The reason I do this is that modeling human behavior is not as simple as it sounds. This is because, humans do not just make random decisions, but base their actions upon their knowledge and their abilities. Moreover, it might be nice to think that human behavior is rationale but this is not always the case, decisions can also be based on emotions (e.g. interest, happiness anger, and fear; see Izard, 2007). Moreover, emotions can influence ones decision making by altering our perceptions about the environment and future evaluations (Loewenstein and Lerner, 2003). The question therefore is how do we model human behavior? Over the last decade, one of the dominant ways of modeling human behavior in its many shapes and forms is through agent-based modeling (ABM). ABM allows us to focus on individuals or groups of individuals and give them diverse knowledge and abilities which is not possible in other modeling methodologies (see Crooks and Heppenstall, 2012). This is possible through the unique properties one can endow upon the agents (e.g. people) within such models (see Wooldridge and Jennings, 1995; Franklin and Graesser, 1996; Castle and Crooks, 2006). These properties include:
- Autonomy: In sense that we can model individual autonomous units which are not centrally governed. Through this property agents are able to process and exchange information with other agents in order to make independent decisions.
- Heterogeneity: Through using autonomous agents the notion of the average individual is redundant. Each agent can have their own properties and it’s these unique properties of individuals that cause more aggregate phenomena to develop.
- Activity: As agents are autonomous individuals with heterogeneous properties, they can exert active independent influence within a simulation. There are several ways agents can do this from being proactive (goal directed) for example trying to solve a specific problem. Or they can be reactive, in the sense agents can be designed to perceive their surroundings and given prior knowledge based on experiences (e.g. learning) or observation and take actions accordingly.
|Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Source: Wikipedia)|
|Determining the strongest motive before planing an action (Source: Malleson, 2012).|
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