ArticlePDF Available

Male Honor and Female Fidelity: Implicit Cultural Scripts that Perpetuate Domestic Violence



Two studies explored how domestic violence may be implicitly or explicitly sanctioned and reinforced in cultures where honor is a salient organizing theme. Three general predictions were supported: (a) female infidelity damages a man's reputation, particularly in honor cultures; (b) this reputation can be partially restored through the use of violence; and (c) women in honor cultures are expected to remain loyal in the face of jealousy-related violence. Study 1 involved participants from Brazil (an honor culture) and the United States responding to written vignettes involving infidelity and violence in response to infidelity. Study 2 involved southern Anglo, Latino, and northern Anglo participants witnessing a "live" incident of aggression against a woman (actually a confederate) and subsequently interacting with her.
Male Honor and Female Fidelity: Implicit Cultural Scripts
That Perpetuate Domestic Violence
Joseph A. Vandello
University of South Florida
Dov Cohen
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
Two studies explored how domestic violence may be implicitly or explicitly sanctioned and reinforced
in cultures where honor is a salient organizing theme. Three general predictions were supported: (a)
female infidelity damages a man’s reputation, particularly in honor cultures; (b) this reputation can be
partially restored through the use of violence; and (c) women in honor cultures are expected to remain
loyal in the face of jealousy-related violence. Study 1 involved participants from Brazil (an honor culture)
and the United States responding to written vignettes involving infidelity and violence in response to
infidelity. Study 2 involved southern Anglo, Latino, and northern Anglo participants witnessing a “live”
incident of aggression against a woman (actually a confederate) and subsequently interacting with her.
Relationship violence occurs across all cultures and social
groups. Ultimately, much of this conflict and violence between
male and female romantic partners derives from jealousy and
fidelity concerns (Buss, Larsen, Westen, & Semmelroth, 1992;
Daly, Wilson, & Weghorst, 1982). In Daly and Wilson’s (1988a,
1988b) review of spousal homicides across a wide range of cul-
tures, they concluded that in the majority of cases, the leading
motive is the male’s suspicion of infidelity or desertion. Although
male violence against women exists in all cultures, there is also
great cultural variation in patterns of domestic violence. Cultures
vary tremendously in the prevalence of domestic violence, both
cross-nationally and among cultural groups within nations (cf.
Heise, Pitanguy, & Germain, 1994; Straus & Smith, 1990; Van-
dello & Cohen, 2003). In addition, the events that trigger episodes
of violence may differ across cultures, and the “appropriate”
responses to these events may differ across groups as well. For
example, some cultures have social customs sanctioning murder of
women in response to the most egregious infractions to family
“honor” (Baker, Gregware, & Cassidy, 1999; Beyer, 1999; Ginat,
1987). Many cultures often have had more formal legal traditions
defending a man’s right to beat or even kill his wife in response to
infidelity (M. Wilson & Daly, 1992).
In this article, we address honor as a cultural syndrome (Trian-
dis, 1994, 1996) and explore how facets of this syndrome can
contribute to male-on-female violence. Three features of this syn-
drome are examined here by comparing honor and nonhonor
cultures using experiments that involve paper-and-pencil vignettes
and live interactions. Specifically, we test the hypotheses that in
honor cultures as compared with nonhonor cultures (a) female
fidelity will cause greater damage to a male’s reputation, (b) this
reputation can be partially restored through the use of violence,
and (c) women are more often expected to remain loyal in the face
of such violence.
Male Honor and Domestic Violence
Cultures around the world vary in the importance attached to the
construct of honor. In one sense, the definition of honor is con-
sistent across cultures. Almost all cultures place value on honor
defined as virtuous behavior, good moral character, integrity, and
altruism, and this ideal holds for males as well as females. In some
cultures, however, honor carries an additional social significance
as a theme around which most interpersonal life is organized.
Scholars such as Pitt-Rivers (1966) have noted two definitions of
Female-on-male violence as well as violence within gay and lesbian
couples occurs. We chose to focus here on male violence against women
because this violence is much more likely to occur than female-on-male
violence and because much of the female-on-male violence is likely to be
a response to male aggression (Daly & Wilson, 1988b). Female hetero-
sexual violence (and gay and lesbian violence) may have different etiolo-
gies than male violence, and thus the framework for the present article may
be quite inappropriate for analyses of these issues.
Joseph A. Vandello, Department of Psychology, University of South
Florida; Dov Cohen, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at
The work was supported in part by a dissertation completion fellowship
from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign Graduate College, by
National Science Foundation Grant 9808164, and by Social Sciences and
Humanities Research Council of Canada Grant 31037.
We thank the following people for their help in the development and
execution of the studies: Carrie Debruler, Rebecca Denosaquo, Renae
Franiuk, Kelly Frankovich, Demetrios Georgacopoulos, Chris Georgaco-
poulos, Anna Lindwedel, Brett McGovern, Tiffany Meier, Beth Oshack,
Sylvia Puente, Jesus Ruiz, Jon Schmidgall, Jeff Stone, and Maria Talarico.
Also, Andrea Aguiar, Adriana Aguiar, Marina Aguiar, Marcos Aguiar,
Nancy Cardia, Betty Siqueira, and Fernanda Siqueira provided invaluable
help with Study 1. Special thanks are also due to the members of Joseph A.
Vandello’s dissertation committee: Dov Cohen, Harry Triandis, Ed Diener,
Fritz Drasgow, and Louise Fitzgerald. Finally, we thank Rick Hoyle for his
helpful comments on an earlier version of the article.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Joseph
A. Vandello, Department of Psychology, PCD 4118G, University of South
Florida, Tampa, Florida 33620-7200. E-mail: vandello@chuma1.cas
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Copyright 2003 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.
2003, Vol. 84, No. 5, 997–1010 0022-3514/03/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.84.5.997
the term. In addition to the widely shared definition of honor as
virtue, a second meaning of honor has to do with honor as status,
precedence, and reputation, and is the focus of the present work. It
is based on a person’s (usually a man’s) strength and power to
enforce his will on others or to command deferential treatment
(Nisbett & Cohen, 1996). In some cultures, such honor codes are
formal and codified; in others (such as the U.S. South), norms of
honor tend to be more informal and implicit.
This second definition of honor is more narrowly emphasized
only in certain cultures. Classic examples of “cultures of honor”
include Mediterranean societies such as Greece, Italy, and Spain
(Campbell, 1965; Gilmore, 1990; Peristiany, 1965), Middle East
and Arab cultures (Abou-Zeid, 1965; Antoun, 1968; Bourdieu,
1965; Gilmore, 1990; Ginat, 1987), Latin and South American
cultures with Iberian roots (Johnson & Lipsett-Rivera, 1998), and
the American South (Nisbett & Cohen, 1996; Wyatt-Brown,
1982). Whereas there is a great concern with generosity, hospital-
ity, and loyalty in these cultures (the first definition of honor),
there is also a great concern for a man’s reputation based on his
toughness and ability to protect his family and possessions (the
second definition of honor).
It is important to note that honor norms in such cultures apply to
females as well as males. Whereas the code dictates precedence
and toughness for males, norms for females stress modesty, shame,
and the avoidance of behaviors that might threaten the good name
of the family (e.g., adultery or sexual immodesty). These gender
roles imply a more active role for men and a passive role for
women, as female honor is centered around the avoidance of
shame; however, females are neither powerless nor passive in
cultures of honor. Indeed, women carry great influence in deter-
mining the reputation of a family. It is often said that in such
cultures, the honor of the family goes through the female. Women
have both negative power (they can “stain” the family honor
through their behaviors) and positive power (for instance, they can
increase the reputation of the family through marrying up in the
social chain; Schneider, 1971). Nevertheless, women’s power in
honor cultures exists within the context of largely patriarchal and
collectivistic social arrangements. As a consequence, female
agency and strength are derived partially from interpersonal inter-
action—the ability to control the emotional tenor of relationships
and to withstand or overcome relationship difficulties (a theme we
return to in our second study).
A good deal of attention has been paid to the heightened
tendencies for male violence against other males in cultures of
honor (see, e.g., Anderson, 1994; Cohen, Nisbett, Bowdle &
Schwarz, 1996; Cohen, Vandello, & Rantilla, 1998; Nisbett &
Cohen, 1996; Vandello & Cohen, in press-b). A cultural emphasis
on male honor may also foster certain traditional gender roles that
encourage and perpetuate male violence against women. Honor
norms require men to be hypersensitive to insults and threats to
their reputation, and a key component of the masculine reputation
is the good name of a man’s female partner. Thus, honor cultures
often establish norms where female chastity, purity, and modesty
are valued, as emphasized in an Arab expression that a man’s
honor “lies between the legs of a woman” (Beyer, 1999). In
contrast, sexual prowess and assertiveness are often central to the
male role in such cultures (Gilmore, 1990). In colonial Brazil, for
example, “the honor system led men to protect the women in their
own family from sexual assault and thereby preserve the family
honor, whereas...mensstatus and reputation within male culture
rose as a function of how many women they were able to conquer”
(Nazzari, 1998, p. 104). These contradictory expectations rein-
forced the belief that women must be protected from rival males to
ensure their honor. Adultery is discouraged and stigmatized in
many cultures around the world, but it carries an additional sig-
nificance in honor cultures. Female adultery, or even suspected
adultery, can be very damaging to a man’s public reputation in
such cultures, where most social and economic interactions may
depend on the good name of the family.
A man who allows his partner to stray may be seen as less of a
man. He may be perceived as weak and vulnerable, someone who
can be taken advantage of in other situations as well (Schneider,
1971). As Pitt-Rivers (1966) has written about infidelity in cultures
of honor, “her adultery represents not only an infringement of his
rights but the demonstration of failure in his duty. He has betrayed
the values of his family, bringing dishonor to all the social groups
who are involved reciprocally in his honor: his family and his
community” (p. 46).
Because male honor often requires female deference and fidel-
ity, relationships between men and women can carry an underlying
tension that can serve as a precursor or catalyst to domestic
violence. Honor may be used as a justification (either implicit or
explicit) for violence; in the most extreme cases, it is used as a
justification for homicides of spouses or family members in honor
cultures (Abou-Zeid, 1965; Baker et al., 1999; Beyer, 1999; Bour-
dieu, 1965; Ginat, 1987; Glazer & Abu Ras, 1994), and formal
customs and legal traditions have often developed that sanction or
excuse such violence (see Vandello & Cohen, 2003; M. Wilson &
Daly, 1992).
Within this cultural framework, male violence against women
may be seen as necessary and proper to preserve the integrity of
the man and the family (Loizos, 1978). In fact, not responding with
violence after perceived female misbehavior (especially if it is
known publicly) may be a source of shame. For females, ideals of
feminine sacrifice and family loyalty should be strongest in cul-
tures of honor. The importance of family cohesion, coupled with
traditional gender roles, should create strong pressures for women
to stay in relationships despite danger or harm. A woman thus
bears the responsibility to sacrifice herself for the good of the
family or relationship regardless of personal cost.
General Hypotheses
There are several implications of this general culture-of-honor
pattern of gender relationships that we test in this article. Specif-
ically, we explored three main hypotheses. First, in cultures of
honor, a female’s infidelity should be especially likely to harm a
man’s reputation. Second, in cultures of honor, men should be
more likely to feel pressure to restore their honor after perceived
infidelity by their partners, and one way this can be done is through
punishment with violence. Third, women in cultures of honor
should be expected to remain loyal in relationships, even when the
relationships become violent. In contrast to more individualistic,
nonhonor cultures, a “good” woman in an honor culture will be
one who remains loyal. Whereas remaining in an abusive relation-
ship is likely to be seen as passive and foolish in a nonhonor
culture, for members of honor cultures, a woman should be seen as
relatively strong, agentic, and “good” for doing the proper thing
and remaining loyal.
Latin American and Southern U.S. Cultures of Honor
We believe that themes emphasizing female purity, inequality,
and loyalty to the family are likely to be associated with high rates
of violence across a number of cultural contexts, and in archival
work we have been exploring these issues (Vandello & Cohen,
2003). However, the present article concentrates on how honor
cultures, in particular, give rise to norms, scripts, and expectations
that can lead to violence against women. The idea that male honor
is so tied up with female purity and that this honor and reputation
for strength and precedence are so prized are two important fea-
tures that set cultures of honor apart. The present article uses the
experimental method to compare the attitudes, communication
patterns, and behaviors of individuals from honor cultures and
nonhonor cultures as they might relate to issues of reputational
threat, fidelity, loyalty, and violence.
