceived as maternal and nurturing. It's the mommy complex.
Who wants a skinny B yelling at them all the time lol. Sometimes chunkey women are less stressed out and much more calming to be around. Sometimes skinny girls are more worried about their looks then their relationships.
I don't think it has anything to do with stress. It's all about what you find attractive. Some men prefer skinny, some larger & just like some women prefer skinny guys or some like them to be bigger. Right?
Because stressed-out men also find slim women as attractive as the non-stressed out men, the conclusion should have been that stressed-out men find *more* women attractive than non-stressed-out men.
How much money was spent on this 'study' that could have been spent on a study that might have had more benefits to society?