Men's sex-dominance inhibition: Do men automatically refrain from sexually dominant behavior?

Amy K. Kiefer, Diana T. Sanchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Men receive conflicting messages about their sexual roles in heterosexual relationships. Men are socialized to initiate and direct sexual activities with women; yet societal norms also proscribe the sexual domination and coercion of women. The authors test these competing hypotheses by assessing whether men inhibit the link between sex and dominance. In Studies 1a and b, using a subliminal priming procedure embedded in a lexical decision task, the authors demonstrate that men automatically suppress the concept of dominance following exposure to subliminal sex primes relative to neutral primes. In Studies 2 and 3, the authors show that men who are less likely to perceive sexual assertiveness as necessary, to refrain from dominant sexual behavior, and who do not invest in masculine gender ideals are more likely to inhibit dominant thoughts following sex primes. Implications for theories of automatic cognitive networks and gender-based sexual roles are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1617-1631
Number of pages15
JournalPersonality and social psychology bulletin
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


  • Dominance
  • Gender differences
  • Implicit associations
  • Passivity
  • Sexual behavior


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