My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: VII. Cultural Differences–Honor and Aggression
A distinctive feature of honor cultures is the extent to which one’s personal worth is determined interpersonally. A cross-cultural study on Spain and the Netherlands found that Spanish participants attach more importance than their Dutch counterparts to honor, family-related values and social recognition, while Dutch participants rate individualism-related values as more important (Mosquera et al., 2000). In honor cultures, one’s own honor and the honor of intimate others are interdependent. In honor cultures as compared to other cultures, not only is one’s own honor more vulnerable to humiliations and insults by intimates than by non-intimates, but also being offended by others in front of intimates may lead to more negative feelings, especially of shame. Moreover, it was suggested that if one’s honor is diminished, the honor of one’s intimates also will be diminished (Mosquera et al., 2000).
Several studies referred to the relatively strong emotional reactions to insults by individuals from honor cultures. One study on men in the South of the United States, where norms of honor are adhered to, found that insulted men may react with aggressive or violent behavior (Cohen et al., 1996). A couple of studies compared individuals from Spain (more concerned with honor) and the Netherlands (less concerned with honor). In Spain, honor was found to be more closely related to family and social interdependence, whereas in the Netherlands honor was associated with self-achievement and autonomy (Mosquera et al., 2002b). Spanish participants responded especially intensely to insults – as compared to Dutch participants – when their family was involved (Mosquera et al., 2002a). Another Dutch study found insulted men adhering to norms of honor to be more angry, less joyful, less fearful, and less resigned (IJzerman et al., 2007). A study on Brazilians and Americans from different cultural backgrounds found that “(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” (Vandello & Cohen, 2003, p. 997).