In paring away what was considered inessential to the economic decision, economists have pared away human flesh leaving only the bone. To revivify and incarnate this skeleton I draw on insights from the social psychology of Deci and Ryan, Dweck, and Bandura to broaden the foundation of utility theory and expand the types of resources individuals have at their disposal, both individually and as part of a group, to effect their wellbeing. These theories recognize that the effects of society on the individual are not always to the good. Their nuanced understanding of the individual in society helps put meat and muscle on economic agents’ bones by placing these agents in society, suggesting how society affects agents and revealing how agents work together to adapt and change society. A model is developed to incorporate some of these features and examples are analyzed. The behavior of the individual that arises is not easily characterized, but its essential, even economic, humanness is.
Wellbeing, utility theory, goals, individual, society, social psychology.
Code JEL: D91.