Femme Fatale and Status Fatale: A Cross-Cultural Perspective

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This article presents the results of a cross-cultural survey of 78 cultures that documented (through the use of folklore, ethnographic accounts, and interviews with ethnographers) the presence or absence of a femme fatale (a dangerous woman), and a “status fatale” (a dangerous man). We found that 94% of the cultures had images of a femme fatale, whereas only 42% of the sampled cultures had images of a status fatale. Our sample revealed that emotional involvement, rather than sexual gratification, was the primary motivation for becoming involved with a stranger who possessed qualities deemed culturally most desirable in the opposite sex. The significance of the findings is related to contemporary debates in evolutionary psychology and cultural anthropology.


Anthropology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology

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