Paul Robinson

Sword of honour

Paul Robinson on the ancient code of insult and revenge that is still prevalent in the American South

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If you are looking for some fun, and have a research grant to spend, try this. Visit an American university, bump into random students in the corridor and loudly call each one 'asshole'. Then measure their reactions. This is what a team of psychologists did in a controlled experiment at the University of Michigan. The results were most interesting. Students from the southern part of the United States reacted far more violently and aggressively than those from the North, were shown to have much higher levels of cortisone and testosterone, and in tests regularly suggested more belligerent solutions to problems. America, it seems, remains culturally divided along the Mason