The Concept of Honor

The concept of honor was central to many cultures of the past and served to build and protect reputation, assert a position in society. Duels, chivalry, and honor killings, which were characteristic of a specific historical period, are particular examples of such application of the concept (Novin and Oyserman 2). However, the idea has both social and personal meaning; for instance, Atari defines honor as “self-worth based on an individual’s reputation and also his assessment of what others think” (1). Thus, a man of honor in culture is seen as someone who can stand up for himself and respond to insults against himself, his family, or other significant for him groups. Honor is an abstract measure of a person’s noble qualities, such as honesty, selflessness, and compassion. Although the concept is a historical construct, it is of great importance in the modern world. The essay provides an expanded definition of the concept of honor and examines its impact on modern people’s lives.

Honor is a cultural way of thinking that ensured survival in past societies. Most often, the concept is associated with the culture of honor, where a person is able to respond with violence to those insulting them or their family. This concept arose primarily due to the need to create a reputation for a strong and tough man who can provide safety and protection (Atari 1). Thus, the concept of honor includes both an internal assessment of actions’ morality and an external assessment of a reputation. However, today the concept is often replaced by the idea of ​​conscience, in accordance with which a person commits specific actions (Wu). In my opinion, the concept of conscience cannot fully replace honor because it is an integral part of a more complex image of human behavior, which includes various moral guidelines.

The problem of conscience is that concepts about it are often influenced; they are formed based on a socially acceptable norm of a given time. On the contrary, honor is some collection of all values ​​of both the individual and society, which were acquired by a person throughout their life. Even though honor is also taught by gender and social norms, it implies loyalty to oneself and one’s beliefs formed in a person (Novin and Oyserman 2). Honor is of great importance for building a person’s reputation, and, as a result, for determining a long-term attitude towards them in society. Conscientious people can be kind and pleasant; however, they can retreat in difficult times, not stand up for themselves and their interests, which will damage their reputation.

It may seem that such a concept has no defining meaning in the context of modern society. However, the reputation formed depending on the honor of a person determines their position in society, the nature of social interactions. Sometimes, honor can provoke aggressive behavior to protect the interests. However, in my opinion, this is how the inner strength of a person is manifested, their willingness to oppose their opinion to the opinion of the majority. In the long run, this behavior will be more highly appreciated by society than the desire to please someone in a particular situation. Undoubtedly, a man of honor also evaluates the situation based on moral principles and is not ashamed to show compassion and kindness to other people, which makes them even stronger in the public’s eyes. Thus, the leading indicators of honor are the presence of specific personal guidelines, an internal moral compass not influenced by social trends, as well as the courage to defend one’s point of view.

Works Cited

Atari, Mohammad. “Culture of Honor.” Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences, edited by Virgil Zeigler-Hill and Todd K. Shackelford, Springer, 2018, pp. 1-4.

Novin, Sheida, and Oyserman, Daphna. “Honor as Cultural Mindset: Activated Honor Mindset Affects Subsequent Judgment and Attention in Mindset-Congruent Ways.” Frontiers of Psychology, vol. 7, 2016, pp. 1-14.

Wu, Po Chi. “What Has Happened to the Concept of Honor?” Psychology Today, 2018, Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "The Concept of Honor." January 31, 2022.