Dr. Alexandre Courtiol of the University of Sheffield in England and colleagues at the Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution de Montpellier in France collected data from 100 heterosexual couples living in Montpellier, France.
They used software that allowed participants to easily modify a silhouette on a computer screen into their ideal body shape, to measure preferences for body morphology. The researchers compared the ideal silhouettes of the study subjects' partners.
The researchers say the actual partners are of a different height, weight and body mass index than those the subjects would ideally choose.
"Whether males or females win the battle of mate choice, it is likely for any trait, what we prefer and what we get, differs quite significantly," Courtiol says in a statement. "This is because our ideals are usually rare or unavailable and also because both sexes express preferences while biological optimum can differ between them."
The study, published in the Journal PLoS ONE, says the lower dissatisfaction observed for men in this particular study was restricted to some physical traits -- the results may be different for other traits such as personality, political opinion or sense of humor, which can also be important factors in partner choice.