Desire in the Face of Death: Terror Management, Attachment, and Sexual Motivation

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Four studies examined the impact of mortality salience (MS) on sexual motivation. In Studies 1–3, participants were primed with death‐related thoughts and then rated their desire to engage in sex in different contexts. Study 4 included an assessment of reasons for engaging in sex. Results showed that MS increased the desire for romantic sex, regardless of gender, and the desire for casual sex among more avoidant men. Sexual desire was fueled by distinct patterns of motives among highly anxious and avoidant people. These findings suggest that the variety of meanings sexual behavior has for different people may explain why, in some cases, sexual behavior may function as a defense against mortality concerns, whereas in other cases, it may exacerbate threat.

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Personal Relationships, v. 18, issue 1, p. 1-19.