Study suggests men tend to judge overweight men less harshly than women. Photo by bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock
SURREY, England, April 7 (UPI) -- Both men and women tended to rate women with a higher body mass index as less attractive, but men were less harsh when rating the attractiveness of other men in a recent study, researchers say.
Researchers in England had male and female study participants conduct interviews of other men and women. Afterward, they were asked to rate the attractiveness of the interviewee. Their scores were analyzed for the relationship between body size and perceived beauty.
The findings suggest men are less harsh when judging their fellow men with high BMIs, while both men and women rated larger women as less attractive.
"This is the first study that looks at the relationship between BMI and attractiveness, from both gender's perspective," Sonia Oreffice, an economist at the University of Surrey, said in a news release.
Oreffice and her research partners at Surrey and the University of Oxford say perceptions of size and beauty play a significant role in wage disparities, with some research suggesting women with higher BMIs earn less than their smaller peers -- all else being equal.
Men seem to be immune to these types of size-related socioeconomic regressions.
"When it comes to 'beauty', being an overweight woman is judged negatively by both sexes whereas men are a lot more forgiving towards each other," Oreffice said. "There is plenty of research that shows how beauty is related to socioeconomic detriment, from schooling to crime to wages."
"Similar research also explores the negative correlation with BMI but what we have shown is that weight is intrinsically linked to attractiveness and that women are the harshest judges and most harshly judged," she said. "Perhaps BMI is not able to distinguish fat from muscular mass, and this is particularly important for male BMI"
Applying the relationship they found between size and beauty to wage patterns, researchers say the height of women, and both the height and BMI of men, explained wages better than beauty after accounting for health.
The new research was published in the journal Economics and Human Biology.