Saturday, October 5, 2019

“Sorry, I already have a boyfriend”: Masculine honor beliefs and perceptions of women’s use of deceptive rejection behaviors to avert unwanted romantic advances

“Sorry, I already have a boyfriend”: Masculine honor beliefs and perceptions of women’s use of deceptive rejection behaviors to avert unwanted romantic advances. Evelyn Stratmoen, Emilio D. Rivera, Donald A. Saucier. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, August 7, 2019.

Abstract: We examined the relationships between masculine honor beliefs (MHB) and women’s endorsement of various rejection-related behaviors, as well as both men’s and women’s perceptions of men’s aggressive responses after being romantically rejected by a woman who uses an avoidant/deceptive rejection technique. In Study 1, women with stronger MHB were more likely to endorse their own use of an avoidant/deceptive rejection technique and expressed fewer expectations of men aggressing against them after their overt rejection. In Study 2, men with stronger MHB perceived a woman’s use of deception to reject a man’s unwanted romantic advance as a greater threat to the rejected man’s honor, while women with stronger MHB expressed greater expectations of retaliatory aggression from the rejected man, regardless of the use of deception. These results suggest women who adhere to masculine honor norms may be in a difficult predicament when faced with rejecting men and may choose to mitigate the honor threat to the rejected man by using avoidance/deception to avert his unwanted romantic advance to avoid potential retaliatory aggression.

Keywords: Aggression, avoidant behaviors, masculine honor beliefs, romantic rejection

Masculine honor beliefs

Masculine honor ideology—cultural norms based on the American Southern culture of honor—dictates expectations for men’s behavior, specifically regarding construction and maintenance of their social status and reputation (i.e., their honor) (e.g., Nisbett, 1993; Nisbett & Cohen, 1996; Wyatt-Brown, 1982). Due to the herding lifestyle that was predominant in the American South where families’ livelihoods (i.e., livestock) were easily stolen, men were expected to respond aggressively and even violently to threats to protect their livestock, as well as their property and families (Nisbett, 1993; Nisbett & Cohen, 1996). These aggressive responses not only protected men and their property from current threats, but also helped them develop intimidating reputations, which then deterred future threats. The possibility of men losing their livelihoods coupled with their need to maintain these reputations evolved into masculine honor ideology, where men must respond aggressively to any threat, provocation, or insult to preserve their formidable reputation (i.e., their sense of honor) (e.g., Brown, 2016; Cohen, Nisbett, Bowdle, & Schwarz, 1996; Nisbett, 1993; Vandello & Bosson, 2013).

Men from honor cultures (e.g., American South) compared to men from nonhonor cultures (e.g., American North) respond more aggressively to insults and threats to their honor (e.g., Barnes, Brown, & Osterman, 2012; Cohen & Nisbett, 1997; Cohen, Vandello, & Rantilla, 1998; Rodriguez Mosquera, Manstead, & Fischer, 2002; Saucier & McManus, 2014; Vandello & Cohen, 2008). This has been demonstrated in a wide variety of studies, including those examining attitudes toward “honorable” violence (Cohen & Nisbett, 1994; Saucier, Miller, Martens, O’Dea, & Jones, 2018), school mass shootings (Brown, 2016; Brown, Osterman, & Barnes, 2009), and homicide (Nisbett, Polly, & Lang, 1995). Behavioral experiments further indicate men from honor cultures are more likely to respond aggressively (e.g., emotionally, cognitively, behaviorally, and physiologically) when their honor has been threatened through provocation (e.g., physically bumping a man’s shoulder) and insult (e.g., calling him an “asshole”; Cohen et al., 1996).

Recent research has conceptualized adherence to masculine honor ideology as an individual difference in one’s endorsement of MHB, suggesting men and women from nonhonor cultures may also endorse masculine honor ideology (e.g., Barnes et al., 2012; Saucier & McManus, 2014; Saucier et al., 2016). Influenced by previous honor research, Saucier et al. (2016) developed the Masculine Honor Beliefs Scale (MHBS) to measure seven facets (e.g., pride in manhood and provocation) representing MHB. MHB explain regional differences in honor-related responses to provocation (see Saucier, Miller, et al., 2018). Furthermore, the MHBS has been used to examine relationships between adherence to MHB and various attitudes and perceptions of social behaviors, such as perceptions of the world being a “competitive jungle” (Saucier, Webster, et al., 2018), men’s motivations for muscularity (Saucier, O’Dea, & Stratmoen, 2017), perceptions of slurs against men’s masculinity as insulting and deserving of retaliatory aggression (Saucier, Till, Miller, O’Dea, & Andres, 2015), expectations for men to physically confront honor threats (O’Dea, Chalman, Castro Bueno, & Saucier, 2018), and negative perceptions of those who do not (O’Dea, Bueno, & Saucier, 2017). MHB are associated with various political attitudes, including greater endorsement of agentic male candidates for President of the U.S. (Martens, Stratmoen, & Saucier, 2018), negative perceptions of football players who knelt during the National Anthem to protest police violence against racial minorities (Stratmoen, Lawless, & Saucier, 2018), and greater support for restrictive national security policies and endorsement of war (Saucier, Webster, et al., 2018). Furthermore, MHB are associated with negative perceptions of rape survivors and increased support for punishment for rapists (Saucier, Strain, Hockett, & McManus, 2015), as well as with perceptions of romantic rejection as threatening men’s honor and consequently expecting increased aggression by men toward women who reject their romantic advances (Stratmoen, Greer, Martens, & Saucier, 2018).

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