London: Men when they are under stress are likely to choose curvy women over a 'size zero' as they perceive voluptuous women to be 'more mature', a new study led by an Indian origin researcher has claimed. Psychologists at the University of Westminster in London found that if work or finances are playing on men's minds, they are more likely to turn to a lady with a shapely figure rather than a skinny one, a daily reported.

The study tested 80 white British men of normal weight – of which half underwent a difficult group interview exercise designed to make them feel uneasy.

Afterwards they all looked at a series of pictures of women of varying sizes from emaciated to obese.
While none of the men found the most extreme bodies at either end of the spectrum attractive, those in the 'stress' group showed a marked preference for those on the heavier side.

Lead author Dr Viren Swami said when socioeconomic or personal circumstances are threatening or uncertain, men go for 'more mature' physical characteristics.

The researchers believe this is because men subconsciously think these women will also be mature in personality and better able to handle a crisis.

"Body size appears to be an important signal of both physical and psychological maturity," Swami said.
"Physical maturity is associated with the ability to handle threatening situations and may communicate attributes such as strength, control and independence during periods when such qualities should be most desired," Swami was quoted as saying by the paper.

The 40 men who had not undergone a stress test had a narrower range of women they considered attractive – who tended to be slim.

But those who had the stress test not only rated a larger woman as their 'ideal' body type, they found a wider range of body sizes attractive right up to some of the most overweight women.

Scientists call this the 'Environmental Security Hypothesis' which suggests our attractions change depending on our circumstances.

"We found that the experience of stress shifted men's body size preferences, such that heavier female body sizes were rated more positively," the authors said.

"That is, men in who were stressed rated women of normal weight, overweight, and partially at least, obese BMI categories as more attractive than the control group," they said. The study was published in the journal PLoS ONE.


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