Xue and Perrett recruited hundreds of males and females, whose ages ranged between 17 and 26, to participate in the study. Each was surveyed using a mobile phone app that depicted different bodies which varied based on fat percentage and body-mass index.

“Participants were… presented with an image of the same-sex body and were asked to adjust BMI and body fat percentage to reflect their own body shape, their ideal body shape, and the body shape that a heterosexual opposite-sex individual would find most attractive for short-term and long-term relationships,” the researchers described. “When presented with opposite-sex bodies, participants were asked to, again, adjust BMI and body fat percentage to reflect their own preferences in an opposite-sex body for short-term and long-term partners.”

Xue and Perrett found that women overestimated men’s preference for thinness in female partners. At the same time, men overestimated women’s preference for muscularity in male partners. (See figure above.)