So that’s what they mean by “War of Northern Aggression.”

By tspears
Wed, Oct 7 2009

Do young men from the Deep South have a different personality? Prone to rebel, or to react to northern aggression, for instance? To defend their honour like Ashley Wilkes?

This is actual research, from an actual scientific source, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. It was done in 1996, but you can still find it floating around Pub Med, a website that carries vast amounts of medical research.

I’m going to let the authors tell it themselves, through their abstract. A couple of footnotes first:

1. Cortisol is a hormone in the blood that generally shows stress.

2. They use the word "confederate" in the sense of "someone helping the researcher". Perhaps they could have found a better word, given the context.

Insult, aggression, and the southern culture of honor: an experimental ethnography.

Three experiments examined how norms characteristic of a "culture of honor" manifest themselves in the cognitions, emotions, behaviors, and physiological reactions of southern White males. Participants were University of Michigan students who grew up in the North or South. In 3 experiments they were insulted by a confederate who bumped into the participant and called him an "a******". Compared with northerners – who were relatively unaffected by the insult – southerners were (a) more likely to think their masculine reputation was threatened, (b) more upset (as shown by a rise in cortisol levels), (c) more physiologically primed for aggression (as shown by a rise in testosterone levels), (d) more cognitively primed for aggression, and (e) more likely to engage in aggressive and dominant behavior.

And that’s it. Personally, I blame those bumper stickers that say "Lee surrendered; I didn’t."

© 2008 – 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.

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