Sex Roles

, Volume 80, Issue 5–6, pp 262–276 | Cite as

On the Prowl: Examining the Impact of Men-as-Predators and Women-as-Prey Metaphors on Attitudes that Perpetuate Sexual Violence

  • Jarrod BockEmail author
  • Melissa Burkley
Original Article


A common metaphor used to describe heterosexual relationships frames men as predators and women as prey. The present work assessed potential consequences of these metaphoric portrayals. Participants read a heterosexual dating scenario that did or did not metaphorically frame the situation in predator and prey terms. Using a U.S. college undergraduate sample of 120 women and 82 men in Study 1, exposure to these metaphors led to greater rape myth acceptance among men (but not among women). Using a broader sample of 76 women and 72 men via MTurk, Study 2 replicated these results and also found metaphor exposure led to greater rape myth acceptance and rape proclivity. Furthermore, a mediation analysis indicated that men exposed to these metaphors were more likely to accept rape myths, which in turn predicted their self-reported greater rape proclivity. Such results demonstrate the harmful outcomes that can result from describing romantic interactions where men are the predators and women are the prey.


Animalization Dehumanization Metaphors Predator Prey Sexual aggression Rape myth acceptance 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise, in any part of the research process.

Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

11199_2018_929_MOESM1_ESM.docx (19 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 18 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA

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