Within the ideology of masculine honor, in order to protect themselves, their family, their property, and their reputation, men are expected to respond aggressively to threats or insults. It is essential to uphold a strong reputation and avoid potential threats within this culture of honor. To do so, aggressive retaliation is justified and even condoned. Previous research has investigated how these beliefs relate to perceptions of bullying. Men who experienced bullying in childhood tend to adhere to masculine gender norms and express interest in protecting their masculinity. Moreover, researchers have shown that those higher in masculine honor beliefs have reported more acceptance and positive perceptions of aggressive retaliation to bullies and more positive perceptions of bullies. Unfortunately, by encouraging bullying, aggressive responses to bullying, and adherence to masculine gender norms in adulthood, a cyclical pattern of aggression is presented that is socialized through generations. In this study, we will examine the role that empathy plays in this aggression cycle with a vignette displaying a bullying situation and surveys collecting participants' expectations and perceptions of the bully victim. Empathy is a potential mechanism that can inhibit aggression and encourage prosocial behavior. Thus, we will explore the relationship between masculine honor beliefs and empathy for bully victims in predicting perceptions of expected behavior in response to bullying. Prior researchers have concluded relationships between empathy and bullying such that adolescents who help bully victims tend to have higher levels of empathy. Additionally, proactive aggression and bullying are related to lower levels of empathy. Extending this research, we hypothesize that empathy will interact with masculine honor beliefs such that those higher in masculine honor beliefs will be less in favor of bully victims seeking help (mental health, teachers, parents, etc.) and greater encouragement of responding aggressively to their bully in order to protect their masculinity, reputation, etc. Further, we predict that masculine honor beliefs will interact with self-reported empathy levels such that these relationships will be especially true for those individuals lower in empathy. Within the topic of masculine honor, it is important to recognize the extent to which empathy plays a role in analyzing the expectations of bully victims in order to understand the complexity of this ideology.
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