Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Susan E. Cross
In honor cultures (e.g., Turkey, Southern US), self-worth depends on one’s own perception and on other people’s opinions about oneself, and reputation is very important. In dignity cultures (Northern US, Western Europe), self-worth mainly depends on the individual and cannot be taken away by others. In this work, I investigated how people from an honor culture, Turkey, and from a dignity culture, northern US, emotionally and behaviorally responded to two types of conflict: A true accusation of a transgression and negative performance feedback. Honor has three facets common to these two cultures: Social respect (being respectable in society), moral behavior (being honest), and self-respect (feeling proud of oneself). I proposed that true accusations of a transgression would be a complete honor threat because they threatened all three facets, whereas private negative performance feedback would only be a self-respect threat. I conducted an online survey (Experiment 1) and a laboratory study (Experiment 2) to compare the two cultures. In Experiment 1, participants read conflict scenarios and imagined themselves as the target of the scenario. They indicated how they would feel and behaviorally respond to the conflict source (e.g., the accuser). In Experiment 2, participants were actually accused by an experimenter for cheating on a task or received negative performance feedback. Their emotional and behavioral responses were measured with multiple methods.
Results revealed that for people from Turkey (an honor culture), being rightfully accused of a transgression was more humiliating and anger-provoking than receiving poor performance feedback. Moreover, Turkish people became more defensive in response to rightful accusations compared to negative performance feedback. I also found that northern Americans (a dignity culture), perceived rightful accusations and negative performance feedback similarly humiliating and anger-provoking, and they became similarly defensive in response to these two threats. These results are in line with the importance and centrality of reputation and social respect in honor cultures and the emphasis on achievements and positive self-esteem in individualistic dignity cultures. The findings of this work may have implications for many contexts such as politics, work relations, and romantic relationships.
Gunsoy, Ceren, "A cross-cultural comparison of responses to true accusations and the role of honor values" (2016). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 15708.