Agent Based Modeling: A Guide for Social Psychologists
Social Psychology and Personality Science (Forthcoming)
40 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2016 Last revised: 8 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 5, 2016
Agent-based modeling is a longstanding but under-used method that allows researchers to simulate artificial worlds for hypothesis testing and theory building. Agent-based models (ABMs) offer unprecedented control and statistical power by allowing researchers to precisely specify the behavior of any number of agents and observe their interactions over time. ABMs are especially useful when investigating group behavior or evolutionary processes, and can uniquely reveal non-linear dynamics and emergence — the process whereby local interactions aggregate into often-surprising collective phenomena, such as spatial segregation and relational homophily. We review several illustrative ABMs, describe the strengths and limitations of this method, and address two misconceptions about ABMs: reductionism and “you get out what you put in.” We also offer maxims for good and bad ABMs, give practical tips for beginner modelers, and include a list of resources and other models. We conclude with a 7-step guide to creating your own model.
Keywords: Agent-Based Modeling, Social Psychology, Computational Social Science, Guide, Segregation, Group Formation
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