U.S. Southern and Northern Differences In Perceptions of Norms about Aggression: Mechanisms for the Perpetuation of a Culture of Honor

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culture of honor, aggression, pluralistic ignorance, cultural lag, norm perpetuation

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This article explores one reason why norms for male honor-related aggression persist in the U.S. South, even though they may no longer be functional. The authors suggest that, in addition to cultural differences in internalized honor-related values, southerners are more likely than northerners to perceive peer endorsement of aggression norms. Study 1 found that southern males were especially likely to overestimate the aggressiveness of their peers. Study 2 tested the hypothesis that southerners would be more likely to actively encourage aggressive behavior in others, but no support was found. However, Study 3 found that southern men were more likely than northern men to perceive others as encouraging aggression when witnessing interpersonal conflicts. Together, these studies suggest that southern males are more likely than their northern counterparts to assume their peers endorse and enforce norms of aggression that can lead to the perpetuation of norms for honorable violence above and beyond any differences in internalized values.

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Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, v. 39, issue 2, p. 162-177