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Event Series Event Series: Conference

Campfire Talk: Why John Wayne Works: Social Engineering in the Wild Wild West – Todd Wedel

October 20, 2023 @ 11:20 am 11:35 am MDT

Social psychologists have examined the relationship between regional attitudes and actions regarding perceived or actual insult and aggression. The results demonstrate that among those born, raised, or living for extended times in the South and certain sections of the West (including the “old West”), there exists a “culture of honor” which prizes certain values regarding strength and certain masculine traits.

In social engineering engagements, especially physical, the culture of honor values play a significant role if the participants are in or have a background in a culture of honor. This talk will focus primarily on assertiveness and escalation avoidance.

In cultures of honor, violence is always the possible outcome of any male conflict. It is not sufficient to “respond in kind” to an affront. An escalated response is required to demonstrate male dominance. Conversely, dispositions of respect, deference, and politeness are means of avoiding affront and escalation.

For the social engineer, understanding these dynamics can aid in intentional postures and actions. Some situations may require more direct assertiveness as a means of demonstrating dominance. Others may require a diminished assertiveness and politeness to avoid escalation.

The topics covered in this talk will focus on specific situations and actions regarding the following categories:

• Precipitating Aggression and Aggression Avoidance

• Politeness as Deterrent

• Male and Female Roles and Relationships

• Body Size as a Value

This talk will be interactive, especially as participants will likely vary in their background and experience in cultures of honor.

Todd Wedel headshot
Todd Wedel

Todd Wedel has spent most of his career in education with a focus on
studying and teaching how our culture influences us in subconscious ways and how those can be
utilized to affect thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. More recently, he works at Director of Communications and Technical Writer at Alias, an Oklahoma-based cybersecurity firm, ensuring clarity and consistency in communication and as the primary report writer and conductor of phishing