Behavioral and Neurobehavioral Features of "Sociality"
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Standard models of decision making fail to explain the nature of the various important observed patterns of human behavior, e.g. "economic irrationality," demand for "sociality," risk tolerance and the preference of egalitarian outcomes. Moreover, the majority of models does not account for the change in the strategies of the human beings playing with other human beings as opposed to playing against a machine. This dissertation analyzes decision making and its peculiar characteristics in the social environment under conditions of risk and uncertainty. My main goal is to investigate why human beings behave differently in a social setting and how the social domain affects their decision-making process. I develop the theory of "sociality" and exploit experimental and brain-imaging methodologies to test and refine the competing theories of individual decision making in the context of the social setting. To explain my theory I propose an economic utility function for a risk facing decision-maker that accounts for existing theories of utility defined on the outcomes and simply adds another term to account for the decision-making process in the social environment. For the purposes of my dissertation I define "sociality" as the economic component of the utility function that accounts for social environment, a function of a process rather than of an outcome. I follow on the breakthrough work by evolutionary psychologists in emphasizing the importance of the substantive context of the social decisions. The model I propose allows one to think about situations in which individuals may care for more than their narrowly-defined material interest and their decision may be driven by "sociality" and other non-monetary considerations. The "sociality" component of the economic utility function demonstrates the fact that individuals do not only care about outcomes but also about the processes which lead to these outcomes. In my empirical chapters I put the theory to the test in a series of laboratory experiments carried out in the United States, New Zealand and Russia and a series of fMRI and computer experiments executed at the University of Oregon.