The influence of honor threats on goal delay and goal derailment: A comparison of Turkey, Southern US, and Northern US

Ceren Günsoy*, Minjoo Joo, Susan E. Cross, Ayse K. Uskul, Pelin Gul, S. Arzu Wasti, Phia Salter, Andrea Haugen, K. Duygu Erdaş, Afşar Yegin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Honor means having a good reputation (e.g., being known as an honest person) and self-respect (e.g., being proud of one's own competence). In honor cultures (e.g., Turkey, Southern U.S.), people are more sensitive to threats to their moral reputation (e.g., being called a liar) than in dignity cultures (e.g., Northern U.S.), and they respond more strongly to these threats to restore their damaged reputation. Taking a goal conflict approach, we propose that among members of honor cultures, restoration of honor in response to a morality threat can become a superordinate goal, and can result in the neglect or derailment of other goals. In two experiments (n = 941), participants from Turkey (a non-Western honor culture), the U.S. South (a Western honor culture), and the U.S. North (a dignity culture) received a morality threat (accusation of dishonesty), a competence threat (accusation of poor writing ability), or neutral feedback. As predicted, participants from honor cultures, but not the dignity culture, were more likely to delay their subsequent goals after receiving a threat to their moral reputation (vs. competence threat or neutral conditions; Study 1). Moreover, Turkish participants were more likely to display goal derailment after receiving a morality threat compared to a competence threat, but there was no difference in responses to the two types of threat among the U.S. Northerners or Southerners (Study 2). This research is the first to examine honor using a goal conflict framework and to conduct laboratory experiments in two honor cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103974
JournalJournal of experimental social psychology
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Culture of honor
  • Goal conflict
  • Morality
  • Reputation

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