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On the nature, modeling, and neural bases of social ties.

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  • 1CREED, Department of Economics, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

This chapter addresses the nature, formalization, and neural bases of (affective) social ties and discusses the relevance of ties for health economics. A social tie is defined as an affective weight attached by an individual to the well-being of another individual ('utility interdependence'). Ties can be positive or negative, and symmetric or asymmetric between individuals. Characteristic of a social tie, as conceived of here, is that it develops over time under the influence of interaction, in contrast with a trait like altruism. Moreover, a tie is not related to strategic behavior such as reputation formation but seen as generated by affective responses.

METHODOLOGY/APPROACH:

A formalization is presented together with some supportive evidence from behavioral experiments. This is followed by a discussion of related psychological constructs and the presentation of suggestive existing neural findings. To help prepare the grounds for a model-based neural analysis some speculations on the neural networks involved are provided, together with suggestions for future research.

FINDINGS:

Social ties are not only found to be important from an economic viewpoint, it is also shown that they can be modeled and related to neural substrates.

ORIGINALITY/VALUE OF THE CHAPTER:

By providing an overview of the economic research on social ties and connecting it with the broader behavioral and neuroeconomics literature, the chapter may contribute to the development of a neuroeconomics of social ties.

PMID:
19552307
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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