Boulding’s Psychic Capital: The Linking of Individual and Collective Identities

William Walter Bostock
(Submitted 27 March 2020)
(Published 2 December 2021)


The purpose of this article is to establish that Kenneth E. Boulding, an economist whose work also encompassed many other disciplines, provided a valuable insight within the study of psychology. Boulding observed that while in an economic unit there is a store of financial capital which is necessary for continued existence, also in human nature there is a need for a reserve of psychic capital that is vital for the mental health of the individual and society. Psychic capital does this by providing a link consisting of positive feelings shared between the individual and the larger grouping. Boulding proposed that a coherent body of thoughts, memories, and emotions may be shared between individual and collective minds as shared psychic capital. Finally, some present-day examples are given whereby the consequences of a loss of psychic capital have been observed with particular emphasis on collective depression and suicide.


depression; identity; psychic capital; social alienation

Full Text: PDF

DOI: 10.22146/buletinpsikologi.55083


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, (5th ed.)
Antonovsky, A. (1980). Health, stress and coping. Jossey-Bass.

Antonovsky, A. (1987). Unravelling the mystery of health. How people manage stress and stay well. Jossey-Bass.

Artizona, I. D., Berce, D. R., Lupio, R. J., & Ortiz, C. J. (2019). The phenomenological study of persons deprived of liberty suspected to be suffering from depression: The biopsychosocial coping mechanism. Journal of Social Health, 2(2), 69–81.

Bostock, W. W., & Smith, G. W. (2001). On measuring national identity. Social Science Paper Publisher, 4(1), 1–6.

Bostock, W. W. (2002). Collective mental state and individual agency: Qualitative factors in social science explanation. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 3(3).

Boulding, K. E. (1950). A reconstruction of economics. Wiley and London, England: Chapman and Hall.

Boulding, K. E. (1966). The economics of the coming spaceship earth.

Brewster Smith, M. (1985). The metaphorical basis of selfhood. In A. J. Marsella, G. De Vos, & F. L. K. Hsu (Eds.), Culture and self: Asian and western perspectives. Tavistock.

Côté, J. E. (1996). Sociological perspectives on identity formation: The culture–identity link and identity capital. Journal of Adolescence, 19, 417–28.

Durkheim, E., (1964). The rules of sociological method. Free Press.

Eriksson, M., & Lindström, B. (2006). Antonovsky’s sense of coherence scale and the relation with health: A systematic review. Journal of epidemiology & community health, 60(5), 376–381.

Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity, Psychosocial. In D. R. Sills (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. (Vol. 7, pp. 61–65). Macmillan and Free Press.

Estellita-Lins, C., Moreno, A. B., Miranda, V., & Neto, H. R. (2015). About field notes and art: Santa Claus’ suicide. World Cultural Psychiatry Research Review, 10, 298–310.

Faturochman, (1999). Collective behaviour and intergroup aggression. Buletin Psikologi, 7(2), 1–6.

Fauziyyah, A., & Ampuni, S. (2018). Depression tendencies, social skills, and loneliness among college students in Yogyakarta. Jurnal Psikologi, 45(2). 98–106.

Freud, S. (1955). Beyond the pleasure principle. In J. Strachey (Ed. And Trans.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud. (Vol. 18, pp. 1–64). The Hogarth Press. (Original work published 1920)

Halbwachs, M. (1992). On collective memory. University of Chicago Press.

Horváth, S. (2000). The psychic and material wealth of nations. Társadalom és gazdaság Közép-és Kelet-Európában/Society and Economy in Central and Eastern Europe, 22(4), 83–94.

Huber, F. (2019). Promise me you’ll shoot yourself: The mass suicide of ordinary Germans in 1945. Text Publishing.

Huebner, B. (2011). Genuinely collective emotions. European Journal for Philosophy of Science, 1(1), 89–118.

Kesner, L. (2018). Mental ill-health and the epidemiology of representations. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 9(289), 1–6.

Le Bon, G, (2008). The crowd: A study of the popular mind. Sparkling Books.

Macken, J. (2019). The melancholic torturer: How Australia became a nation that tortures refugees. Journal of Sociology, 56(1) 9–22.

Puri, B. K., Laking, P. J., & Treasaden, I. H. (1996). Textbook of psychiatry. Churchill Livingstone.

Ray, D., Roy, D., Sindhu, B., Sharan, P., & Banerjee, A. (2017). Neural substrate of group mental health: Insights from multi-brain reference frame in functional neuroimaging. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1627.

Reber, A. S. (1995). The Penguin dictionary of psychology (2nd ed.). Penguin.

Szanto, T. (2014). How to share a mind: Reconsidering the group mind thesis. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 13(1), 99–120.

Tajfel, H., Turner, J. C., Austin, W. G., & Worchel, S. (1979). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. In M. J. Hatch & M. Schultz (Eds.), Organizational identity: A reader (pp. 56–65). Oxford University Press

Tollefsen, D. P. (2006). From extended mind to collective mind. Cognitive systems research, 7(2-3), 140–150.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2021 Buletin Psikologi

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.