We examined two types of honor cultures in the present work:
Latin American and southern U.S. Anglo cultures. Recent work on
Spanish populations has shown a link between the honor syndrome
and violence (Delgado, Prieto, & Bond, 1997; Rodriguez
Mosquera, Manstead, & Fischer, 2000). With roots in Spanish and
Portuguese honor ideologies, Latin American societies are char-
acterized normatively by traditional gender roles, strong familism,
and patriarchy (Delgado et al., 1997; Triandis, Lisansky, Marı´n, &
Betancourt, 1984; Vazquez-Nuttall, Romero-Garcia, & de Leon,
1987; Youssef, 1973). The emphasis on male machismo in Iberian-
influenced Latin American cultures underlies the emphasis on
honor (De La Cancela, 1986; Lara-Cantu´, 1989; Mirande´, 1977;
Pen˜alosa, 1968). Behaviors associated with machismo include
stoicism; attempts to avoid shame and gain respeto [respect] and
dignidad [dignity] for the self and family; emphasis on virility; and
at times, patterns of assertiveness and dominance (De La Cancela,
1986). There is some debate over whether machismo is mostly
negative, harmful, or oppressive, or whether it is primarily a
culturally valued ideal based on positive attributes such as courage
and protection (Andrade, 1982; De La Cancela, 1986; Straus &
Smith, 1990). In any event, this form of honor can have implica-
tions for relationships among men and women and, taken far
enough, can have further implications for violence. As in many
honor cultures, women are seen as vital to preserving the status of
the family in Latin American cultures (Youssef, 1973). As repos-
itories of family honor, women in traditional Latin American
cultures historically “should be virgins until they married, wives
should be faithful, and widows chaste. The system of family honor
thereby sought to prevent and constrain the sexual activity of
single daughters and married women” (Nazzari, 1998, p. 104). In
addition, “Latin American cultural attitudes are permissive with
respect to men’s sexual freedom,” and so men must be vigilant in
protecting their women “against possible overtures of any sexual
aggressiveness towards his womenfolk and ready to defend any
such offense at the risk of his own life, that of the intruder, or even
that of the kinswoman herself” (Youssef, 1973, p. 329).
A recent survey by Grandon and Cohen (2002) comparing over
300 college students in Chile and Canada helps illustrate the points
both about the centrality of female honor to the family name and
about male responsibility for protecting it. In their survey, twice as
many Chileans (72%) as Canadians (36%) agreed that “a woman
must protect the family’s good reputation,” with similar results for
a statement that “a woman’s honor must be defended by the men
in the family” (77% agreement in Chile vs. 32% agreement in
Canada). As a consequence of such concerns about honor and
female sexuality, cultures throughout Central and South America
seem to be plagued by high rates of domestic violence (cf. Ells-
berg, Caldera, Herrera, Winkvist, & Kullgren, 1999; Heise et al.,
1994; McWhirter, 1999; Vandello & Cohen, 2003).
In our first study, we compared Brazilian and U.S. samples. The
roots of honor run deep in Brazilian culture, tracing back to its
Iberian heritage (Johnson, 1998; Nazzari, 1998). Historically in
Brazil, allegations of female promiscuity or infidelity “were
viewed as a direct assault on the status and reputation of the male
household head” and “had the potential to ignite verbal or physical
assaults” against wives (Johnson, 1998, p. 145). In extreme situ-
ations, domestic violence has been used to cleanse a stained family
honor. A Brazilian expression, Lavar a honra com sangue,”
translates “wash the honor with the blood,” and such violence
(including sometimes murder) has been given legitimacy by the
Brazilian court system until very recently (Hatfield & Rapson,
1996; Johnson, 1998; Page, 1995).
In our second study, we examined two subcultures within the
United States that have culture of honor traditions: Hispanics
southern Anglo populations. Latin American subcultures within
the United States have rates of husband-on-wife assault more than
twice that of Anglo Americans (Straus & Smith, 1990). Hispanic
cultures are also characterized by strong, close-knit families and
collectivism (Becerra, 1988; Triandis, 1983), which could serve as
a buffer against violence, but could also create strong pressures to
stay in relationships that may become unhealthy or dangerous.
This interpretation is consistent with the finding that Hispanic
American women tend to stay in abusive relationships longer than
Anglo American women before seeking assistance, and they tend
to return to their partners more often after abuse (Torres, 1987)—
though there are probably both economic and cultural factors at
work here.
Similarly, a good deal of evidence suggests that the U.S. South
is home to a culture of honor, particularly among southern Anglos
(Cohen et al., 1998; Nisbett & Cohen, 1996). Within this culture,
violence is more likely to be seen as a legitimate response to insult
or cuckoldry. And, as in Brazil, the legal tradition of the United
States (particularly the South and Southwest) has sometimes le-
gitimated and excused violence arising from adultery (see Reed,
1981; Vandello & Cohen, 2003). Economic considerations prob-
ably play a role in affecting violence rates in various subcultures as
well as people’s response to them. But, as the experiments below
As of this writing, the terms Hispanic and Latino seem to be used with
similar frequency (though this seems to vary by region, and neither have
proved entirely satisfactory; del Olmo, 2001; Granados, 2000). We use
Hispanic throughout most of Study 2 because we think the honor syndrome
here is ultimately derived from the honor culture of the Iberian peninsula,
though circumstances in the Americas may have reinforced it. We use the
term Anglo in this article as a shorthand way of saying non-Hispanic White.
Great cultural variability exists under all these cultural umbrella labels; and
as we note in the General Discussion section, future research should
explore the large variability that exists under these labels (Vandello &
Cohen, 1999).
seem to indicate, cultural scripts and rules can also implicitly
perpetuate male-on-female aggression through expectations about
proper male and female behavior.
Overview of Studies
In Study 1 we focused on the question of how a woman’s
infidelity reflects upon her male partner. Will a man lose honor if
his wife is unfaithful? How would a violent response to her
infidelity be perceived? To answer these questions, we compared
judgments of college students from the United States and Brazil to
several hypothetical scenarios in a questionnaire.
In Study 2 we turned to a focus on perceptions of the woman.
What should a “good” woman do in response to violence from her
partner? We predicted that the answer to this question depends in
part on the cultural emphasis on honor and family loyalty. In honor
cultures where loyalty is valued (compared with the autonomy and
individuality stressed among nonhonor cultures; see Rodriguez
Mosquera et al., 2000), women who remain in relationships despite
violence might be seen in a relatively positive light. We explored
possible ways in which cultural norms about the appropriateness of
violence may get communicated (perhaps unwittingly) during in-
terpersonal interactions. In a laboratory experiment comparing
Hispanics and southern Anglo Americans to northern Anglos, we
examined the private attitudes and public communications of third
parties who witnessed an episode of “live” violence.
A final note on our classification of participants into honor and
nonhonor cultures: For ease of presentation, and following cross-
cultural convention, we describe honor and nonhonor cultures in a
dichotomous fashion, implying absolute differences between these
groups. However, the differences in social values and norms
between honor cultures and cultures where honor is less of a theme
are more accurately defined as relative (see Gilmore, 1987). The
difference between honor and nonhonor cultures lies largely in the
salience and centrality of such themes in everyday social interac-
tions. In other work (Vandello & Cohen, 2003), we emphasized the
relative nature of honor by treating honor-related themes on a
continuum. Effect sizes are given throughout. Like many cross-
cultural studies, effects tend to be smaller when paper-and-pencil
measures are used and larger when high-impact variables are used.
In all cases in this article, however, there is a good deal of overlap
between the two samples, reflecting a good deal of overlap in the
wider population as well.
Study 1: Perceptions of the “Honorable” Man in Two
Short questionnaires describing married couples were distrib-
uted on campuses in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Illinois, United States.
The questionnaire provided very brief descriptions in which a
partner was faithful or unfaithful and asked people to give their
impressions of each partner on a number of traits.
We hypothesized that a woman’s infidelity would reflect neg-
atively on the male partner in terms of people seeing him as less
manly and trustworthy (key components of male honor and repu-
tation). Of importance, we predicted that this would be more the
case for the Brazilian sample, a culture where honor is a strong and
salient theme. In addition, we predicted that a man’s violence in
response to a wife’s infidelity would be more excused in a culture
of honor, where it might be seen as at least somewhat justified in
order to restore public honor.
Participants and Procedure
A total of 623 university students from two cultures participated volun-
tarily. Of these students, 273 were from Brazil and 350 were from the
United States.
Approximately 58% of each group were females, distrib-
uted roughly equally across conditions. For the Brazilian sample, question-
naires were distributed to student volunteers in psychology, business,
dentistry, and law undergraduate programs. For the U.S. sample, experi-
menters approached students around various campus locations and asked
for their voluntary participation in filling out a brief questionnaire. The
questionnaire took approximately 5 min to complete.
At the end of the questionnaire, participants filled out a number of
demographic items. The Brazilian and U.S. sample did not differ with
respect to number of children, own marital status, or parents’ marital status
(all Fs 2.70, all ps .10). The Brazilian sample was slightly older (mean
age for Brazil 20.6 years, mean age for U.S. 19.6 years), F(1,
608) 13.56, p .001, and had completed more years of college (mean
years for Brazil 2.2, mean years for U.S. 1.5), F(1, 599) 22.49, p
.001. The U.S. sample tended to attend religious services more frequently,
F(1, 606) 6.68 p .05. All analyses were rerun controlling for these
three variables, and all significant results remained significant.
Questionnaire Content
Each questionnaire contained brief scenarios about married couples. The
first scenario described a couple in which the wife was either faithful or
was having an affair that the neighbors knew about (a between-subjects
manipulation). The second scenario described a couple in which the wife
was having an affair, and the husband responded by (a) yelling at her; (b)
yelling at her, hitting her across the face, and shaking her; (c) not doing
anything; or (d) telling her he wanted a divorce (between-subjects manip-
ulation). Participants were randomly assigned to receive one of the various
combinations of the scenarios.
After each scenario, participants were asked to rate the husband on 15
personality characteristics on 5-point bipolar scales. These traits were
aggregated into two dimensions reflecting honor: trustworthiness or good
character (trustworthy/untrustworthy, reliable/unreliable, selfish/unselfish,
Regarding effect sizes, when we compare two means, we give the
effect size d. When we examine more than two means, we use the effect
size measure f (Rosenthal & Rosnow, 1991). By convention, ds of 0.2, 0.5,
and 0.8 and fs of 0.1, 0.25, and 0.4 are considered small, medium, and
large, respectively. All simple effects that are presented use the pooled
error term from the overall analysis of variance (ANOVA), though results
are almost identical if the error terms for the specific contrasts are used.
Following Rosenthal and Rosnow (1985), effect sizes are computed using
the degrees of freedom from the specific contrast.
The U.S. sample included 40 southern Anglo Americans and 15
Hispanics. Because these groups can be considered subcultures of honor in
the United States (see Study 2), we reran all analyses excluding these
individuals from the U.S. sample. Generally, scores for the southern
Anglos and Hispanics were somewhere between those of the Brazilians and
those from the rest of the American sample. Thus, even after excluding
these cases, all significant differences between the U.S. and Brazilian
samples in Study 1 remained significant.
reasonable/unreasonable, good person/bad person, smart/dumb) and
strength or manliness (masculine/feminine, strong/weak, cowardly/coura-
geous, manly/not manly, timid/self-confident, macho/not macho, tough/
wimpy, competent/incompetent, submissive/not submissive). Participants
also rated the wife on the same personality dimensions for the first
scenario. For ratings of the wife, macho and masculine were dropped from
the second factor because they lowered the reliability of the scale. The
reliabilities for the trustworthiness scale were
.74 (.63 for Brazil, .80
for U.S.) for the husband and
.87 (.82 for Brazil, .91 for U.S.) for the
wife. The reliabilities for the strength scale were
.82 (.77 for Brazil,
.83 for U.S) for the husband and
.71 (.67 for Brazil, .74 for U.S.) for
the wife.
The questionnaire was first written in English. It was then translated into
Portuguese by a bilingual translator and backtranslated into English by a
second bilingual translator. A researcher then met with the two translators
to reconcile any differences. Finally, a third bilingual translator inspected
the two final versions of the questionnaire.
There were no gender interactions or main effects, so the results
were collapsed across participants’ gender for ease of presentation.
Scenario 1: The Unfaithful Woman
The first scenario described a couple in which the wife was
either faithful to her husband (Andre) or in which “some of the
neighbors know that she has been having an affair, and the neigh-
bors mentioned this to Andre several months ago.” We predicted
that the woman’s infidelity would reflect negatively on people’s
impressions of the husband, but more so for the Brazilian sample.
