EconTalk — Sebastian Junger

On: Tribe.

Episode: N/A

Date: December 2018

Background: Journalist, author of “Tribe“.

Key Subjects:

  • Humans need to be needed:
    • Autonomy / control.
    • Respect.
    • Good relations with their community.
  • Self-interest versus social animal:
    • The worse the circumstances, the more your survival depends on the group – becomes adaptive to be pro-social.
    • No crisis: revert back to competition and pursuing own interests – becomes adaptive to be focused on self-interest.
    • Both behaviors contribute to well-being.
    • Hunter-gatherer = ongoing low-level crisis (toggle back and forth between group and own interests).
    • Modern society = mostly no crisis, mostly self-interest.
    • Group norms change to reflect this (rewarding and punishing the appropriate group behavior – pursuing your own or the group’s interests).
  • Things are more meaningful in crisis / combat:
    • Shared goals.
    • [Coherence of actions and goals – not discussed, constant feedback, ie you are surviving].
    • Disappears when crisis is over.
  • Tribalism:
    • Part of human nature.
    • Missing: crisis driven group mentality, smaller more cohesive groups.
    • Searching for it elsewhere (politics, sports).

Key Takeaways:

Worth Listening:


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