Professor Terry F. Pettijohn II from the Coastal Carolina University, along with colleagues from Miami University and West Virginia University recently decided to investigate whether people’s preferences for a mate might vary according to whether they feel hungry or not. For, according to the Environmental Security Hypothesis (ESH) individuals’ interpersonal preferences may partially depend on how secure or insecure they feel regarding their surroundings at any given time.
Over the course of two weeks, investigators asked 328 students at a university dinning hall (who had varying self-reported degrees of hungriness) about their ideal romantic partners. Analysis of the responses showed up clear patterns.
“…hungry males preferred females with more physically mature features, specifically females who were relatively heavier, taller, and older.”
The answers were broadly consistent with the implications of the ESH – which suggests that societal threat or economic resource scarcity (e.g. being hungry) leads to an elevated preference for ‘more mature others’.
It should be noted though that there are apparently differences between hungry male students and hungry female students.
“Hungry men prefer female partners who are physically more mature and hungry women prefer male partners with more mature personality profiles”
say the researchers.
There are, however, caveats which might partially cloud the results – for example “College students may not always eat nutritiously, but there is abundant food available on and around the college campus.” In other words, US college students might get hungry, but probably not often to a degree which would threaten their survival.
And the team point out that there are yet more questions to be answered – such as “Does appetite for food result in an increased desire for more of everything, not just mate characteristics?” [our italics]
The research paper is published in the Journal of Social, Evolutionary and Cultural Psychology, 3(3), 216-232, and can be read in full here
More Professor Terry F. Pettijohn II research which found that pop music performers with larger chins tend to be more predominant during “relatively threatening social and economic conditions.“ Details here