Harsh Environment Shifts Men’s Preferences To Heavier Females

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Carlota Batres, Ph.D. Perception Lab School of Psychology and Neuroscience University of St Andrews UK

Dr. Carlota Batres,

Carlota Batres, Ph.D.
Perception Lab
School of Psychology and Neuroscience
University of St Andrews

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The background for this study is that previous research had found that people in different environments prefer different faces, which suggests that preferences change according to the environment. However, because previous research had never tracked the same participants across environmental changes, such a link could not be confirmed. Therefore, we sought to determine if, and to what extent, face preferences were malleable by repeatedly testing participants whose environment was not changing as well participants undergoing intensive training at an army camp.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: The main finding from our study is that the participants in the training camp reported changes in multiple stressors as well as showed changes in weight preferences. More specifically, increases in the harshness of their environment led to an increased male attraction to cues of higher weight in female faces.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Readers should take away that face preferences appear to be very malleable depending on the environment. In our study, the change in preferences manifested itself after just 3 days in the training camp, suggesting that preferences shift rather quickly. This suggests that the preferences of the readers would also change if they are exposed to different environments. Moreover, real-world changes in the environment may elicit even stronger changes in preferences than the ones we observed in our study.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Our sample size was sufficient to establish preference changes in men’s female weight preferences, yet it will require more extensive samples and more specific environmental challenges to distinguish which variables (e.g., psychological state, physical state) are responsible for such changes. Therefore, for future research, I would recommend using larger female samples and changing only one variable of harshness in order to pin down which specific stressors elicit preference changes.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: We also found that at baseline, the participants in the training camp preferred more feminine male faces that the control participants. This suggests that even before the training commenced, participants in the training camp may have been in a psychological state that predisposed them to prefer more trustworthy (i.e., more feminine) men. Future research is thus needed to examine the psychological differences between participants entering a harsh environment and those remaining in their normal environment.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.


Batres, C., Perrett, D. I. (2016), How the Harsh Environment of an Army Training Camp Changes Human (Homo sapiens) Facial Preferences. Ethology. doi: 10.1111/eth.12571

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