Two studies examined the moderating effects of right wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation on the relationship between terrorist images (soldiers versus criminals) and preference for counterterrorist actions (military aggression versus criminal prosecution). Study 1 indicated that the perception of Al-Qaeda terrorists as soldiers was related to preference for military counterterrorism, especially among people high in social dominance orientation. The relationship between the perception of Al-Qaeda terrorists as criminals and preference for the criminal prosecution of terrorists was strengthened among those high in right wing authoritarianism. Study 2 showed that when terrorists were framed as soldiers, social dominance orientation was related to support for military counterterrorism. When terrorists were framed as criminals, only people who endorsed high levels of right wing authoritarianism supported criminal prosecution of terrorists. Social dominance orientation was related to opposition towards military counterterrorism when terrorists were not perceived as soldiers or framed as criminals. It was also related to opposition towards criminal prosecution of terrorists when terrorists were framed as criminals. The findings suggest that different terrorist images are related to preference for counterterrorism that corresponds with the content of the images and individuals' chronic ideological orientations. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.