Chapter 4: Methods for Studying Culture and Psychology
Case Study: Culture of Honor in the US South Authors: Dov Cohen and Richard Nisbett
Culture of honor: A culture that is defined by strong concerns about one’s own and others’
reputations, leading to sensitivity to slights and insults_ and a willingness to use violence to avenge
any perceived wrong or insult
Case study history: Since the early 18th century, a number of observers have commented on the
greater violence in the US South than the North. This has been evident in a greater frequency of
feuds, duels, homicides etc. and greater support for corporal punishment, gun ownership, and war.
Herders and a Culture of Honor
Herders live a precarious existence as their wealth is portable. Others can steal your herds.. The
problem is made worse because herding is usually done on marginal lands, which are sparsely
populated, and thus difficult to police. People will be more likely to protect their herds if they can
develop a reputation as someone who would respond to threats with violence. (don’t mess with those
guys they are bad)
Culture of Honor, Culture of Retaliation
System of retribution. The multi years of feud between families that started for a long time. The
retaliation started for 3 generations. They thought that they have to defend their honor in that many
people of both families die.
Culture of Honor: Child Rearing Styles
“From an early age, small boys were taught to think much of their own honor and to be active in its
defense. Honor in this society meant a pride of manhood in masculine courage, physical strength, and
warrior virtue. Male children were trained to defend their honor without a moments’ hesitation
lashing out against their challengers with savage violence.
Evidence for Culture of Honor Account (mul data study by the above authors)
Main point: Explored how various kinds of indices of violence varied across regions of the US
using different form of data analysis/research types. These were:
1) Archival Data Analysis (Why do southern have more violence)
Some account for this:
• US South had a longer history of slavery (4))
• US South is poorer than the North (2)
• US South is hotter than the North (3)
Nisbett and Cohen’s account: largely herders settled The South, whereas farmers largely settled the
North. This led to the development of a “Culture of Honor” in the US South. They offered four
1) The homicide rate will be higher in the south then the north for whites people.
2) In small and rural city the difference will be more as their is big different btw farmer vs. herders.
However in the large city there will not be that much different. 3) The homicide for black will be
unrelated for regions
4) Within in the south the effect of herding will be prominent.
5) There will be argumentbased violence. The murder will be elevated with conflict related problem
in which honor is involved. In the robbery and others there will be less homicides. Chapter 4: Methods for Studying Culture and Psychology
Data: The Economy is a good predictor (1)
As expected, the murder rate (of whites) is higher in the areas where herding is more commonly
practiced (dry plains) than it is in the areas where farming is practiced ( moist plains)
Data: The Income is not a good predictor (2)
• People in the farming areas make slightly more than those in the herding areas.
• This difference in wealth is much smaller than the difference in violence rates between the
two areas(show in the previous graph), so this argues against the poverty account.
Data: The Temperature is not a good predictor (3)
• If anything, the farming areas are hotter (and considerably more humid) than the herding
areas, yet the violence rates are higher in the herding areas.
• This goes against the temperature account of these differences.
Data: The Slavery Traditions not a good predictor (4)
• Slaves had been far more common in farming regions than in herding regions, yet the
violence rate is higher in the herding regions.
• This goes against the slavery account.
Further comments and overall:
1) The South doesn’t differ from the North in just any kind of violence. The difference is most
pronounced for argumentrelated murders, where one’s honor is at stake.
2) The regional differences are more pronounced in less urban areas. In urban areas there is less
influence from traditional herding cultures.
3) This data