Week 10 Monday Motivation

Piute County School District,

Many small towns in the Southern United States were settled by herdsmen from the hills of Scotland and Ireland. Historically these herdsmen were, by some necessity, more aggressive than the farmers and other laborers of the day. The herdsmen felt it necessary to be more aggressive in defending their livestock from theft and to protect their grazing territory from the invasion of competitors. This tendency for violent reactions and aggressive demeanors has been called “The Culture of Honor.” The southern states have long been used as an example of this culture. Some of the worst family feuds and violent reactions have taken place in the backwoods of the South.

In the early 1990’s the University of Michigan sought to prove that despite the many changes in culture over the years, the southern “Culture of Honor,” was still a real phenomenon. In a series of experiments they tested university students from the South and from the North on their reactions to being insulted in different ways.

In one experiment participants completed a simple questionnaire and were asked to put it on a table at the end of a narrow hallway. As they walked down the hall a prearranged student would come out of a room and open a filing cabinet drawer. The student would have to close the drawer to allow the participant to go past them. The participant would then drop off the paper and come back. On the way back down the hall, the student with the open drawer (acting upset he had to let the participant past again) would aggressively push the drawer closed, bump shoulders with the passing participant and call them “a**hole.” Two other prearranged students sat on each end of the hall pretending to study, while they actually scored the facial expressions and reactions of the participants as they were insulted.

The results were as predicted, students from the southern culture of honor reacted with more anger and were visibly more upset. Many northern participants were described as being amused rather than upset. Despite these students being many generations removed from herding livestock across the hills of Scotland and Ireland, their culture of protection and aggression persisted. This year we’re striving to create a community culture. It’s hard to imagine any place for anger in this culture.

In our classrooms and schools we try to create a culture of hard work and kindness. I’m sure many of the participants of the study felt awkward or silly after realizing the real purpose of the study. The longer I live the more difficult it is to think of a situation that justifies anger. We can always be kind. We have so many good examples of kindness in our schools. Thank you for leading the way.

Community culture of kindness in Week 10,


Link to the full study called “Insult, Aggression, and the Southern Culture of Honor:An "Experimental Ethnography"



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Piute County School District
500 North Main - P.O. Box 69
Junction, Utah 84740-0069
Phone: (435)-577-2912 - Fax: (435)-577-2561
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