Perceptions of the husband. Table 1 shows the mean ratings of
the husband by Brazilian and U.S. respondents on the trustworthi-
ness/good character dimension. Consistent with predictions, re-
spondents rated the man as having less trustworthiness or good
character if his wife was unfaithful (M 3.69) than if she was
faithful (M 3.80)—main effect for affair/no affair: F(1,
614) 4.54, p .05, d 0.17. As can be seen from Table 1, this
effect was driven solely by the Brazilian sample, who rated the
man as less trustworthy if his wife was unfaithful, t(614) 3.14,
p .01, d 0.38, whereas the U.S. respondents did not rate him
as less trustworthy, t(614) 0.07, ns—Culture Affair interac-
tion: F(1, 614) 5.35, p .05, f 0.09.
Table 1 also shows the mean ratings of the husband by Brazil-
ians and U.S. respondents on the masculinity dimension. A similar
pattern emerged. That is, respondents rated the man as less manly
if his wife was unfaithful (M 3.07) than if she was faithful
(M 3.53)—main effect for affair/no affair: F(1, 615) 103.79,
p .001, d 0.83. As can be seen in Table 1, this difference in
ratings of the man between the faithful and unfaithful wife condi-
tions was twice as great for the Brazilian sample as for the U.S.
sample—Culture Affair interaction: F(1, 615) 11.00, p .01,
f 0.13.
Perceptions of the wife. Not surprisingly, the woman was
rated as less trustworthy when she was unfaithful (M 2.20) than
when she was faithful (M 3.63)—main effect for affair/no affair:
F(1, 608) 761.67, p .001, d 2.23. U.S. respondents tended
to see a bigger difference between the faithful and unfaithful
woman than did Brazilians—Culture Affair interaction: F(1,
608) 4.95, p .05, f 0.09. A similar pattern emerged for
ratings of the wife’s strength: She was rated as less strong if she
had an affair (M 3.18) than if she was faithful (M 3.47)—
main effect for affair: F(1, 607) 41.44, p .001, d 0.51—and
U.S. respondents tended to see a bigger difference between the
faithful and unfaithful woman—Culture Affair interaction: F(1,
607) 7.23, p .01, f 0.11. It appears that the woman’s affair
reflects relatively more on the woman to U.S. respondents and,
conversely, more on the man to Brazilian respondents. Indeed,
running a repeated measures ANOVA with ratings of the wife
versus ratings of the husband as the within-subject variable, the
triple interaction of faithful versus unfaithful, culture, and ratings
of the wife versus husband was significant for both the trustwor-
thiness index, F(1, 607) 12.55, p .001, f 0.14, and the
strength index, F(1, 607) 19.79, p .001, f 0.18.
Perceptions of love. Participants were also asked to rate how
much the husband loved the wife and how much the wife loved the
husband. Not surprisingly, the wife was seen as loving the husband
less if she had an affair (M 2.36) than if she was faithful
(M 4.10)—main effect for affair: F(1, 567) 608.25, p .001,
d 2.06. The husband was actually seen as loving the wife
slightly more if she had an affair (M 4.24) than if she was
faithful (M 4.11)—main effect for affair: F(1, 601) 3.46, p
.06, d 0.16. There were no interactions with culture (ps .15).
Scenario 2: Violence in Response to Infidelity
A second scenario described a couple who had been married
for 7 years. When the husband found out that his wife had been
having an affair, he responded by either (a) yelling at her (“You
must stop this affair immediately!”) or (b) using physical violence
(he slaps her hard across the face, grabs her by the arm, shakes her,
and tells her, “You must stop this affair immediately!”). Two other
conditions were also added for exploratory analysis and involved
We also included a third control scenario at the end of the question
naire in which the husband was either faithful or in which he had been
having an affair that the neighbors knew about, thus reversing the gender
roles from the first scenario. Both groups of respondents were condemning
of the man for the affair—main effect for trustworthiness, F(1,
610) 1,082.87, p .001, d 2.66, and manliness, F(1, 610) 74.28,
p .001, d 0.70, comparing the affair versus no affair husband—but
Brazilians were less condemning than the U.S. sample—Culture Affair
interaction for trustworthiness: F(1, 610) 8.66, p .01, f 0.12;
Culture Affair interaction for manliness: F(1, 610) 7.24, p .01,
f 0.11.
Table 1
Mean Ratings (and Standard Deviations) of the Husband in
Scenario 1, Study 1
Dimension rated Wife is faithful Wife is unfaithful
Trustworthiness, good character
Brazil 3.72 (0.61) 3.48 (0.59)
United States 3.86 (0.67) 3.85 (0.66)
Masculinity, strength
Brazil 3.43 (0.44) 2.80 (0.58)
United States 3.61 (0.51) 3.28 (0.66)
Note. All p values refer to interactions between culture and wife’s fidelity.
p .05.
p .01.
extreme responses having nothing to do with violence, in which
the husband responded by either (a) doing nothing or (b) telling his
wife he wanted a divorce. Participants again rated the husband on
the trustworthiness (
.76; .68 for Brazil, .81 for U.S.) and
strength dimensions (
.86; .84 for Brazil, .88 for U.S.) on a
scale ranging from 1 to 5. A 2 4 ANOVA, using an omnibus F
test, revealed significant Culture Husband Response interactions
for both trustworthiness, F(3, 608) 9.32, p .001, f 0.21, and
manliness, F(3, 610) 5.44, p .001, f 0.16. We tested our
specific predictions with focused contrasts. Thus, to isolate the
effect of violence, we compared ratings of the husband who just
yelled with ratings of the one who yelled and used physical
Yell versus yell and hit. As can be seen in Table 2, using
violence had different implications for honor for our U.S. and
Brazilian samples. In terms of trustworthiness ratings, the hus-
band’s violence made him far less trustworthy for our U.S. respon-
dents as compared with our Brazilian respondents—Culture
Violence/Yell interaction: t(608) 5.10, p .001, f 0.30. In
terms of masculinity ratings, violence made ratings go down for
U.S. respondents and up for Brazilian respondents, t(610) 2.28,
p .05, f 0.13. Thus, the violence sent U.S. and Brazilian
judgments about the husband’s manliness in opposite directions.
When asked how much the husband loved the wife, respondents
saw the husband who used violence as loving his wife less
(M 3.42) than the one who yelled (M 3.92)—main effect for
violence versus yelling: t(602) 3.92, p .001, d 0.46. Of
importance, however, this was only the case for the U.S. sample.
That is, U.S. respondents believed that the husband who hit his
wife loved her less—simple main effect: t(602) 4.67, p .001,
d 0.72—but Brazilians did not believe the man who hit loved
his wife significantly less—simple main effect: t(602) 1.40, p
.10; Culture Violence/Yell interaction: t(602) 1.90, p .06,
f 0.11.
Finally, we asked how justified the husband was in his response.
In general, respondents believed that the husband who used vio-
lence was less justified (M 2.24) than when he yelled
(M 3.95)—main effect for violence versus yelling:
t(604) 11.82, p .001, d 1.37. U.S. respondents saw yelling
as more justified than Brazilians did, whereas Brazilians saw
violence as more justified than the U.S. respondents did—
Culture Violence/No Violence interaction: t(604) 6.25, p
.001, f 0.36.
Exploratory analyses. Taking advantage of the significant om-
nibus F test, we also did an orthogonal analysis of the exploratory
conditions where the nonviolent husband did nothing versus de-
manded a divorce. Brazilians and Americans generally did not
differ in their evaluations of these nonviolent responses. There
were no interactions of culture and divorce versus do nothing (all
ps .16), with the exception that U.S. respondents thought that
getting a divorce would be relatively more manly than Brazilians
did—interaction contrast: t(610) 1.93, p .05, f 0.11. There
was thus little in the way of differential ratings by U.S. and
Brazilian participants when extreme responses having nothing to
do with violence were considered.
Results were consistent with a culture-of-honor interpretation. A
man was seen as less honorable (trustworthy, manly) if his wife
had an affair. However, this was particularly the case for the
culture of honor, where the woman’s infidelity seemed to reflect
more negatively upon the man. There were also sharp cultural
differences in views of a man who used violence against his wife
after finding out about her infidelity. Only the U.S. sample rated
him as less trustworthy and manly if the man hit as opposed to just
yelled at his wife. In fact, the Brazilian sample tended to see the
violent man as slightly more manly than the one who merely
yelled, recouping part of his lost honor through the hit. In addition,
only the U.S. sample believed the man who used violence loved
his wife less than the one who yelled, whereas Brazilians did not
show this difference. When asked explicitly how justified the
violence was, neither the Brazilians nor the Americans approved of
the man hitting his wife. However, although the violence may not
have been looked on favorably in response to this explicit item, the
Brazilian sample seemed to be more likely to excuse the husband
or at least stigmatize him less for his violent actions.
The sizes of the effects were not large. (Using conventional
definitions, seven of our interaction effect sizes would be consid-
ered small, two would be considerate moderate, and one would be
Table 2
Mean Ratings (and Standard Deviations) of the Husband in Scenario 2, Study 1
Dimension rated Husband yells at wife Husband hits wife
Trustworthiness, good character
Brazil 2.99 (0.57) 2.81 (0.60)
United States 3.51 (0.61) 2.61 (0.64)
Masculinity, strength
Brazil 3.04 (0.76) 3.22 (0.76)
United States 3.59 (0.63) 3.41 (0.60)
How much does the husband love his wife?
Brazil 3.67 (0.99) 3.42 (1.06)
United States 4.16 (0.98) 3.43 (1.03)
How justified was the husband in his response?
Brazil 3.13 (1.33) 2.40 (1.37)
United States 4.55 (1.37) 2.14 (1.12)
Note. All p values refer to interactions between culture and husband’s response (yell vs. hit).
p .001.
p .05.
p .06.
considered large.) This reflects real within-culture variability, but
it also may partially reflect the ambivalence people (at least in our
samples) felt about condoning any type of male violence against
women, and it may partially reflect the limitations of relatively
uninvolving paper-and-pencil measures. Despite these constraints,
consistent cultural differences did emerge on these rather simple
hypothetical scenarios. In the second study, we attempted to create
more engaging and realistic scenarios.
Study 2: Perceptions and Norm Transmission in
Interpersonal Interactions
Having noted cultural differences in perceptions of cuckolded
men as well as differences in perceptions of male violence in
response to infidelity, we turned to an examination of cultural
views on the proper female response to such violence. A goal of
the second study was to explore evaluations of women in violent
relationships. Female loyalty and sacrifice are strongly valued in
cultures where male honor is a major organizing theme (Loizos,
1978; Schneider, 1971). This might carry over to a belief in
relational altruism for the female, even at the expense of personal
safety. In addition, honor norms may serve to diminish or excuse
a certain degree of male aggression, particularly if it results from
perceived threats of infidelity.
A second goal of Study 2 was to go beyond hypothetical
questionnaire measures to consider how people react to more
realistic encounters with domestic violence. Verbal survey re-
sponses may mute real differences for at least two reasons. First,
there are social desirability effects that can sometimes mute dif-
ferences. Second, survey questions may be particularly likely to
obscure differences when the outcome of interest is driven by
automatically activated cultural scripts and implicit cultural norms
(Cohen, 1997; Kitayama, 2002; Heine, Lehman, Peng, & Green-
holtz, 2002; Wagar & Cohen, in press). Puente and Cohen (in
press) have argued that there is likely to be an important disjunc-
tion between consciously articulated, explicit condemnation of
domestic violence and a more implicit approval of the scripts,
norms, and roles that lead to such violence. Through the “live”
experimental situation of Study 2, we were hoping to overcome
some of the social desirability effects and tap into these more
implicit norms that might emerge in a “real” situation.
Finally, we were interested in examining how cultural beliefs
and norms about “proper” behavior might get transmitted and
reinforced in interpersonal interactions. Women who are in violent
relationships often turn to friends or family for advice. This type of
informal interpersonal counseling might serve as an important
means of perpetuating and enforcing cultural norms about what is
acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
In Study 2, college students at the University of Illinois at
Urbana–Champaign from three subcultures were selected: Hispan-
ics, southern Anglos, and northern Anglos. To create a real,
immediate, and impactful situation, participants in this study ac-
tually witnessed a couple get into a physical confrontation, and
they later interacted with the woman. In addition to measuring
individuals’ private attitudes and impressions of a woman in an
abusive relationship, the study was set up such that individuals
were asked to give advice to the woman. The hypothesis was that
Hispanics and southern Anglos (relative to northern Anglos)
would be more favorable to the woman who was loyal and chose
to persevere in the relationship, whereas northern Anglos would be
more favorable to the woman who intended to leave the relation-
ship, seeing her as strong and assertive. We predicted that these
differences would show up both in the private evaluations of the
woman and in participants’ direct communication with her.
