The people of Dobu were the subject of a seminal anthropological study by Reo Fortune. He described the Dobuan character as "paranoid", obsessed with black magic, and as having extremely unusual attitudes toward sex and violence.
Fortune's account was reiterated by Ruth Benedict in her popular work Patterns of Culture. However, many later anthropologists expressed skepticism.
Fortune's analysis was significantly challenged by Susanne Kuehling in her 2005 title Dobu: Ethics of Exchange on a Massim Island, Papua New Guinea. In particular, Kuehling's interest lies at the intersection of ethics and personal conduct.