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

Aurelio José Figueredo, Victor Corral-Verdugo, Martha Frias-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 languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)295-328
Number of pages34
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to thank all our undergraduate and graduate research assistants in Spain, Mexico, and the United States, who have been too numerous to list here, but without which this research would not have been possible. We also thank the Hermosillo Asociación de Mujeres Profesionistas y de Negocios, the Centro Integral de Attención para Mujeres, the Bufete Jurı́dico de la Escuela de Derecho de UNISON, and the Alberto Gutierrez and Cruz Galvez schools, for their cooperation in referring us to parents of learning disabled and conduct disordered children for our interviews. Portions of this research were partially funded by a Minority International Research Training (MIRT) Grant (TW00036) from the National Institutes of Health/Fogarty International Center to the University of Arizona, a Foreign Travel Grant from the Office of International Programs of the University of Arizona, and a Small Grant from the Office of the Vice President for Research of the University of Arizona Foundation. We also thank José Antonio Corraliza, Marı́a Ángeles Gilmartin de Castro, Marı́a del Carmen Valiente-Ots, and Patricia Villavicencio-Carrillo for hosting and helping our team during the Madrid Pilot Study at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in the summer of 1995. We especially want to thank David Buss, Leda Cosmides, Charles Crawford, Denise Cummins, Martin Daly, Steve Gangestad, William James Jacobs, Mary Koss, Neil Malamuth, Lewis Petrinovich, David Rowe, Rebecca Sage, Randy Thornhill, John Tooby, and Margo Wilson for their invaluable conversation, constructive criticism, and encouragement of this research program over the years.


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

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