The Westminster University team said they separated 80 male volunteers into two groups and submitted one of the groups to stressful activities including mock job interviews and math exams, The Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.
The researchers, who published their findings in the PLoS ONE journal, said they then showed all of the men pictures of women with various body sizes and asked them to rate the attractiveness of the women.
The men who were submitted to the stressful activities chose a significantly larger body type as the "ideal" than the men in the control group, the research team said.
"The results provide the first experimental evidence that the experience of psychological stress shapes men's judgments of female body size," the researchers wrote. "Men experiencing stress not only perceive a heavier female body size as maximally attractive but also more positively perceive heavier female body sizes, and have a wider range of body sizes considered physically attractive."