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Herding and Homicide: An Examination of the Nisbett-Reaves Hypothesis

Rebekah Chu, Craig Rivera and Colin Loftin
Social Forces
Vol. 78, No. 3 (Mar., 2000), pp. 971-987
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/3005938
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3005938
Page Count: 17
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Herding and Homicide: An Examination of the Nisbett-Reaves Hypothesis
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Abstract

Replication of the Nisbett-Reaves test of the herding-culture-of-honor hypothesis fails to support expectations derived from Nisbett's culture-of-honor theory. The theory predicts that violent culture has economic advantage in frontier areas with herding economies, because there is a chronic threat of livestock theft. Nisbett and Reaves hypothesize that rural counties in the South, where ecological conditions promote livestock herding, will have especially high white non-Hispanic male homicide rates. Our statistical analysis reproduces the mean homicide rates reported by previous research, but indicates that they are artifacts of skewed distributions, unreliable estimates of homicide rates, and the failure to control for differences in the distribution of white poverty.

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