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Relationships, needs, and motives in social capital theories

Exploring Social Capital Podcast
Exploring Social Capital Podcast
Relationships, needs, and motives in social capital theories
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Ep 13. This episode explores how relationships significantly influence human behavior and decision-making, particularly within economic contexts. Lindon Robison shares insights from his research on farmland markets, highlighting that the price people are willing to sell their land for varies greatly depending on their relationship with the buyer. For instance, landowners often offer substantial discounts to family members but demand higher prices from those they dislike.

The conversation delves into the concept of social capital, emphasizing that human actions are driven by a variety of motives beyond mere self-interest. These include physical needs (commodities) and social-emotional needs (internal and external validation, belonging, altruism). Lindon explains that social capital is crucial for producing relational goods that satisfy these social-emotional needs, much like physical capital is used to produce commodities.

Tristan and Lindon discuss how traditional economic models often overlook the complexity of human motives, focusing solely on self-interest. They argue that understanding social capital requires recognizing that relationships alter our motives and actions. Relationships lead to prosocial behaviors, where individuals act in ways that consider the well-being of others, not just their own.

The episode also touches on the need for a broader definition of self-interest, one that includes the well-being of others, and the importance of understanding the processes and mechanisms that create prosocial outcomes. The conversation concludes by reiterating the significance of relationships in shaping human behavior and the necessity of incorporating these insights into social capital theory to better understand and influence societal outcomes.

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