Blood, solidarity, status, and honor: The sexual balance of power and spousal abuse in Sonora, Mexico

Aurelio José Figueredo, Victor Corral-Verdugo, Martha Frías-Armenta, Karen J. Bachar, Janine White, Prentiss L. McNeill, Beth R. Kirsner, Irasema Del Pilarcastell-Ruiz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Independent samples of 128 women and 106 men were interviewed in a study site in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. Respondents were screened for involvement in a committed sexual relationship during the past year, but not with each other. Questions pertained to family structure, support, and conflict; females reported on victimization by spousal aggression and males on perpetration. Previously documented effects of their partner's mate quality ("sex") and socioeconomic status ("money") were cross-culturally replicated. The following family structure parameters were also measured: (1) the local density of female kin, (2) the local density of male kin, (3) the social support provided by local kin, (4) the socioeconomic status of close kin, and (5) the "culture of honor" revenge ideology of the respondents. The same interactions of local density of male kin that protected women from spousal abuse also empowered men to perpetrate it. The risk of spousal abuse was mitigated by the "sexual balance of power" between the family structures of potential victims and potential perpetrators. Evidence was also found partially supporting several alternative hypotheses tested regarding local cultural and ideological mechanisms (culture of honor and patriarchal beliefs), major dimensions of psychopathology (anxiety and depression) and substance abuse (alcohol), and indicators of general criminality (permissive and risk-taking attitudes).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-328
Number of pages34
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2001


  • Coercive sexual strategy
  • Culture of honor
  • Domestic violence
  • Extended family structure
  • General criminality
  • Patriarchy
  • Sex-biased dispersal
  • Spousal abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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