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

See all articles by Joshua Jackson

Joshua Jackson

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

David G. Rand

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Kevin Lewis

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Division of Social Sciences

Michael I. Norton

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit

Kurt Gray

Independent

Date Written: December 5, 2016

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Jackson, Joshua and Rand, David G. and Lewis, Kevin and Norton, Michael I. and Gray, Kurt, Agent Based Modeling: A Guide for Social Psychologists (December 5, 2016). Social Psychology and Personality Science (Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2880587

Joshua Jackson (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill ( email )

102 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC NC 27514
United States

David G. Rand

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.daverand.org

Kevin Lewis

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Division of Social Sciences ( email )

United States

Michael I. Norton

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Kurt Gray

Independent

No Address Available

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