Sweet tea, politeness, respect and the word “ya’ll” are all inherent parts of life in the Southern United States. New research shows that vengeance can be added to that list as well.
New research claims that both men and women in the South are more apt to an aggressive — and sometimes extreme — response to threats against the Nation than their Yankee counterparts.
In two studies, researchers worked to measure individual and regional differences in honor ideology throughout the United States.
“Honor ideology encompasses beliefs about how men are supposed to behave in the face of provocations and the attributes that ‘real’ men should exhibit,” said Collin Barnes of the University of Oklahoma, lead author of the research published online this month in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
The research team developed a scale to measure individual honor ideology. It includes eight statements about the conditions under which men should use physical aggression to defend themselves or their reputations (e.g., “A man has the right to use physical aggression against another man who insults his mother”), as well as eight statements about the defining qualities of “real men” (e.g., “A real man will never back down from a fight”). After completing this honor ideology scale, the men responded to questions about a fictitious attack on the Statue of Liberty.
The researchers found that high levels of belief in honor ideology brought more hostile responses.
“For instance, one high scorer on the honor scale suggested that the only way to deal with radical Muslims is to use nuclear force, paying no mind to collateral damage,” Barnes said.
Another participant simply said, “Kill ’em all.”
In a second study examining regional differences, male and female college students from a Southern honor State and a Northern State were asked about their response to the 9/11 attacks. Among both men and women, desires for lethal retaliation against the 9/11 terrorists were stronger for those attending school in the honor State.
“Honor values of masculine strength and toughness can be endorsed by men and women, and although men are often the ones who engage in military combat, women may give voice to their honor values by endorsing militaristic responses to national provocations just as men who hold these values do,” Barnes said.