Participants were 112 students from the University of Illinois at Urbana–
Champaign. Thirty-three participants were Hispanics (16 males, 17 fe-
males), 41 were northern U.S. Anglos (22 males, 19 females), and 38 were
southern U.S. Anglos (17 males, 21 females). Selection of southern and
northern participants was based on permanent residence.
All participants
were drawn from the introductory psychology participant pool and were
prescreened on ethnicity and where they had grown up with data from
university records.
Participants filled out an extensive demographics questionnaire (e.g.,
rural vs. urban background, parents’ income) Although there were a few
scattered differences between the groups, none of the differences correlated
with any dependent variables of interest (all ps .10), and all significant
results remained significant or marginally significant when controlling for
each of these variables.
When participants arrived individually, there was a sign on the labora-
tory door saying that the experimenter would be a few minutes late and
asking participants to fill out a consent form and a questionnaire that were
both in envelopes on the door as well. There were two chairs in the hallway
next to the door where the participants sat while waiting. The consent form
explained that the experiment involved the acquaintance process and the
accuracy of people’s impressions of others. Participants were told that they
would be interacting with a partner and then answering some question-
naires about their impression of that person.
A short while after the participant arrived, a female and male (both
confederates and both blind to the specific hypotheses of the study)
Respondents were classified as “southern” if they had spent at least a
third of their lives in the South. Consistent with previous research (Cohen
et al., 1996; Cohen, Vandello, Puente, & Rantilla, 1999; Vandello &
Cohen, in press-b), the South included Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware,
Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri,
North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia,
and West Virginia. Southern culture, of course, does not necessarily follow
political state boundaries. Indeed, as C. R. Wilson and Ferris (1989) have
noted, “‘The South’ is found wherever southern culture is found, and that
culture is located not only in the Deep South, the Upper South, and border
cities, but also in ‘Little Dixies’ (the southern parts of Ohio, Indiana,
Illinois, and parts of Missouri and Oklahoma)...”(p.xv). Of our Illinois
participants, respondents from Springfield and below were considered
southern, because this region’s predominant cultural influence at the time
of settlement was the South. Of the approximately 50 counties below
Springfield, there are in fact only 2 counties that were not settled primarily
by people from Tennessee, Kentucky, or the Carolinas (Atack, 1989, p.
72). Culturally, southern Illinois is considered by many historians, anthro-
pologists, political scientists, and sociologists to be part of the South (see
extended discussion in Cohen et al., 1999, and experimental support from
lab experiments in Cohen et al., 1999, Vandello & Cohen, in press-b).
approached the lab.
The female (who played the role of the second
participant in the study) set her bookbag down next to the participant after
reading the sign on the door. The male (pretending to be her boyfriend)
asked how long her experiment would take. She mentioned that it would
take “about an hour” but that she needed to “go over to John’s after this for
a little bit to pick up a few things.” The boyfriend, obviously upset by this,
grabbed the female by the arm and walked her down the hallway until they
were approximately 15 feet from where the participant sat. At this point,
the couple began arguing, loudly enough that the participant could overhear
what was going on, but at the same time attempting to be discreet.
The argument involved the female wanting to go over to a former
boyfriend’s house after the experiment. The male asserted that he did not
want her to do this and that they had discussed this before. As the argument
progressed, things became more heated and voices raised. Finally, the male
demanded that the female hand him her car keys. When she refused, he
grabbed her by the wrist and ripped them from her hand. She immediately
attempted to take them back, but the male shoved her very forcefully
against the wall by her shoulders, making a loud crashing noise. As he
pinned her against the wall, he said in an intimidating voice, “I’ll see you
at home,” and then he left down the hallway. The female, obviously shaken
up, turned toward the male and stood for a few moments as he walked
away. Then, after trying to compose herself, she walked over to where the
participant sat, read the sign on the door, and took the consent form and
questionnaire to fill out.
At this point, the question of interest was what types of signals or
messages the participants would send to the victim regarding the conflict
they just witnessed. To encourage a response, the confederate probed the
participant with scripted dialogue. The persona of the victim was manip-
ulated such that in half the cases she took on a “contrite” role and in half
the cases she took on an opposite “no-tolerance” role.
In the contrite condition, the confederate used the following two probes:
Probe 1: “That was my fiance´. He gets so jealous sometimes...I
guess it was kind of my fault, huh?”
Probe 2: “He really cares about me. I guess that’s just how he shows
it, you know?”
In the no-tolerance condition, the confederate reacted by suggesting that
she should not put up with the abuse from the male and that she should
leave him:
Probe 1: “That was my fiance´. He gets so jealous sometimes...Im
getting so damn tired of this, you know? He really makes me mad
when he’s like that.”
Probe 2: “I should just give him his keys and his ring back.”
The confederate was instructed to note any responses and covertly write
them down verbatim later in the study.
Shortly after, the experimenter arrived, apologized for being late, and
invited the participants into the lab. After briefly describing the experiment
as an impression-formation study, the experimenter explained that he
wanted to get participants’ first impressions of each other before they had
any conversations (apparently oblivious to any interaction in the hall). He
told the participants that they would soon have a brief get-acquainted
session with each other, but first he had each of the participants separately
fill out a questionnaire in which they rated the others’ personality on a
number of dimensions and also rated their overall impression of the other
person. During this time, the confederate covertly wrote down the partic-
ipant’s responses to her probes in the hallway, also noting any body
language or physical actions. In addition, she rated the participant’s re-
sponses on a number of dimensions indicating tolerance or intolerance for
the abuse.
Then, the 2 participants were told that they would spend a few minutes
“getting acquainted.” They were given a list of five topics to discuss. They
were told the purpose was to get to know the other person better, so that
they could again fill out the same questionnaire rating the other person’s
personality to see if their initial impressions changed at all.
During the get-acquainted session, the experimenter left the room so that
the participants could freely chat. One of the discussion topics asked the
participants to recall how they spent their summer. At this point, the female
confederate recounted her recent engagement. A second conversation topic
asked the participants to describe an event that made them sad. The female
confederate again recalled the physical conflict in the hallway. Then, she
probed the participant a second time for a response. This time, she took on
the opposite persona she portrayed in the hallway (self-blaming or asser-
tive), thus creating a within-subject manipulation. Rather than seeming
strange, such a reaction was intended to seem like the natural vacillation of
someone who had very conflicting emotions about her fiance´. Again, the
confederate noted the participant’s responses for later recording. (While the
participant filled out the questionnaire after the get-acquainted session, the
confederate again transcribed the participant’s responses to the probes and
rated the responses on a number of dimensions indicating tolerance or
intolerance for the abuse.)
In summary, there were several opportunities to record the participants’
reactions to a woman involved in a situation of intimate violence. Confed-
erates recorded the participants’ direct responses to scripted probes; and
privately, the participants themselves rated the contrite or assertive con-
federate on a number of personality dimensions under the guise of an
impression-formation task.
After the experiment, but before being fully debriefed, participants filled
out a questionnaire on the justifiableness of various conflict situations and
a demographics questionnaire.
Participants were then fully debriefed.
Debriefings were thorough and done in an unstructured interview format.
The experimenter asked the participants about their suspicions regarding
the accomplices and the true nature of the study, and made a coding for
whether they expressed suspicion. Overall, participants found the study
very believable and engaging. Ten of the 112 participants expressed some
suspicion. When results were reanalyzed, omitting data from these 10
participants, all conclusions remained unchanged. The experimenter dis-
cussed with participants the problem of domestic abuse and gave them
information about local domestic violence resources. Participants were also
told about the nature of the deception and our reasons for doing so,
emphasizing the need for honest and spontaneous participant reactions.
Participants were reintroduced to the confederate couple, and every effort
was made to ensure that participants were comfortable with the experiment,
not upset or angered, and that they understood the reasons for the proce-
dures. Finally, all participants filled out a short questionnaire assessing
their reactions to the experiment (how interesting it was, how worthwhile
it was, how happy they were to have participated, and how angry they were
to have participated), were thanked, and dismissed. From both informal
It is possible that participants would be more comfortable interacting
with and giving advice to members of their own ingroups as opposed to
out-group members. Because of this, we attempted to equate the cultural
group of the participants with that of the confederates. One of our male
confederates was Hispanic (“Jesus”). None of our female confederates
were; however, we did have a female confederate who was passable as a
Hispanic (dark hair and skin), and in cases in which she was paired with a
Hispanic participant, she used the name “Anna Gomez.” In cases in which
she was paired with a non-Hispanic White participant, she used the name
“Beth Schmidt.”
Participants in Study 2 were also given two questionnaires to measure
individual-difference variables that we predicted might be associated with
attitudes and beliefs about domestic violence: a measure of traditionality of
gender roles (the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory; Glick & Fiske, 1996) and
a measure of individualism and collectivism (the INDCOL; Hui, 1988).
However, neither of these measures predicted any of the dependent vari-
ables of interest.
conversations and postexperimental ratings, it was clear that participants
found the study to be interesting and valuable. No participant appeared
unhappy or upset at the completion of the study. The experiment was given
very high ratings. In general, participants found the study quite interesting
(mean rating of 4.81 out of 5.00) and worthwhile (mean rating of 4.76 out
of 5.00). They appeared to be happy to have participated (mean rating
of 4.64 of 5.00) and not at all angry (mean rating of 1.05 out of 5.00).
Postexperiment coding. After the experimental sessions, two people
independently coded the confederate-recorded transcripts for objective
content. The coders (blind to hypotheses and experimental conditions)
recorded the presence or absence of verbal and behavioral cues of two
types: (a) statements suggesting tolerance for abuse (e.g., “he’s just con-
cerned about you”) and (b) statements or behaviors suggesting intolerance
for the abuse (e.g., “it’s not your fault”). These codings allowed a more
descriptive and more objective evaluation of participants’ responses than
the somewhat brief and covert subjective ratings made by the confederates
themselves. Because this coding was meant to be objective, there were very
few disagreements between the two coders. For the few instances in which
the two coders disagreed, a third independent coder was asked to make a
final judgment to resolve the difference.
Our main comparison of interest was between the honor groups
and the nonhonor group. For the following analyses, we used
focused contrasts comparing southern Anglos and Hispanics with
northern Anglos. As expected, southern Anglos and Latinos re-
sponded similarly across dependent measures (ps .30 for all
major dependent variables). As in Study 1, there were no gender
main effects or Gender Culture interactions for any of the
dependent measures (all ps .10). For the following results, the
data were collapsed across gender.
Public Communication by Participants
Participants gave a wide variety of reactions to the witnessed
conflict ranging from messages that conveyed disapproval of the
violence (“He shouldn’t push you like that! That really upsets me”;
“You shouldn’t let him treat you like that”; “If he wasn’t so much
bigger than me, I would have done something”; “That’s not the
right way to show love. You should tell him you’re a human being
and shouldn’t be pushed”) to messages that conveyed more accep-
tance of the violence or encouraged her to remain in the relation-
ship (“Yeah, it’s probably for your own good”; “He’s just con-
cerned about you”; “I honestly don’t know what to say, because I
would have done the same thing (if I were him)”; or, after the
woman says she should leave him, “You shouldn’t make decisions
like that in haste. I know my husband would be furious if I went
to another man’s house”). Again, participants’ communication to
the confederate was measured in two ways: (a) The confederate
herself made a few immediate, subjective ratings of the interac-
tions, and (b) more extensive, objective codings of the confeder-
ates’ transcripts of the interaction were made later.
Confederate ratings of participant communication. The fe-
male confederate made seven ratings of the interaction with the
participant after each of the two interactions (“How accepting was
the person of the violence?”; “The person’s reactions would tell
me I should leave/stay”; “The person seemed to think blame for
the incident rested with me/with the boyfriend”; “How understand-
able was my boyfriend’s actions?”; “This person’s reactions would
tell me my relationship is probably okay/is not repairable”; “How
encouraging was the person in your self-blame?”; “How encour-
aging was the person in you leaving your boyfriend?”). These
ratings were aggregated to form a scale measuring how much the
participant communicated tolerance or acceptance of the violence
versus intolerance (
.97; .97 for Hispanics/southerners, .97 for
northerners). The three groups did not differ in their communica-
tion as rated by the confederate—contrast comparing southerners
and Hispanics with northerners: t(108) 0.71, p .48.
