Low-Status Compensation: A Theory for Understanding the Role of Status in Cultures of Honor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The mechanisms that link herding regions to cultures of honor have never been empirically tested. The objective of the present article is to show the important role that issues of status play in linking herding regions to cultures of honor using the theory of low-status compensation (P. J. Henry, 2008b) as a framework. Four studies are presented. Study 1 replicates the finding that counties in the American South conducive to herding have higher murder rates than do counties conducive to farming but shows those differences are mediated by indicators of status disparities in a county. Study 2 replicates the findings of Study 1 with an international sample of 92 countries. Study 3 tests the theoretical idea that people who are low in socioeconomic status face stigma in society and show self-defensive strategies generally. Finally, Study 4 provides experimental evidence that low-status tendencies toward aggressing in the face of insults may be due to strategies to protect their sense of social worth. The results are contextualized within the theory of low-status compensation as a theory for understanding the role status plays in predicting some forms of violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-466
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009



  • aggression
  • culture of honor
  • low-status compensation
  • status
  • stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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