Character Project

by on December 11, 2012

As a subsidiary of the interdisciplinary Character Project funded by the John Templeton Foundation, this project creates a unique and exciting blend of theoretical and empirical work, discipline-specific and interdisciplinary thinking, exploratory and confirmatory strategies, and correlational and experimental studies on the nature of Character. If you are interested in the other aspects of the Character Project, please visit the general website at

The research at Wake Forest is focusing on three main areas: 1) consistency of character, its internal causal structure, and its relationship to Personality in general,  2) the role of virtue in self- and other-knowledge, and 3) the role of identity emulation in virtuous behavior. 

Although there have been several studies that establish the consistency of personality in general, there is currently some debate over the consistency (or even existence of) moral traits. This research hopes to demonstrate that there are moral character traits and they are indeed stable and predictable. 

This project will also attempt to determine whether the virtuous lens through which we view ourselves is the same lens that other people use when they see us–that is, if I generally see myself as an altruistic and honest person, do the people around me also see me as altruistic and honest?

Thirdly, we attempt to determine the role that emulation of ideal others plays in virtuous behavior. We hypothesize that individuals have a personal internal paragon that they wish to emulate. This person can be a real-life political or religious figure, celebrity, or simply their interpretation of the archetypical “good X.” As people are presented with opportunities to be virtuous, they consult their representation of their paragons and choose the behavior that they believe most typifies that paragon. 

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