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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2012 Mar 5;367(1589):680-91. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0264.

Identity economics and the brain: uncovering the mechanisms of social conflict.

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  • 1Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA. scott.huettel@duke.edu


Social contexts can have dramatic effects on decisions. When individuals recognize each other as coming from the same social group, they can coordinate their actions towards a common goal. Conversely, information about group differences can lead to conflicts both economic and physical. Understanding how social information shapes decision processes is now a core goal both of behavioural economics and neuroeconomics. Here, we describe the foundations for research that combines the theoretical framework from identity economics with the experimental methods of neuroscience. Research at this intersection would fill important gaps in the literature not addressed by current approaches in either of these disciplines, nor within social neuroscience, psychology or other fields. We set forth a simple taxonomy of social contexts based on the information content they provide. And, we highlight the key questions that would be addressed by a new 'identity neuroeconomics'. Such research could serve as an important and novel link between the social and natural sciences.

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