Hungry people prefer larger bodies and objects: The importance of testing boundary effects

Tamsin Saxton, Kris McCarty, Jasmine Caizley, Dane McCarrick, Thomas Pollet

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Abstract

Several lab-based studies have indicated that when people are hungry, they judge larger women’s bodies as more attractive, compared to when they are satiated. These satiety-dependent judgements are assumed to provide explanatory power when it comes to the noted cross-cultural differences in attitudes towards women’s adiposity, whereby people who live in regions that are under greater nutritional stress tend to have more favourable attitudes towards bigger bodies. However, it is premature to assume that women’s bodies are the proper or actual domain of the satiety-dependent judgement shifts found within research study testing contexts until stimuli other than female bodies have also been tested: the research programme falls into the trap of confirmation bias unless we also seek out disconfirmatory evidence, and test the boundaries of the effects of hunger. Accordingly, we collected attractiveness judgements of female and male bodies manipulated to vary in size by varying level of adiposity, and objects manipulated to vary in size, from 186 participants who also reported their current hunger level. We found that larger sizes of stimuli in general, and women’s bodies in particular, especially when judged by women, were judged as more attractive by the hungrier participants. We discuss these patterns in the context of the Insurance Hypothesis, the Environmental Security Hypothesis, and the impact of hunger on acquisition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-507
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Volume111
Issue number3
Early online date2 Aug 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020

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