Reputations are an essential feature of human sociality and the evolution of cooperation and group living. Much scholarship has focused on reputations, yet typically on a narrow range of domains (e.g. prosociality and aggressiveness), usually in isolation. Humans can develop reputations, however, from any collective information. We conducted exploratory analyses on the content, distribution and structure of reputation domain diversity across cultures, using the Human Relations Area Files ethnographic database. After coding ethnographic texts on reputations from 153 cultures, we used hierarchical modelling, cluster analysis and text analysis to provide an empirical view of reputation domains across societies. Findings suggest: (i) reputational domains vary cross-culturally, yet reputations for cultural conformity, prosociality, social status and neural capital are widespread; (ii) reputation domains are more variable for males than females; and (iii) particular reputation domains are interrelated, demonstrating a structure consistent with dimensions of human uniqueness. We label these features: cultural group unity, dominance, neural capital, sexuality, social and material success and supernatural healing. We highlight the need for future research on the evolution of cooperation and human sociality to consider a wider range of reputation domains, as well as their social, ecological and gender-specific variability.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol. 376, n. 1838, November 2021