We assessed whether violent or macabre interests (“sensational interests”) were related to mating effort and a higher-order personality construct reflecting the combined features of higher Extraversion, lower Psychoticism, and lower Neuroticism in 1321 participants from English-speaking (Tucson, Arizona, and Glasgow, Scotland) and Spanish-speaking (Hermosillo, Mexico, and Talca, Chile) communities. Participants from Spanish-speaking communities generally had more sensational interests. Mating effort was positively related to sensational interests, though the relationship was slightly weaker in Spanish-speaking communities. Personality effects were modest and entirely moderated by language; personality was negatively related to sensational interests in English-speaking communities, but positively associated to sensational interests in Spanish-speaking communities. These findings suggest that the relationship between mating effort and sensational interests is universal and reflects general intrasexual competition, whereas the relationship between personality and sensational interests is more culture-specific.