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

Mark J. Landau, Jeff Greenberg, Sheldon Solomon, Andy Martens, Jamie L. Goldenberg, Omri Gillath, Cathy Cox, Tom Pyszczynski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


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,

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-146
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Gender
  • Physical attraction
  • Sexism
  • Sexuality
  • Terror management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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