However, it was clear from discussions with the female confed-
erates that the subjective ratings they were given were not partic-
ularly specific or relevant enough to capture the richness of the
communication by the participants. We believe this was due in part
to the fact that it was difficult to anticipate the specific types of
participant reactions prior to the experiment. In addition, ratings
made by the female confederate were all made on bipolar rating
scales; thus, it was impossible to disentangle communication sug-
gesting tolerance from communication suggesting intolerance (i.e.,
a high rating could indicate a participant who communicated
tolerance for the violence, or one who did not communicate
intolerance). Later codings of transcripts made by two blind raters
attempted to correct for these shortcomings by coding for more
specific, objective verbal or behavioral content, and by indepen-
dently coding for communication suggesting tolerance and
Tolerance for the violence. Raters coded for the presence of
statements indicating tolerance for the witnessed violence. These
statements included (a) showing support for the participant blam-
ing herself, (b) suggesting that the female should not leave the
relationship, (c) suggesting her fiance´ was just concerned about
her, (d) suggesting that the couple should just try to work out their
problems (as opposed to ending the relationship), or (e) suggesting
jealousy is a good thing. We recorded whether a participant men-
tioned any of the above types of statements, and we also created a
tolerance scale by summing the number of times a participant
mentioned each of the five statements across the two interactions.
(Participants were given a 1 if the statement was mentioned and a 0
if the statement was not mentioned).
As predicted, southerners and Hispanics were more likely to
voice tolerance for the abuse than were northerners. Twenty-nine
percent of the southern participants and 24% of Hispanic partici-
pants communicated at least one statement of tolerance for the
violence, whereas only 10% of the northern participants did so,
(1, N 110) 4.61, p .05. Southerners and Hispanics also
voiced more tolerance overall, as indicated by our aggregate tol-
erance scale—1 1 2 contrast of southern Anglos and Hispanics
versus northern Anglos: t(109) 2.28, p .05, d 0.45 (south-
ern mean .17, Hispanic mean .17, northern mean .05).
Intolerance for the violence. Raters coded for the presence of
statements indicating intolerance for the witnessed violence. These
statements included (a) saying that the violence was not her fault,
(b) saying that the fiance´ should not hit her, (c) showing support
for her leaving the man, (d) suggesting that jealousy is a bad thing,
(d) attempting some type of physical intervention during the fight,
or (e) saying that they should or would have intervened during the
fight. As with the tolerance ratings, we recorded whether a partic-
ipant mentioned any statements of intolerance, and we also created
an intolerance scale by summing the frequency with which a
participant communicated each of the six statements or behaviors.
Southerners and Hispanics and northerners did not differ in the
likelihood of communicating intolerance for the violence. Fifty
percent of the southern participants, 55% of the Hispanic partici-
pants, and 46% of the northern participants communicated at least
one type of intolerance,
(1, N 110) 0.35, p .55; the
groups did not differ in the frequency of communicating state-
ments of intolerance for the interaction—contrast: t(109) 1.25,
p .20.
Private Ratings of Attitude Toward Confederate
Overall global reaction to the confederate. Participants were
asked to rate their overall global impression of their interaction
partner on five items (1 to 5 scales). These items asked (a) how
similar the participant felt to the woman, (b) how likely it was that
they would be friends, (c) how much they shared the same values,
(d) how easily they could relate to the woman, and (e) how much
they would enjoy interacting with the woman. The five items were
aggregated to form an overall personal reaction scale (
.76; .75
for Hispanics/southerners, .70 for northerners). Participants made
these ratings twice, thus giving them a chance to rate both the
contrite and no-tolerance confederate. As may be seen in Table 3,
Hispanics and southerners had a more positive reaction to the
contrite, self-blaming confederate, whereas northerners had a more
positive reaction to the assertive “intolerant” confederate—con-
trast testing the Culture Confederate Persona interaction:
t(106) 3.28, p .001, f 0.32; simple effect for combined
southerners and Latinos: t(106) 2.96, p .01, d 0.72; simple
effect for northern Anglos: t(106) 1.99, p .05, d 0.65.
Personality ratings of the confederate. Participants were given
a list of 55 bipolar personality dimensions on which to rate the
female confederate (1 to 5 scales). Of particular interest, several
traits having to do with (a) strength or agency, (b) warmth, and (c)
wisdom were included among a number of filler items (e.g.,
stylish/not stylish).
Strength, “agency.” A dimension of strength or agency versus
weakness or passivity was created based on an aggregate of 10
traits: secure, strong, courageous, active, competent, stable, asser-
tive, talkative, energetic, and lively (
.84; .80 for Hispanics/
southerners, .87 for northerners). The prediction was that northern
Anglos would view the contrite woman as weak and passive and
unwilling or unable to control her fate. In contrast, southern
Anglos and Hispanics should see the woman who was contrite as
loyal and strong. She was strong enough to do her duty and was
actively trying to control her fate and make the relationship work,
instead of abandoning the relationship at the first signs of conflict.
As may be seen in Table 3, northern Anglos rated the no-tolerance
confederate as more agentic than the contrite female, whereas
southern Anglos and Hispanics rated the loyal, contrite woman as
just as strong as the no-tolerance confederate—contrast testing a
Culture Confederate Persona interaction: t(109) 2.13, p
.05, f 0.21; simple effect for northern Anglos: t(110) 2.41,
p .05, d 0.77; simple effect for combined southern Anglos and
Latinos: t(110) 0.25, ns. Southern Anglos and Hispanics rated
the woman who stayed and the woman who planned to leave as
equivalent, suggesting there may be more than one way to be
strong in this situation.
Warmth, goodness. A warmth dimension was created on the
basis of an aggregate of five traits: kind, good person, good friend,
caring, and warm (
.62; .60 for Hispanics/southerners, .62 for
northerners). There was a marginally significant Culture Con-
federate Persona interaction, such that southerners and Hispanics
rated the confederate who expressed a more assertive reaction to
her partner as having less warmth or goodness than the self-
blaming one, whereas northerners rated the two reactions of the
Table 3
Participants’ Private Mean Ratings (and Standard Deviations) of the Female Confederate in
Study 2
Dimension rated
Confederate persona
Assertive, leaving Self-blaming, loyal
Overall impression of the woman
Hispanics 3.34 (0.61) 3.49 (0.63)
Southern Anglos 3.06 (0.52) 3.29 (0.51)
Northern Anglos 3.32 (0.61) 3.14 (0.46)
Ratings of the woman’s strength or “agency”
Hispanics 3.23 (0.53) 3.33 (0.57)
Southern Anglos 3.24 (0.65) 3.23 (0.72)
Northern Anglos 3.43 (0.51) 3.18 (0.76)
Ratings of the woman’s warmth, goodness
Hispanics 4.15 (0.54) 4.30 (0.49)
Southern Anglos 4.09 (0.52) 4.27 (0.45)
Northern Anglos 4.23 (0.48) 4.23 (0.45)
Ratings of the woman’s wisdom
Hispanics 3.43 (0.59) 3.55 (0.65)
Southern Anglos 3.33 (0.60) 3.30 (0.54)
Northern Anglos 3.44 (0.48) 3.36 (0.62)
Note. Interaction terms are based on contrasts testing Hispanics and southern Anglos versus northern Anglos
on ratings of the assertive, leaving female persona versus the self-blaming, loyal persona.
p .001.
p .05.
p .08.
p .35.
confederate equivalently—contrast testing the Culture Confed-
erate Persona interaction: t(109) 1.76, p .08, f 0.17; simple
effect for combined southerners and Hispanics: t(109) 3.11, p
.01, d 0.75; simple effect for northern Anglos: t(109) 0.00, ns
(see Table 3).
Wisdom. An aggregate of six variables (intelligent, inquisitive,
wise, practical, naive, foolish) made up a wisdom dimension (
.65; .61 for Hispanics/southerners, .68 for northerners). There were
no significant interactions with culture with respect to this dimen-
sion—contrast: t(109) 0.87, p .35.
Postinteraction Questionnaire
After interacting with the female confederate, the participants
filled out a 33-item questionnaire measuring their explicit beliefs
about the justifiableness of a husband hitting his wife under
various circumstances. Because of a probable floor effect, there
was little group variation in responses, with participants answer-
ing1(not at all understandable) for most items (mean scale
scores: Hispanics 1.45, southern Anglos 1.52, northern An-
glos 1.55; p .45). There was a significant gender main effect,
with males scoring higher on the scale, F(1, 107) 4.64, p .05,
f 0.22. Also, the justifiableness of conflict scale was uncorre-
lated with the dependent variables of interest. The only notable
effect that emerged was a significant negative correlation between
Justifiableness of Conflict scores and communication of intoler-
ance for the conflict to the confederate (r ⫽⫺.24, p .05).
There was converging evidence for a cultural difference in
reactions to a woman who had been in an abusive encounter.
Participants from cultures of honor (southern Anglos and Hispan-
ics) who witnessed the physical conflict had a more favorable
impression of the woman if she expressed contrition and loyalty as
opposed to intolerance and independence; northern participants
showed the opposite pattern, favoring the woman who suggested
she would leave the aggressive fiance´. In addition, whereas north-
erners viewed the woman who stayed as weak, southerners and
Hispanics viewed the woman who stayed as equally strong (and as
showing more warmth and goodness) than the one who said she
would leave.
There was also some evidence that these differences in private
evaluations influenced individuals’ interactions with and explicit
advice to the woman. Although the honor and nonhonor groups did
not differ in their communication of intolerance of the witnessed
aggression, southerners and Hispanics, compared with northern
Anglos, communicated more messages of tolerance for the aggres-
sion or messages suggesting that the woman stay in the relation-
ship, when transcripts of the communication between the partici-
pants and the female confederate were analyzed.
It is notable that the experimental method used was able to pick
up cultural differences that explicit attitude items did not. It is
likely that social desirability concerns and explicit negativity to-
ward violence led to most all participants condemning violence on
our justifiability of conflict measure, thus muting possible differ-
ences. However, when we measured actual behaviors and feelings
toward contrite and intolerant confederates, we were able to bring
differences potentially arising from more implicit norms and
scripts into sharper relief.
General Discussion
Two experiments examined differences in the way honor and
nonhonor cultures perceived male-on-female aggression by ex-
ploring norms about fidelity, reputation, loyalty, and violence. The
proximal way that honor concerns influence perceptions and be-
haviors related to such aggression was illustrated in a question-
naire study comparing Brazilian and North American samples and
a high-impact experimental study comparing southern Anglos,
Hispanics, and northern Anglos within the United States. Specif-
ically, in Study 1, it was shown that Brazilian students were more
likely than Illinois students to think that a husband who was
cheated on was less masculine than one whose wife was loyal.
Further, Brazilian students thought such an affair reflected as well
on the trustworthiness and general good character of the man,
whereas Illinois students saw the affair as having no relevance to
the man’s good character. Whereas Brazilians were more likely
than Illinois students to view a woman’s affair as reflecting neg-
atively on the man, Illinois students were more likely than Brazil-
ians to believe that the woman’s infidelity reflected poorly on her.
Further, it was shown that a husband’s violence in response to his
wife’s infidelity had very different effects on Brazilian and U.S.
respondents in terms of how violence affected their perceptions of
the husband’s manliness, perceptions of his trustworthiness, judg-
ments about the husband’s love for his wife, and judgments about
the reasonableness of his actions. Results in this experiment were
consistent, though effect sizes illustrated that there was consider-
able overlap in the distributions of the two groups.
In Study 2, we used a high-impact lab experiment to see how
southern Anglos, Latinos, and northern Anglos would react to a
“real” incident of jealousy-related violence between a woman and
her fiance´. Southern Anglos and Latinos were more likely than
northern Anglos to approve of the woman when she was contrite
and loyal to her fiance´ as opposed to assertive and leaving him.
Publicly, they were more likely than northern Anglos to express
tolerance of the violence when they spoke directly to the woman.
Privately, southern Anglos and Latinos had a better overall im-
pression of the woman who would stay with her fiance´, whereas
northern Anglos had a better overall impression of the woman who
would leave. In terms of specific personality traits, southern An-
glos and Latinos were likely to think that the woman who stayed
was just as strong and agentic as the woman who left, whereas
northern Anglos thought that the woman who left was much
stronger. Further, southern Anglos and Latinos viewed the woman
who left as much colder and less morally good than the woman
who stayed, whereas there was no difference in ratings by northern
Anglos. There was again a good deal of overlap in the distributions
for the groups. But generally, effect sizes were larger in Study 2
than in Study 1, perhaps partially because of the limitations of
paper-and-pencil measures that have a hard time tapping into
people’s implicit scripts and/or getting around social desirability
problems. (This argument about the limitation of paper-and-pencil
measures was supported by data within Study 2 itself. Explicit
ratings on the justifiableness of conflict scale showed no differ-
ences between honor and nonhonor groups and, further, showed
little correlation with the variables of interest in this experiment.)
