chapter  4
17 Pages

Violence without Honor in the American South

WithRoy D'Andrade

In a series of publications, Cohen, Nisbett, Vandello, and their collaborators have argued that the American South is characterized by a culture of honor which legitimates physical violence as an appropriate response to insults and personal provocations. Cohen and his collaborators have presented an impressive body of evidence for this claim. They find on a range of measures, including ratings of expressive behavior, fantasied aggression in response to insult, and Cortisol and testosterone levels, that southern undergraduates, compared to northern undergraduates, become angrier and tend to be more aggressive after being insulted. When faced with the problem of dealing with a persistently annoying person, southern undergraduates are likely to be more polite at first but become more openly angry and confrontational over time (Cohen, Vandello, Puente, and Rantilla, 1999). Cohen and his collaborators also find that the cultural representations and social polices of the South, compared to the North, excuse and sometimes actively support the use of violence as a response to insult or threat. Cohen, 1996, 1998; Cohen & Nisbett, 1994, 1997; Cohen, Nisbett, Bowdle & Schwarz, 1996; Cohen & Vandello, 1998; Cohen, Vandello & Rantilla, 1998; Nisbett & Cohen, 1996; Vandello & Cohen 2001,Vandello & Cohen n.d.).