British researchers found that men exposed to tasks that were designed to put them under pressure preferred a wider range of female body sizes. They conclude that stress can act to alter judgments of potential partners. The work by a team from London and Newcastle is published in the open access journal Plos One.
To simulate heightened stress, a test group of men were placed in interview and public speaking scenarios and their BMI preferences compared against a control group of non-stressed men. The results indicated that the change in “environmental conditions” led to a shift of weight preference towards heavier women with the men considering a wider range of body sizes attractive.
The research supports other work that has shown perceptions of physical attractiveness alter with levels of economic and physiological stress linked to lifestyle. Moreover, the researchers were keen to emphasize how fluctuating environmental conditions could alter the popular perception of an “ideal” body size.
“There’s a continual pushing down of the ideal, but this preference is flexible. Changing the media, changing your lifestyle, all these things can change what you think is the ideal body size,” he said.
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Source: BBC News
Image: International Business Times