Levels of Focus in Domestic Violence Research
Stepping back from these studies, the most popular approaches
in attempting to understand male violence against women have
generally looked at personal characteristics of the perpetrator or
the victim (Koss et al., 1994, p. 19). Although these approaches are
certainly valid, they often strip the abusive events from their larger
sociocultural context and implicitly view violence as an individual
pathology or deviant act, ignoring the important ways that themes
related to violence can be embedded in cultures.
In the present studies, we have attempted to focus on how the
syndrome of honor might relate to violence. The current approach
argues that domestic violence might be at least partially a by-
product of culturally valued ideals, norms, and expectations about
honor and proper masculine and feminine behavior. Individual
differences undoubtedly exist, and some men will be violent re-
gardless of the cultural context, but the focus of the present work
has been to look at how components of a culture of honor syn-
drome make it possible for otherwise well-adjusted or “normal”
men to become violent and for women to be accepting of this
violence. Strikingly, there were almost no gender differences in
our data, suggesting that men and women are both sharing the
same scripts and expectations in their respective cultures—a con-
clusion that should not be so surprising given the huge role of
women in socializing in cultures of honor (and all cultures) (Nis-
bett & Cohen, 1996; Wyatt-Brown, 1982). Both men and women
may perpetuate aggression through a tacit acceptance and trans-
mission of cultural norms that reinforce the view that men can
sometimes use violence and women should sometimes tolerate it.
Within-Culture Variation
The present article has described between-culture variation in
the honor syndrome. However, we have noted throughout that
there is considerable within-culture variation as well. This is a
point that must be stressed. Additionally, this point can serve as a
springboard for future research into the function of honor norms in
given contexts within a society.
There are, of course, individual differences in attitudes that
derive from temperament, personal experiences, and so on. Fur-
ther, however, there are also important social and structural factors
within a culture that make honor a more or less relevant concern
for some parts of a society. Depending on one’s goals, opportuni-
ties, and means for attaining status, honor may be a more or less
central construct. Recent work by Ghazal and Cohen (2002) in
Saudi Arabia illustrated this point. Collecting data from a commu-
nity sample in Saudi Arabia, they found that concern with a
woman’s honor was most pronounced at the extreme ends of the
social hierarchy. Those who self-reported being from a particularly
high socioeconomic status family and those who reported being
from a particularly low socioeconomic status family were more
likely to agree with statements linking women and family honor
(e.g., “The husband’s honor depends on his wife’s virtue”), more
likely to oppose women’s freedoms (e.g., “A woman should be
free to choose how to live her life”), and more likely to mention an
event having to do with women when asked to imagine “the worse
thing that would bring disgrace on you or your close family” (see
Vandello & Cohen, in press-a). Thus, the emphasis on women’s
honor may be particularly acute in the strata of society where there
is the most focus on traditional extended family arrangements, and
it may be lessened in the middle strata of a society where oppor-
tunities allow for status and social mobility to depend more on
personal achievement, secular education, and individual ambition
(Ghazal & Cohen, 2002). Further, age may be an important qual-
ifying variable as well. In Ghazal and Cohen’s sample of young to
middle-aged adults (ages 21 to 46), it was the young people who
were most likely to express some sort of support when asked to
imagine how they would respond if a friend of theirs “killed his
sister after finding out she was pregnant before marriage.” Age and
generation are, of course, confounded in any cross-sectional sam-
ple. However, it is plausible that, all other things equal and absent
of generational effects, it would be young people who might be
most concerned with honor because they are actively competing
for space in the status hierarchy. In future research, we think it will
be interesting to examine how emphasized honor concerns are as
a result of how honor norms function for different groups within
particular societies (Cohen, 2001). For now, these results serve as
an important qualification on theorizing about cultures of honor,
suggest sources for potential systematic within-culture variation,
and serve as a cautionary note about generalizing too widely about
a given society.
To return to and sum up the empirical studies of the present
article, these lab and questionnaire experiments have illustrated
concretely one of the ways male honor can operate as a focal point
for violence against women. Female infidelity can motivate honor
concerns, and a man’s lost honor can be at least partially redeemed
through his use of violence. On the other side, female loyalty is
expected in the face of such aggression. Such loyalty is not seen as
weakness but as a sign of warmth and goodness, and the woman
who stays in such a situation may be perceived more positively in
a global sense than the woman who leaves. In both studies, there
were few if any gender effects, suggesting that both males and
females endorsed the same general scripts about fidelity, honor,
and loyalty. There are often economic and safety reasons that make
it extremely difficult for women to leave dangerous relationships
that they would rather not be in. However, the present studies also
suggest that there might occasionally be more indirect, social
psychological reasons that keep women in abusive relationships by
suggesting that it is sometimes the proper thing to do.
Domestic violence is the product of many forces. Some reside
within the abusive male himself, but culture also plays a causal
role by providing the scripts for the ways in which males and
females are to behave. A full understanding of the problem of
domestic violence must incorporate an understanding of the way
culture serves to define social relationships and must give consid-
eration to the ways that both men and women are embedded within
the larger cultural meaning system.
Abou-Zeid, A. (1965). Honour and shame among the Bedouins of Egypt.
In J. Peristiany (Ed.), Honour and shame: The values of Mediterranean
society (pp. 243–259). London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson.
Anderson, E. (1994). The code of the streets. Atlantic Monthly, 5, 81–94.
Andrade, S. J. (1982). Social science stereotypes of the Mexican American
woman: Policy implications for research. Hispanic Journal of Behav-
ioral Sciences, 1, 223–244.
Antoun, R. T. (1968). On the modesty of women in Arab Muslim villages.
American Anthropologist, 70, 671–696.
Atack, J. (1989). The evolution of regional economic differences within
Illinois, 1818–1850. In P. Nardulli (Ed.), Diversity, conflict, and state
politics (pp. 61–94). Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Baker, N. V., Gregware, P. R., & Cassidy, M. A. (1999). Family killing
fields: Honor rationales in the murder of women. Violence Against
Women, 5, 164–184.
Becerra, R. (1988). The Mexican American family. In C. H. Mindel, R. W.
Habenstein, & R. Wright Jr. (Eds.), Ethnic families in American: Pat-
terns and variations (pp. 141–159). New York: Elsevier.
Beyer, L. (1999, January 18). The price of honor. Time, 55.
Bourdieu, P. (1965). The sentiment of honour in Kabyle society. In J.
Peristiany (Ed.), Honour and shame: The values of Mediterranean
society (pp. 191–242). London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson.
Buss, D. M., Larsen, R. J., Westen, D., & Semmelroth, J. (1992). Sex
differences in jealousy: Evolution, physiology, and psychology. Psycho-
logical Science, 3, 251–255.
Campbell, J. (1965). Honour and the Devil. In J. Peristiany (Ed.), Honour
and shame: The values of Mediterranean society (pp. 139–170). Lon-
don: Weidenfeld & Nicholson.
Cohen, D. (1997). Ifs and thens in cultural psychology. In R. Wyer (Ed.),
Advances in social cognition (pp. 121–131). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Cohen, D. (2001). Cultural variation: Considerations and implications.
Psychological Bulletin, 127, 451–471.
Cohen, D., Nisbett, R. E., Bowdle, B., & Schwarz, N. (1996). Insult,
aggression, and the southern culture of honor: An “experimental eth-
nography. ” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 945–960.
Cohen, D., Vandello, J. A., Puente, S., & Rantilla, A. K. (1999). “When
you call me that, smile!” How norms for politeness, interaction styles,
and aggression work together in southern culture. Social Psychology
Quarterly, 62, 257–275.
Cohen, D., Vandello, J. A., & Rantilla, A. K. (1998). The sacred and the
social: Cultures of honor and violence. In P. Gilbert & B. Andrews
(Eds.), Shame: Interpersonal behavior, psychopathology, and culture
(pp. 261–282). New York: Oxford University Press.
Daly, M., & Wilson, M. (1988a, October). Evolutionary social psychology
and family homicide. Science, 242, 519–524.
Daly, M., & Wilson, M. (1988b). Homicide. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de
Daly, M., Wilson, M., & Weghorst, S. J. (1982). Male sexual jealousy.
Ethology and Sociobiology, 3, 11–27.
De La Cancela, V. (1986). A critical analysis of Puerto Rican machismo:
Implications for clinical practice. Psychotherapy, 23, 291–296.
del Olmo, F. (2001). Hispanic, Latino, or Chicano? A historical review.
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Retrieved December
2001 from
Delgado, A. R., Prieto, G., & Bond, R. A. (1997). The cultural factor in lay
perceptions of jealousy as a motive for wife battery. Journal of Applied
Social Psychology, 27, 1824–1841.
Ellsberg, M., Caldera, T., Herrera, A., Winkvist, A., & Kullgren, G. (1999).
Domestic violence and emotional distress among Nicaraguan women:
Results from a population-based study. American Psychologist, 54,
Ghazal, R., & Cohen, D. (2002). Values in Saudi Arabian society. Unpub-
lished manuscript, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
Gilmore, D. D. (1987). Honor and shame and the unity of the Mediterra-
nean. Washington, DC: American Anthropological Association.
Gilmore, D. D. (1990). Manhood in the making. New Haven, CT: Yale
University Press.
Ginat, J. (1987). Blood disputes among Bedouin and rural Arabs in Israel.
Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.
Glazer, I. M., & Abu Ras, W. (1994). On aggression, human rights, and
hegemonic discourse: The case of a murder for family honor in Israel.
Sex Roles, 30, 269–288.
Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1996). The ambivalent sexism inventory: Dif-
ferentiating hostile and benevolent sexism. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 70, 491–512.
Granados, G. (2000, December). Hispanic vs. Latino. Hispanic Maga- Retrieved December 2001 from http://www.hispanicmagazine
Grandon, R., & Cohen, D. (2002). Honor and violence in Chile and
Canada. Unpublished manuscript, University of Waterloo, Waterloo,
Ontario, Canada.
Hatfield, E., & Rapson, R. L. (1996). Love and sex: Cross-cultural per-
spectives. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Heine, S., Lehman, D., Peng, K., & Greenholtz, J. (2002). What’s wrong
with cross-cultural comparisons of subjective Likert scales?: The
reference-group effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychol-
ogy, 82, 903–918.
Heise, L. L., Pitanguy, A., & Germain, A. (1994). Violence against women:
The hidden health burden. Washington, DC: World Bank.
Hui, C. H. (1988). Measurement of individualism–collectivism. Journal of
Research in Personality, 22, 17–36.
Johnson, L. L. (1998). Dangerous words, provocative gestures, and violent
acts. In L. L. Johnson & S. Lipsett-Rivera (Eds.), The faces of honor:
Sex, shame, and violence in colonial Latin America (pp. 127–151).
Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
Johnson, L. L., & Lipsett-Rivera, S. (Eds.). (1998). The faces of honor:
Sex, shame, and violence in colonial Latin America. Albuquerque:
University of New Mexico Press.
Kitayama, S. (2002). Culture and basic psychological processes: Toward a
system view of culture. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 89–96.
Koss, M. P., Goodman, L. A., Browne, A., Fitzgerald, L. F., Keita, G. P.,
& Russo, N. F. (1994). No safe haven: Male violence against women at
home, at work, and in the community. Washington, DC: American
Psychological Association.
Lara-Cantu´, M. A. (1989). A sex-role inventory with scales for “ma-
chismo” and “self-sacrificing woman.” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psy-
chology, 20, 386–398.
Lipsett-Rivera, S. (1998). A slap in the face of honor. In L. L. Johnson &
S. Lipsett-Rivera (Eds.), The faces of honor: Sex, shame, and violence in
colonial Latin America (pp. 179–200). Albuquerque: University of New
Mexico Press.
Loizos, P. (1978). Violence and the family: Some Mediterranean examples.
In J. P. Martin (Ed.), Violence and the family (pp. 183–196). New York:
McWhirter, P. T. (1999). La violencia privada: Domestic violence in Chile.
American Psychologist, 54, 37–40.
Mirande´, A. (1977). The Chicano family: A reanalysis of conflicting views.
Journal of Marriage and the Family, 39, 747–755.
Nazzari, M. (1998). An urgent need to conceal. In L. L. Johnson & S.
Lipsett-Rivera (Eds.), The faces of honor: Sex, shame, and violence in
colonial Latin America (pp. 103–126). Albuquerque: University of New
Mexico Press.
Nisbett, R. E., & Cohen, D. (1996). Culture of honor: The psychology of
violence in the South. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Page, J. (1995). The Brazilians. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Pen˜alosa, F. (1968). Mexican family roles. Journal of Marriage and the
Family, 30, 680689.
