Researchers have found during times of stress, they are attracted to heavier women.
The study suggests if work or finances are playing on their minds, they are more likely to turn to a lady with the figure of shapely Nigella Lawson than skinny Angelina Jolie.
Psychologists at the University of Westminster in London tested 80 white British men of normal weight – of which half underwent a difficult group interview exercise designed to make them feel uneasy.
Afterwards they all looked at a series of pictures of women of varying sizes from emaciated to obese.
While none of the men found the most extreme bodies at either end of the spectrum attractive, those in the 'stress' group showed a marked preference for those on the heavier side.
Lead author Dr Viren Swami said when socioeconomic or personal circumstances are threatening or uncertain, men go for 'more mature' physical characteristics.
The researchers believe this is because men subconsciously think these women will also be mature in personality and better able to handle a crisis.
Dr Swami said: 'Body size appears to be an important signal of both physical and psychological maturity…
'Physical maturity is associated with the ability to handle threatening situations and may communicate attributes such as strength, control and independence during periods when such qualities should be most desired.'
The 40 men who had not undergone a stress test had a narrower range of women they considered attractive – who tended to be slim.
But those who had the stress test not only rated a larger woman as their 'ideal' body type, they found a wider range of body sizes attractive right up to some of the most overweight women.
Scientists call this the 'Environmental Security Hypothesis' which suggests our attractions change depending on our circumstances.
The authors said: 'We found that the experience of stress shifted men's body size preferences, such that heavier female body sizes were rated more positively.
'That is, men in who were stressed rated women of normal weight, overweight, and partially at least, obese BMI categories as more attractive than the control group.'
They added that this may explain reports that some cultures, in which many people are deprived of resources, are known to value a larger body size than societies where most people's material needs are met. 'Such body types are associated with better ability to handle environmental threat', they said writing in the journal PLoS ONE (KEEP). In 2008, researchers who looked through 46 years of Playboy centrefolds concluded that the models had larger waists in recession years.