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Study Hall: Women find healthier, less-stressed men more attractive


A new study published last week suggests that women may be subconsciously attracted to men who are healthier and less-stressed.

For Study Hall each week, we sort through the deluge of new medical studies and wordy white papers to bring you one that deserves your attention—in plain, healthy English.

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The next time you ask yourself, “What is it about that guy?” consider this: You may want to flirt with him because of his powerful immune system or his chilled-out demeanor.  A new study published last week in the journal Nature Communications suggests that women may be subconsciously attracted to men who are healthier and less-stressed.

The study: Researchers measured the immune system strength of 74 Latvian men in their 20s by administering a Hepatitis B vaccine and then testing their blood for antibodies. (The vaccine creates an immune response, and more antibodies mean a stronger immune system.) They also tested the men’s blood for levels of testosterone and cortisol (the stress hormone).  Then, they asked 94 women of the same age to rank the men’s appearances, based on photos, on a scale of 1-10.

The results: The men that the women found to be the most studly had stronger immune systems, higher testosterone, and lower cortisol levels, indicating less stress.  The women said the other men were “really nice.” (Just kidding!)

What it means:  Based on evolutionary principles, women seek men who will ensure that their offspring will be healthier, so this may be a case of that. But, it also may just indicate that men who are healthy on the inside are hotter on the outside, which, in our unscientific opinion, is generally true. —Allison Becker

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