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

University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, United States
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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Available from: Omri Gillath
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    • "Women's intense desire displays, by comparison, may be intimidating for men and provoke conflicting attitudes and emotions (Landau et al., 2006). Within the context of longterm relationships, men tend to value women's sexual faithfulness, and thus, women's intense expressions of sexual urges may raise worries about sexual infidelity (e.g., Buss, 1989; Buss et al., 1999). "
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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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