Peristiany, J. (Ed.). (1965). Honour and shame: The values of Mediterra-
nean society. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson.
Pitt-Rivers, J. (1966). Honour and social status. In J. Peristiany (Ed.),
Honour and shame: The values of Mediterranean society (pp. 19–77).
London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson.
Puente, S., & Cohen, D. (in press). Jealousy and the meaning (or non-
meaning) of violence. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
Reed, J. S. (1981). Below the Smith and Wesson line: Reflections on
southern violence. In M. Black & J. S. Reed (Eds.), Perspectives on the
American South: An annual review of society, politics, and culture (pp.
9–22). New York: Cordon and Breach Science Publications.
Rodriguez Mosquera, P. M., Manstead, A. S. R., & Fischer, A. H. (2000).
The role of honor-related values in the elicitation, experience, and
communication of pride, shame, and anger: Spain and the Netherlands
compared. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 833–844.
Rosenthal, R., & Rosnow, R. (1985). Contrast analysis: Focused compar-
isons in the analysis of variance. Cambridge, England: Cambridge
University Press.
Rosenthal, R., & Rosnow, R. (1991). Essentials of behavioral research:
Methods and data analysis. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Schneider, J. (1971). Of vigilance and virgins. Ethnology, 9, 1–24.
Straus, M. A., & Smith, C. (1990). Violence in Hispanic families in the
United States. In M. A. Straus & R. J. Gelles (Eds.), Physical violence
in American families: Risk factors and adaptations to violence in 8,145
families (pp. 341–367). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
Torres, S. (1987). Hispanic-American battered women: Why consider
cultural differences? Response, 10, 20–21.
Triandis, H. C. (1983). Allocentric versus idiocentric social behavior: A
major cultural difference between Hispanic and mainstream (Tech. Rep.
ONR-16). Champaign: University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign,
Department of Psychology.
Triandis, H. C. (1994). Culture and social behavior. New York: McGraw-
Triandis, H. C. (1996). The psychological measurement of cultural syn-
dromes. American Psychologist, 51, 407–415.
Triandis, H. C., Lisansky, J., Marı´n, G., & Betancourt, H. (1984). Simpatı´a
as a cultural script of Hispanics. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 14, 489–500.
Vandello, J. A., & Cohen, D. (1999). Patterns of individualism and col-
lectivism in the United States. Journal of Personality and Social Psy-
chology, 77, 279–292.
Vandello, J. A., & Cohen, D. (2003). Cultural themes associated with
violence against women: A cross-cultural analysis. Unpublished manu-
script, Princeton University.
Vandello, J. A., & Cohen, D. (in press-a). Tenuous manhood and domestic
violence against women. In S. Fein, A. Goethals, & M. Sandstrom
(Eds.), Gender and aggression: Interdisciplinary perspectives. Mahwah,
NJ: Erlbaum.
Vandello, J. A., & Cohen, D. (in press-b). When believing is seeing:
Sustaining norms of violence in cultures of honor. In M. Schaller & C.
Crandall (Eds.), The psychological foundations of culture. New York:
Vazquez-Nuttall, E., Romero-Garcia, I., & de Leon, B. (1987). Sex roles
and perceptions of femininity and masculinity of Hispanic women: A
review of the literature. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 11, 409425.
Wagar, B., & Cohen, D. (in press). Culture, memory, and the self. Journal
of Experimental Social Psychology.
Wilson, C. R., & Ferris, W. (Eds.). (1989). Encyclopedia of southern
culture. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
Wilson, M., & Daly, M. (1992). The man who mistook his wife for chattel.
In J. H. Barkow, L. Cosmides, & J. Tooby (Eds.), The adapted mind:
Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture (pp. 289–322).
New York: Oxford University Press.
Wyatt-Brown, B. (1982). Southern honor: Ethics and behavior in the Old
South. New York: Oxford University Press.
Youssef, N. (1973). Cultural ideals, feminine behavior, and family control.
Comparative Studies in Society and History, 13, 326–347.
Received September 16, 2001
Revision received July 8, 2002
Accepted July 8, 2002
... Morality-based honor shows greatest similarity across cultures with the other facets displaying more cross-cultural variability. For example, studies show that "honor cultures," such as Pakistan (Rodriguez Mosquera et al., 2013), Spain (Rodriguez Mosquera et al., 2002), Brazil (Vandello & Cohen, 2003), Turkey (Cross et al., 2013), and even the southern part of the United States (Cohen et al., 1996) place a higher emphasis on genderbased honor. In addition to maintaining personal honor, people may also try to maintain the shared honor of their groups such as family (Rodriguez Mosquera et al., 2013;van Osch et al., 2013) or country (Barnes et al., 2014), especially in more collectivistic cultures. ...
... One way of coping with challenges to one's honor is to strategically enact behaviors designed to mitigate the threat. Support for this possibility comes from evidence that men across cultures respond to threats to masculine honor by attempting to reassert their honor through aggression and displays of fearlessness (Vandello & Cohen, 2003). In the same vein, when the behavior of a group member threatens the reputation of a group, the group may symbolically distance itself from the transgressor (Ashokkumar et al., 2019). ...
... The current research builds upon studies of honor-based violence toward wives or romantic partners (Vandello & Cohen, 2003) by exploring instances wherein men aggress against genetically related kin: their daughters. Although we are not the first in psychology to consider this possibility, the handful of studies that have examined violence against blood relatives have focused on culture-level variations rather than individual-level variations (Caffaro et al., 2014) or are limited to examining people's perceptions of such violence (Caffaro et al., 2016) rather than intention to actually enact violent behaviors. ...
Full-text available
The psychological processes underlying honor violence against kin are poorly understood. We assumed that honor violence against daughters who violate a gendered norm is designed to uphold family honor and nurture positive links to the community. Four studies with Indian men supported this formulation. As expected, endorsement of honor violence (i.e., slapping or disowning the daughter) increased insofar as perceived community awareness of the violation increased. Moreover, endorsement of honor violence was especially common among those whose identities were closely aligned (“fused”) with their community. Finally, a desire to restore threatened family honor, rather than a motivation to prevent future dishonor, motivates honor violence against daughters; conversely, a desire to prevent future dishonor motivates constructive activities such as advising. Ironically, a benign, culturally universal desire to maintain positive ties to the community can encourage community members to endorse violence toward transgressive kin.
... This dearth of understanding may, in part, be due to the aforementioned frequent use of all-male samples in previous studies. Consequently, many have concluded that the honor-aggression link is primarily driven by males (Cohen et al., 1996) and that, although honor endorsing women encourage aggressive responding, honor endorsing men are predominately tasked with carrying out aggressive acts (Vandello & Cohen, 2003). ...
... In order to test this hypothesis, we presented participants with three vignettes detailing a woman's reputation being threatened, the reputation of a woman's family member being threatened, and a mate-poaching scenario. The content for these vignettes were determined in part by prior research suggesting that such contexts would serve as a feminine honor threat (Foster et al., 2020b;Vandello & Cohen, 2003), as well as by supplementary information collected in Study 2 suggesting that honor-endorsing women were more likely to view reactive relational aggression as warranted in these specific circumstances (see Supplemental Material). 4 ...
... Masculinity norms in honor cultures and the precarity of men's status have received much attention, primarily investigating honor endorsing men's use of physical aggression for reputational defense/restoration (Brown, 2016;Cross et al., 2013;O'Dea et al., 2017;Vandello & Cohen, 2003). Research on women in honor cultures has been comparatively lacking, and has been primarily focused on women's expectations to be sexually pure, a loyal partner, and a good mother (Foster et al., 2020b;Rodriguez Mosquera, 2013). ...
Research on honor cultures has centered almost exclusively on men and men's use of physical aggression as a means of reputation defense, while tacitly overlooking women's role(s). Across three studies (N = 813), we examined whether honor endorsing women, like men, exhibit aggressive tendencies, albeit in the form of relational aggression. We found that women's honor endorsement predicted greater use of reactive relational aggression (e.g., ignoring and excluding others; Studies 1 and 2), but only among women who felt they were not achieving what it means to be an honorable woman (Study 2). Lastly, we found that women higher in feminine honor endorsement were more supportive of women who relationally aggressed (i.e. spreading rumors, social exclusion) in response to reputation threats (Study 3). Taken together, the present research indicates that honor endorsing women are more active in reputation maintenance and defense than prior work has acknowledged.
... Morality-based honor shows greatest similarity across cultures with the other facets displaying more cross-cultural variability. For example, studies show that "honor cultures," such as Pakistan (Rodriguez Mosquera et al., 2013), Spain (Rodriguez Mosquera et al., 2002), Brazil (Vandello & Cohen, 2003), Turkey (Cross et al., 2013), and even the southern part of the United States (Cohen et al., 1996) place a higher emphasis on genderbased honor. In addition to maintaining personal honor, people may also try to maintain the shared honor of their groups such as family (Rodriguez Mosquera et al., 2013;van Osch et al., 2013) or country (Barnes et al., 2014), especially in more collectivistic cultures. ...
... One way of coping with challenges to one's honor is to strategically enact behaviors designed to mitigate the threat. Support for this possibility comes from evidence that men across cultures respond to threats to masculine honor by attempting to reassert their honor through aggression and displays of fearlessness (Vandello & Cohen, 2003). In the same vein, when the behavior of a group member threatens the reputation of a group, the group may symbolically distance itself from the transgressor (Ashokkumar et al., 2019). ...
... The current research builds upon studies of honor-based violence toward wives or romantic partners (Vandello & Cohen, 2003) by exploring instances wherein men aggress against genetically related kin: their daughters. Although we are not the first in psychology to consider this possibility, the handful of studies that have examined violence against blood relatives have focused on culture-level variations rather than individual-level variations (Caffaro et al., 2014) or are limited to examining people's perceptions of such violence (Caffaro et al., 2016) rather than intention to actually enact violent behaviors. ...
The psychological processes underlying honor violence against kin are poorly understood. We assumed that honor violence against daughters who violate a gendered norm is designed to uphold family honor and nurture positive links to the community. Four studies with Indian men supported this formulation. As expected, endorsement of honor violence (i.e., slapping or disowning the daughter) increased insofar as perceived community awareness of the violation increased. Moreover, endorsement of honor violence was especially common among those whose identities were closely aligned (“fused”) with their community. Finally, a desire to restore threatened family honor, rather than a motivation to prevent future dishonor, motivates honor violence against daughters; conversely, a desire to prevent future dishonor motivates constructive activities such as advising. Ironically, a benign, culturally universal desire to maintain positive ties to the community can encourage community members to endorse violence toward transgressive kin.
... Finally, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, India, Israel, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Spain, and the UAE have been identified as honor cultures (Aslani et al., 2016;Krys et al., 2017;Maitner et al., 2017;Rodriguez Mosquera et al., 2002;Smith et al., 2017;Świdrak et al., 2019;Szmajke, 2008;Vandello & Cohen, 2003;Yao et al., 2017;Zdybek & Walczak, 2019). Honor cultures emerge in harsh, competitive environments with high levels of status inequality and historically weak institutions (Henry, 2009;Leung & Cohen, 2011). ...
... Combined with historically weak institutions, reciprocity norms encourage individuals to regulate anti-social behavior personally, especially when such behavior has direct implications for individuals or their ingroups (Leung & Cohen, 2011). Thus, reciprocity norms may account for why honor cultures are perceived as especially violent (Bond, 2004;Cohen, 1998;Cohen et al., 1996;Cohen & Nisbett, 1994, 1997Nisbett, 1993;Vandello & Cohen, 2003). Research shows that national honor values account for national differences in peer-directed aggression (Bergeron & Schneider, 2005), and that aggression in honor cultures serves a norm-regulating function (Bond, 2004), particularly when honor is threatened (see Cross et al., 2013;Günsoy et al., 2015;Uskul et al., 2015). ...
... Research shows that although anger is afforded in dignity and honor cultures, reactions to anger-eliciting situations tend to differ, especially when an individual's honor is at stake. Individuals who come from honor cultures or endorse honor norms show an increase in stress and aggression hormones after insult , and show more violent responding (Bond, 2004;Cohen, 1998;Cohen et al., 1996;Cohen & Nisbett, 1994, 1997Nisbett, 1993;Vandello & Cohen, 2003). ...
