Innovations in measuring aggression

This paper is an oldie but goodie.

Three experiments examined how norms characteristic of a “culture of honor” manifest themselves in the cognitions, emotions, behaviors, and physiological reactions of southern White males.

Participants were University of Michigan students who grew up in the North or South. In 3 experiments, they were insulted by aconfederate who bumped into the participant and called him an “asshole.” Compared with northerners—who were relatively unaffected by the insult—southerners were (a) more likely to think their masculine reputation was threatened, (b) more upset (as shown by a rise in cortisol levels), (c) more physiologically primed for aggression (as shown by a rise in testosterone levels), (d) more cognitively primed for aggression, and (e) more likely to engage in aggressive and dominant behavior.

Findings highlight the insult–aggression cycle in cultures of honor, in which insults diminish a man’s reputation and he tries to restore.

Somewhat coincidentally, I have just finished reading the first book of North and South, the famed Civil War trilogy. I consume fiction voraciously with a new baby, because I have to do something while bouncing the little stinker on a yoga ball for three hours a night to get him to sleep.

It was fun to read, but a touch cartoonish for my taste. So I will not pick up books two and three. Recommended reads welcome.