Researchers, led by Viren Swami of the University of Westminster in London, compared how stressed versus non-stressed men responded to pictures of female bodies varying from emaciated to obese.
They found that the stressed group gave significantly higher ratings to the normal weight and overweight figures than the non-stressed group did, and that the stressed group generally had a broader range of figures they found attractive than the non-stressed group did.
These results, the authors write, are consistent with the idea that people idealize mature morphological traits like heavier body size when they experience an environmental threat such as stress.
The study was recently published in the open access journal PLOS ONE.
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