Farmers, herders, and fishers. The ecology of revenge

Aurelio José Figueredo, Ilanit Robin Tal, Prentiss McNeil, Alfonso Guillén

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Culture of honor (COH) theory [Nisbett, R. E., & Cohen, D. (1996). Culture of honor: The psychology of violence in the south. Boulder, CO: Westview Press] predicts that the importance of upholding one's reputation is cross-culturally variable: Revenge should be more prevalent in herding societies than in farming societies, and should be entirely absent in foraging societies. This study was designed to replicate the effects that they found among herding and farming societies and to either support or refute the claim regarding foraging societies. Using a 32-item questionnaire measuring the constructs of Reciprocity and Revenge, this study cross-culturally validates Nisbett and Cohen's COH theory and extends it to fishers, a special kind of forager. Researchers sampled two herding communities (Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, and Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica), two farming communities (Mexico City, Mexico, and San Jose, Costa Rica), and two fishing communities (La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, and Puntarenas, Costa Rica.) The differences between the herding and farming samples replicated previous findings in that herders were higher on the Revenge scale than farmers. The fisher samples approximate the herder samples on the Revenge scale more than the farmer samples, but were significantly different from each other. Discrepancies between the fisher samples called for the investigation of alternative theories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-353
Number of pages18
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • Behavioral ecology farmers
  • Cultural evolution theory
  • Culture of honor
  • Fishers
  • Herders
  • Reciprocity
  • Revenge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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