Hadza hunter-gatherers disagree on perceptions of moral character

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Description: To the extent that moral character is grounded in stable and observable truths, there should exist agreement between people in their judgements of others’ character. In Western populations, this agreement is found. We examine whether this is universal in Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania. Ninety-four judges ranked their campmates on global character and relevant character traits for a total of 824 observations. Judges disagreed on rankings of global character, generosity, and honesty, but agreed more on hard work and hunting ability. Individual rankings on specific traits predicted character evaluations. There was agreement between judges on the extent to which generosity and hard work related to character. These findings suggest that Hadza have shared beliefs about what traits constitute character, but disagree on which of their campmates exhibit these traits. We discuss these findings in light of other research suggesting that stable moral dispositions may not be universal.


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