Stressed Men Go for Novelty in Sex Partners

Men suddenly choose women who don't look like them
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2010 11:28 AM CST
Stress can change a man's idea of an attractive woman.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Men who are under stress choose different women as sex partners than they do under normal circumstances, a new study shows. Men tend to be attracted to women whose facial features are like their own, but if stress is added to the equation, they flip to females who don’t resemble them at all. The German researchers surmise that there's an evolutionary advantage to an impulse, when a male is in a stressful situation, to widen the gene pool.

“Chronically stressful environments should increase outbreeding,” a researcher tells the Guardian. “Inbreeding may lead to offspring that are not genetically diverse enough” to deal with the stress. The study split men into two groups, and made one dip their hands into cold water to stress them out. They then looked at pictures of nude females, some of whose faces were digitally altered to resemble the participant. The non-stressed subjects liked similar women 14% more than dissimilar ones. Stressed subjects preferred the dissimilar women by 9%.

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