Computational Model Library

Schelling famously proposed an extremely simple but highly illustrative social mechanism to understand how strong ethnic segregation could arise in a world where individuals do not necessarily want it. Schelling’s simple computational model is the starting point for our extensions in which we build upon Wilensky’s original NetLogo implementation of this model. Our two NetLogo models can be best studied while reading our chapter “Agent-based Computational Models” (Flache and de Matos Fernandes, 2021 [forthcoming]). In the chapter, we propose 10 best practices to elucidate how agent-based models are a unique method for providing and analyzing formally precise, and empirically plausible mechanistic explanations of puzzling social phenomena, such as segregation, in the social world. Our chapter addresses in particular analytical sociologists who are new to ABMs.

In the first model (SegregationExtended), we build on Wilensky’s implementation of Schelling’s model which is available in NetLogo library (Wilensky, 1997). We considerably extend this model, allowing in particular to include larger neighborhoods and a population with four groups roughly resembling the ethnic composition of a contemporary large U.S. city. Further features added concern the possibility to include random noise, and the addition of a number of new outcome measures tuned to highlight macro-level implications of the segregation dynamics for different groups in the agent society.

In SegregationDiscreteChoice, we further modify the model incorporating in particular three new features: 1) heterogeneous preferences roughly based on empirical research categorizing agents into low, medium, and highly tolerant within each of the ethnic subgroups of the population, 2) we drop global thresholds (%-similar-wanted) and introduce instead a continuous individual-level single-peaked preference function for agents’ ideal neighborhood composition, and 3) we use a discrete choice model according to which agents probabilistically decide whether to move to a vacant spot or stay in the current spot by comparing the attractiveness of both locations based on the individual preference functions.

Schelling and Sakoda prominently proposed computational models suggesting that strong ethnic residential segregation can be the unintended outcome of a self-reinforcing dynamic driven by choices of individuals with rather tolerant ethnic preferences. There are only few attempts to apply this view to school choice, another important arena in which ethnic segregation occurs. In the current paper, we explore with an agent-based theoretical model similar to those proposed for residential segregation, how ethnic tolerance among parents can affect the level of school segregation. More specifically, we ask whether and under which conditions school segregation could be reduced if more parents hold tolerant ethnic preferences. We move beyond earlier models of school segregation in three ways. First, we model individual school choices using a random utility discrete choice approach. Second, we vary the pattern of ethnic segregation in the residential context of school choices systematically, comparing residential maps in which segregation is unrelated to parents’ level of tolerance to residential maps reflecting their ethnic preferences. Third, we introduce heterogeneity in tolerance levels among parents belonging to the same group. Our simulation experiments suggest that ethnic school segregation can be a very robust phenomenon, occurring even when about half of the population prefers mixed to segregated schools. However, we also identify a “sweet spot” in the parameter space in which a larger proportion of tolerant parents makes the biggest difference. This is the case when parents have moderate preferences for nearby schools and there is only little residential segregation. Further experiments are presented that unravel the underlying mechanisms.

Peer reviewed A Model of Global Diversity and Local Consensus in Status Beliefs

André Grow Andreas Flache Rafael Wittek | Published Wed Mar 1 18:03:05 2017 | Last modified Wed Oct 25 11:16:27 2017

This model makes it possible to explore how network clustering and resistance to changing existing status beliefs might affect the spontaneous emergence and diffusion of such beliefs as described by status construction theory.

“Food for all” (FFD)

José Santos José Manuel Galán Andreas Angourakis Andrea L Balbo | Published Fri Apr 25 09:39:34 2014 | Last modified Mon Apr 8 20:39:22 2019

“Food for all” (FFD) is an agent-based model designed to study the evolution of cooperation for food storage. Households face the social dilemma of whether to store food in a corporate stock or to keep it in a private stock.

Peer reviewed Modelling the Social Complexity of Reputation and Status Dynamics

André Grow Andreas Flache | Published Wed Feb 1 19:23:32 2017 | Last modified Wed Jan 23 16:46:42 2019

The purpose of this model is to illustrate the use of agent-based computational modelling in the study of the emergence of reputation and status beliefs in a population.

Simulation of the Governance of Complex Systems

Fabian Adelt Johannes Weyer Robin D Fink Andreas Ihrig | Published Mon Dec 18 16:11:30 2017 | Last modified Fri Mar 2 09:37:16 2018

Simulation-Framework to study the governance of complex, network-like sociotechnical systems by means of ABM. Agents’ behaviour is based on a sociological model of action. A set of basic governance mechanisms helps to conduct first experiments.

This is a tool to explore the effects of groups´ spatial segregation on the emergence of opinion polarization. It embeds two opinion formation models: a model of negative (and positive) social influence and a model of persuasive argument exchange.

Nice Musical Chairs

Andreas Angourakis | Published Fri Feb 5 17:23:29 2016 | Last modified Fri Nov 17 10:20:29 2017

The Nice Musical Chairs (NMC) model represent the competition for space between groups of stakeholders of farming and herding activities in the arid Afro-Eurasia.

This model simulates networking mechanisms of an empirical social network. It correlates event determinants with place-based geography and social capital production.

Socio-spatial segregation in Salzburg, Austria

Andreas Koch | Published Fri Sep 25 06:37:44 2009 | Last modified Sat Apr 27 20:18:48 2013

This is a first preliminary simulation model to model segregation in the city of Salzburg, Austria.

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