The Siren's call: Terror management and the threat of men's sexual attraction to women

Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ85721-0068, USA.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 5.08). 02/2006; 90(1):129-46. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.90.1.129
Source: PubMed


Why do sexually appealing women often attract derogation and aggression? According to terror management theory, women's sexual allure threatens to increase men's awareness of their corporeality and thus mortality. Accordingly, in Study 1 a subliminal mortality prime decreased men's but not women's attractiveness ratings of alluring women. In Study 2, mortality salience (MS) led men to downplay their sexual intent toward a sexy woman. In Study 3, MS decreased men's interest in a seductive but not a wholesome woman. In Study 4, MS decreased men's but not women's attraction to a sexy opposite-sex target. In Study 5, MS and a corporeal lust prime increased men's tolerance of aggression toward women. Discussion focuses on mortality concerns and male sexual ambivalence.

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    • "In line with this, research shows that existential anxiety intensifies the desire to distance oneself from animals and from one's body: MS increases disgust reactions to situations involving bodily products (Goldenberg et al., 2001), and viewing pictures of bodily waste increases the accessibility of death-related thoughts (Cox, Goldenberg , Pyszczynski, & Weise, 2007). Mortality primes have also been shown to increase men's dislike toward sexually attractive, seductive women and their tolerance for violence against a woman (Landau et al., 2006). The finding that MS led laypeople and municipal judges alike to recommend higher bonds for a woman arrested for prostitution (Rosenblatt, Greenberg, Solomon, Pyszczynski, & Lyon, 1989) can similarly be read as death anxiety increasing punitive impulses toward a violator of the purity ⁄ sanctity foundation. "
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    ABSTRACT: We combine ideas from terror management and moral foundations theories to analyze the role of existential and moral concerns in the creation and escalation of intergroup conflict. We argue that moral values, as important components of cultural worldviews, serve to buffer existential anxiety. Perceived threats to one’s moral values thus are capable of inducing existential anxiety and unleashing strong moral emotions, creating the psychological impetus for intergroup conflict and violence. We review evidence that threats to the five core moral intuitions posited by moral foundations theory (harm/care, fairness/reciprocity, ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity) are associated with existential anxiety and that this contributes to intergroup strife and violence. Moral and existential concerns combine to create a vicious feedback loop that leads to self-perpetuating spirals of violence, which helps explain the intractability of many real-life conflicts.
    Social and Personality Psychology Compass 11/2011; 5(11). DOI:10.1111/j.1751-9004.2011.00397.x
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    • "opportunities for excellence despite substantial risk of failure (Landau & Greenberg, 2006); presumably these individuals possess positive self-views capable of coping with potential failure. "
    Handbook of Social Psychology, 06/2010; , ISBN: 9780470561119
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    • "p>.10. The incident report, fashioned after materials described in Landau et al. (2006) and made to resemble an actual police report, included details about the crime including a summary from the responding officer and statements from the victim and perpetrator. According to the summary, the perpetrator was talking to a person of the other gender at the bar when the victim approached and stepped between the two. "
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    ABSTRACT: Two studies test the hypotheses that men, relative to women: 1) see manhood as a more elusive, impermanent state than womanhood, and 2) understand aggression as a means of proving or re-establishing threatened manhood, but not threatened womanhood. In Study 1 (N = 175 Northeastern U.S. undergraduates), men’s (but not women’s) sentence completions revealed tendencies to define manhood by actions and womanhood by enduring traits. In Study 2 (N = 113 Southeastern U.S. undergraduates), men were more likely than women to explain a man’s physical aggression in primarily situational terms, whereas men and women did not differ in the attributions they made for a woman’s physical aggression. Results suggest that men perceive active and aggressive behaviors as integral parts of manhood and its defense. KeywordsPrecarious manhood-Physical aggression-Gender roles-Human gender differences
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