Widely-used fear questionnaires may exaggerate sex differences because they do not ensure sex invariance of items and conflate anxiety with fear. Beginning with 50 descriptions of fear-eliciting situations, we used Rasch analysis to identify sex-invariant items and Mokken analysis to establish unidimensional scalability. The resulting 27-item Situated Fear Questionnaire (SFQ) correlated highly with the widely-used Fear Survey Schedule, while demonstrating better discrimination between anxiety and fear. Sex differences in three samples were all in excess of d = 1.00 and were not explained by gender role adherence or anxiety levels. The hedonic tone associated with fear situations (ranging from distressing/alarming to thrilling/exhilarating) was rated as more positive by men and this was only partially explained by their lower reported fear.