Full-text available
Emotions are linked to wide sets of action tendencies, and it can be difficult to predict which specific action tendency will be motivated or indulged in response to individual experiences of emotion. Building on a functional perspective of emotion, we investigate whether anger and shame connect to different behavioral intentions in dignity, face, and honor cultures. Using simple animations that showed perpetrators taking resources from victims, we conducted two studies across eleven countries investigating the extent to which participants expected victims to feel anger and shame, how they thought victims should respond to such violations, and how expectations of emotions were affected by enacted behavior. Across cultures, anger was associated with desires to reclaim resources or alert others to the violation. In face and honor cultures, but not dignity cultures, shame was associated with the desire for aggressive retaliation. However, we found that when victims indulged motivationally-relevant behavior, expected anger and shame were reduced, and satisfaction increased, in similar ways across cultures. Results suggest similarities and differences in expectations of how emotions functionally elicit behavioral responses across cultures.
... Women in honor cultures do their utmost to ensure that their behavior does not in any way compromise the reputation of either themselves or their honor circle by being perceived as disloyal, impure, or unfaithful. Failure to uphold their reputation risks not only damaging the reputation of a woman and her honor circle, but violent reprisals to restore the lost or compromised honor, which can manifest as domestic abuse and even so-called "honor killings" (Brown et al., 2018;King, 2008;Vandello & Cohen 2003;Vandello et al., 2009). ...
Full-text available
The psychological study of honor is predicated on hitherto-unexamined assumptions that gendered facets of honor culture meaningfully exists across groups. It is assumed that both males and females, despite having different normative and contextual concerns, share the same concepts of their own and the other genders honor. It is further assumed that honor’s gendered facets can be meaningfully assumed to exist across cultural and geographic groups. However, paradoxically, honor within an American context is studied in a primarily white context based on historical Scots-Irish immigration patterns, and most common measures of honor draw from this. The present paper examines honor’s existence across both gender and ethnicity-based contexts using factorial invariance testing. Two established measures of honor ideology – the Honor Ideology for Manhood (HIM) and the Honor Ideology for Womanhood (HIW) scales – were evaluated for their ability to meaningfully represent the same latent construct of honor across these contexts. Results indicated that the HIM should be re-conceptualized and reorganized into an updated scale, the HIM-R, representing the distinct facets of reputation and retaliation-based concerns for masculine honor. The HIW achieved meaningful invariance across gender groups. Both the HIW and the reconceptualized HIM-R achieved meaningful invariance across ethnicity-based contexts. The implications of these findings for honor research in American contexts is discussed.
... He described people as both consciously and unconsciously imitating others ('mimesis') not only in their speech but also in the way they held their body and conducted mannerisms ('hexis') and through their actions, thoughts, attitudes and perceptions. His ideas of social 'scripts' have been used to frame explorations of domestic violence as an individual-level manifestation of structural themes of patriarchal power, particularly in so-called 'honour killings' (Grzyb, 2016;Vandello & Cohen, 2003). He presented this model as the way in which individual behaviour (shaped by social norms) fed back into wider society, and his account of how individuals absorb those social norms pre-empts subsequent overlapping theories around unconscious decision-making, which I will explore in section 3.6. ...
Full-text available
This thesis uses a novel methodology to understand parole decisions about perpetrators of domestic violence in England and Wales as complex adaptive systems. It informs victims, parole board members, researchers, and policymakers about the nature of decisions for this group of offenders. Existing research examines correlations between case variables and the outcome of a hearing and explores the thought processes of board members. But no previous studies explored parole decisions specifically about perpetrators of domestic violence, and few have examined other parole decisions in England and Wales. This research examines the variables associated with a release decision for a prisoner whose sole or primary risk involves domestic violence, and the dynamics behind any associations. I explore whether the nature of domestic violence requires a specific approach to decision-making and whether this is reflected in the results. My novel use of a primary dataset of 137 parole decisions, coded from decision letters, draws on a positivist tradition, while my thematic analysis of 20 interviews with parole board members takes an interpretivist approach. I develop the data into a systems model of the parole decision. My findings show that recommendations from the offender supervisor, offender manager and especially the psychologist are such a strong predictor of the decision that they amount to an effective ‘veto’ on release. Perpetrator programmes are important only insofar as an offender’s refusal to attend suggests a lack of insight. Parole boards are more concerned with risk manageability than risk level and are less likely to release offenders with a history of ‘less manageable’ controlling behaviour. This research shows that parole boards are influenced by domestic violence research, by structural factors and nature of offending, and that the underlying variables associated with release as determined through the mixed methods analysis are subtly different to those they emphasise consciously.
... But when benevolent sexism no longer helps coerce women into traditional female behavior, hostile sexism may be activated, thereby increasing the probability of violence toward women. In other words, despite the fact that in close relationships most interactions can be based on benevolent attitudes, violence can swiftly replace protection and be perceived as a way to restore status and reputation, increase control over women, and return them to traditional gender behavior (Vandello & Cohen, 2003). At the same time, Cross with colleagues (2017) showed that in close relationships, the relationship between hostile sexism and aggression toward a partner will depend on perceived partner's commitment. ...
Full-text available
The Ambivalent Sexism Theory suggests that there are two complementary types of sexism: hostile (subjectively negative attitude towards gender groups) and benevolent (subjectively positive attitude towards gender groups). In this meta‐analysis we analyzed the relationship between ambivalent sexism and attitudes toward male‐to‐female violence or violent behavior. Violence type, the context of violence, respondents’ gender, the countries’ level of gender inequality, and sample type were tested as moderators. The results showed that both hostile and benevolent sexism independently impact on attitudes toward violence and violent behavior albeit to a different degree. Specifically, the relationship between hostile sexism and attitudes and behavior is stronger than for the benevolent sexism. The type and context of violence moderate the relationship between hostile sexism and attitudes toward violence and violent behavior. Only the country's gender inequality levels showed a moderation effect for benevolent sexism. Theoretical and practical implications of the results are discussed. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
... Bu nedenle namus, sürekli olarak rekabet edilmesi gereken bir şeydir. Namus kaybedildiğinde yaşana(cak)n utanç korkusu için mücadele, özel ve kamusal etkileşimin çeşitli düzeylerinde hem erkekleri hem de kadınları etkilemiştir (Peristiany, 1987;Vandello ve Cohen, 2003: Mosquera ve diğerleri, 2002. Örneğin, Vandello ve Cohen'in (2003) evli çiftlerle yaptığı bir çalışmada, namus (Brezilya) ve namus dışı kültürlerde (ABD), erkeklerin ve kadınların saldırganlığı algılama biçimindeki farklılıklar incelenmiştir. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Toplumların karakteristik davranış kuralları mevcuttur. Toplumlar, bu kurallar çerçevesinde davranışları onaylamakta, itaat edenleri ödüllendirmekte ve itaat etmeyenleri cezalandırmaktadırlar. Ortadoğu ve Kuzey Afrika kelimelerinin İngilizce ifadelerinin kısaltmasından oluşan MENA (Middle East and North Africa), çeşitli açılardan hem farklılık (gelişme düzeyi, sosyoekonomik düzey vb.) hem de benzerlik gösteren ülkeleri kapsayan geniş bir coğrafi alandır. MENA'yı oluşturan coğrafi bölgelerdeki toplumların hemen hemen hepsinde, bireylerin davranışlarına yanıt (onaylama-onaylama, ceza ya da ödül), namus (onur) temelinde verilmektedir. Başka bir ifadeyle, MENA toplumlarında yapılan çalışmalar ve bu çalışmalardan elde edilen bilgiler, bölgenin baskın değer sisteminin 'namus' ile karakterize olduğunu ve namusla ilişkili olarak, toplumun kişilerarası görgü kuralları, öz bakım uygulamaları ile şekillendiğini öne sürmektedir. Dolayısıyla MENA toplumlarında 'namus (onur)' birincil değer sistemidir ve bireyler benliklerini, ahlaki yargılarını bu değer sistemi çerçevesinde organize etmektedir. Bu toplumlar aynı zamanda namus kültürü (honor culture) olarak adlandırılmaktadır. Bu çalışmada MENA toplumlarının değer yargılarının hem çerçevesini hem de içeriğini oluşturan 'namus (onur) kültürü'nün tanıtılması ve bu kültürlerde yapılmış çalışma sonuçlarının derlenerek aktarılması amaçlanmıştır. Anahtar kelimeler: MENA toplumları, değerler, ahlak, namus kültürü. Societies have characteristic behavioral rules. Societies approve behaviors within the framework of these rules, reward those who obey and punish those who do not obey. MENA (The Middle East and North Africa), which is an abbreviation of the English expressions of the words the Middle East and North Africa, is a wide geographical area covering countries that are both different (development level, socioeconomic level, etc.) and similar in various aspects. In almost all of the societies in the geographical regions that make up the MENA, response to the behavior of individuals (approval-disapproval, punishment, or reward) is given based on honor. In other words, the studies conducted in MENA societies, and the information obtained from these studies suggest that the dominant value system of the region is characterized by 'honor' and, concerning honor, the society is shaped by interpersonal etiquette and self-care practices. Therefore, in MENA societies, 'honor' is the primary value system and individuals organize their selves and moral judgments within the framework of this value system. These societies are also called honor cultures. In this study, it is aimed to introduce the 'culture of honor', which constitutes both the framework and the content of the value judgments of MENA societies, and to compile and convey the results of the studies conducted in these cultures. Keywords: MENA societies, values, moral, honor culture.
This article uses the narratives of survivors of honor killing to show that women's agency is the reason for life threats because it undermines masculine domination. The findings show that life threats are made against women engaging in behaviors not aligned to cultural norms as perceived by male members of their family, to escape shame and gossip, and it is a manifestation of men losing control over women. These survivors of honor-based violence have undermined masculine domination by acting in unanticipated ways and by fleeing to a shelter home in the face of overwhelming cultural sanctions and structural inequalities.
La violencia contra las mujeres en la pareja es un problema que afecta a la mayoría de las sociedades. Si bien se ha descrito a los hombres que ejercen esta violencia desde el punto de vista clínico, analizar la aceptación de las actitudes sexistas permitiría incorporar la influencia de otras variables contextuales que expliquen el fenómeno desde una perspectiva más amplia. En el presente trabajo se analiza, con una muestra de 121 hombres que han ejercido violencia contra las mujeres, la relación entre la percepción de la violencia como asunto privado y las actitudes sexistas. Los resultados muestran que quienes consideran que la violencia contra la pareja es un asunto privado obtienen puntuaciones más elevadas tanto en el componente hostil como en el benévolo, y que es en la dimensión hostil del sexismo donde se hallan mayores diferencias (t = 4.03; p = .000), con un tamaño del efecto alto (d = 0.75). Identificar la violencia contra las mujeres como un problema social y no como un asunto privado parece ser un paso relevante en las intervenciones para deconstruir las actitudes discriminatorias y erradicar la violencia hacia las mujeres.
Full-text available
Although the individualism–collectivism dimension is usually examined in a U.S. versus Asian context, there is variation within the United States. The authors created an eight-item index ranking states in terms of collectivist versus individualist tendencies. As predicted, collectivist tendencies were strongest in the Deep South, and individualist tendencies were strongest in the Mountain West and Great Plains. In Part 2, convergent validity for the index was obtained by showing that state collectivism scores predicted variation in individual attitudes, as measured by a national survey. In Part 3, the index was used to explore the relationship between individualism–collectivism and a variety of demographic, economic, cultural, and health-related variables. The index may be used to complement traditional measures of collectivism and individualism and may be of use to scholars seeking a construct to account for unique U.S. regional variation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Social comparison theory maintains that people think about themselves compared with similar others. Those in one culture, then, compare themselves with different others and standards than do those in another culture, thus potentially confounding cross-cultural comparisons. A pilot study and Study I demonstrated the problematic nature of this reference-group effect: Whereas cultural experts agreed that East Asians are more collectivistic than North Americans, cross-cultural comparisons of trait and attitude measures failed to reveal such a pattern. Study 2 found that manipulating reference groups enhanced the expected cultural differences, and Study 3 revealed that people from different cultural backgrounds within the same country exhibited larger differences than did people from different countries. Cross-cultural comparisons using subjective Likert scales are compromised because of different reference groups. Possible solutions are discussed.
Cultural systems vary widely across the world. Partly this is due to different cultures' occupying different ecological and environmental niches. But partly it is due to similar circumstances giving rise to multiple stable equilibriums, each with a distinct cultural form. Using insights and examples from various fields, this article illustrates the way that multiple equilibriums can emerge and the forces that push a culture toward one equilibrium point or another. Considerations of game theory principles, mutual interdependence, historical circumstance, dependence on initial conditions, and crucial choice points are highlighted in discussing the ways humans create and re-create their culture. Cultural traits develop within physical, social, intracultural, and intercultural niches, and implications of this for how culture might be studied and the benefits of combining an "equilibrium" perspective and a "meaning" perspective are discussed.