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.
- Culture of honor
- Goal conflict