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A New Unified Theory of Sociobehavioral Forces


  • Jasso, Guillermina

    () (New York University)


This paper proposes a new unified theory of sociobehavioral forces. The goal of the new theory is to integrate theories describing five sociobehavioral processes – comparison (including justice and self-esteem), status, power, identity, and happiness – bringing under a single theoretical umbrella diverse mechanisms together with their effects across disparate domains and for both individuals and societies. The integration is made possible by the remarkable similarity of the internal core of the theories, a core comprised of three elements: personal quantitative characteristics, personal qualitative characteristics, and primordial sociobehavioral outcomes. The unified theory posits the operation of three sociobehavioral forces – comparison, status, and power – each associated with a distinctive mechanism, in particular, a distinctive rate of change of the outcome with respect to the quantitative characteristic. Each combination of elements – e.g., status-wealth-city – generates a distinctive identity and a distinctive magnitude of happiness. Thus, the theory enables systematic and parsimonious analysis of both individuals and societies via the distinctive configurations of elements. To illustrate the unified theory, we analyze the three-way contest between loyalty to self, subgroup, and group in a two-subgroup society, deriving many new testable predictions, for example, that the bottom subgroup will have difficulty mobilizing itself, that the ablest individuals in a society will not make good leaders as their first loyalty is to self, and that the proportions loyal to self, subgroup, and group differ sharply, depending on the sociobehavioral forces, valued goods, and subgroup size. Finally, the theory provides a foundation for making explicit connections among the most important themes and insights of contemporary social science, including inequality, oppositional culture, group boundary permeability, social inclusion and exclusion, segregation and integration, social distance and polarization, and bonding and bridging.

Suggested Citation

  • Jasso, Guillermina, 2007. "A New Unified Theory of Sociobehavioral Forces," IZA Discussion Papers 3243, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3243

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Julie L. Hotchkiss, 2005. "Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources?: Further Evidence," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(2).
    2. Lundberg, S.J. & Pollak, R.A. & Wales, T.J., 1994. "Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources? Evidence from U.K. Child Benefit," Working Papers 94-6, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
    3. Ben-Ner, Avner & Kong, Fanmin & Putterman, Louis, 2004. "Share and share alike? Gender-pairing, personality, and cognitive ability as determinants of giving," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 581-589, October.
    4. Koenker,Roger, 2005. "Quantile Regression," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521845731, March.
    5. Bolton, Gary E. & Katok, Elena, 1995. "An experimental test for gender differences in beneficent behavior," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 48(3-4), pages 287-292, June.
    6. Micklewright, John & Schnepf, Sylke V., 2007. "Who Gives for Overseas Development?," IZA Discussion Papers 3057, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    Cited by:

    1. Anabela Carneiro & Natércia Fortuna & José Varejão, 2012. "Immigrants at new destinations: how they fare and why," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 25(3), pages 1165-1185, July.
    2. Jasso, Guillermina, 2008. "Shall We Kill or Enslave Caesar? Analyzing the Caesar Model," IZA Discussion Papers 3460, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    justice; comparison; status; power; identity; happiness; inequality; individualism and collectivism; personal characteristics;

    JEL classification:

    • C02 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General - - - Mathematical Economics
    • C16 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Econometric and Statistical Methods; Specific Distributions
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

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