Honor and Emotion

We showed that morality-based honor is centered on honesty and trust, and is the most universal type of honor. Across cultures, individuals feel bad about themselves if they are dishonest and untrustworthy. Family-based honor is based on the reputation of the family as a collective. It is the type of honor that varies most across cultures. For example, those who highly value family honor feel greater happiness about their family’s good reputation. Masculine and feminine honor are gender-specific honor codes. As such, they are most influenced by one’s biological sex (male or female), rather than by one’s cultural background (e.g., Dutch or Spanish). For this reason, male and females from different cultures respond with equally intense anger, or shame, to violations of the masculine (i.e., lack of toughness) or the feminine (i.e., lack of sexual shame) honor codes. The extent of honor’s influences on our emotions testifies to its centrality in our lives and our relationships. We need no reminder of what Publilius Syrus wrote in 100 BC: What is left when honor is lost?

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