A New View of UtilityMaximizing "Optimal Investment"

Dylan M. Smith, Stephanie L. Brown, Mary L. Rigdon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this brief essay, we review benefits of the caregiving system for health and well-being, and argue that these benefits are not reflected in economic models of how to maximize utility. We then describe how the caregiving system highlights the tension between appetitive motives versus maintaining deeper relationships, a sense of purpose, meaning, etc, and point out how this tension is reflected in existing debates within economics. We discuss how new discoveries about the caregiving system can be used to inform these debates, and conclude with a discussion of some potential practical implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMoving Beyond Self-Interest
Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives from Evolutionary Biology, Neuroscience, and the Social Sciences
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199918386
ISBN (Print)9780195388107
StatePublished - Jan 19 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Appetitive motives
  • Caregiving
  • Caregiving system
  • Economics
  • Motivation
  • Relationships
  • Utility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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