Computational Model Library

An agent model is presented that aims to capture the impact of cheap talk on collective action in a commons dilemma. The commons dilemma is represented as a spatially explicit renewable resource. Agent’s trust in others impacts the speed and harvesting rate, and trust is impacted by observed harvesting behavior and cheap talk. We calibrated the model using experimental data (DeCaro et al. 2021). The best fit to the data consists of a population with a small frequency of altruistic and selfish agents, and mostly conditional cooperative agents sensitive to inequality and cheap talk. This calibrated model provides an empirical test of the behavioral theory of collective action of Elinor Ostrom and Humanistic Rational Choice Theory.

Cooperation is essential for all domains of life. Yet, ironically, it is intrinsically vulnerable to exploitation by cheats. Hence, an explanatory necessity spurs many evolutionary biologists to search for mechanisms that could support cooperation. In general, cooperation can emerge and be maintained when cooperators are sufficiently interacting with themselves. This communication provides a kind of assortment and reciprocity. The most crucial and common mechanisms to achieve that task are kin selection, spatial structure, and enforcement (punishment). Here, we used agent-based simulation models to investigate these pivotal mechanisms against conditional defector strategies. We concluded that the latter could easily violate the former and take over the population. This surprising outcome may urge us to rethink the evolution of cooperation, as it illustrates that maintaining cooperation may be more difficult than previously thought. Moreover, empirical applications may support these theoretical findings, such as invading the cooperator population of pathogens by genetically engineered conditional defectors, which could be a potential therapy for many incurable diseases.

ABSOLUG - Agent-based simulation of land-use governance

Marius von Essen | Published Mon Jan 10 19:40:51 2022 | Last modified Tue Sep 6 08:24:53 2022

The agent-based simulation of land-use governance (ABSOLUG) is a NetLogo model designed to explore the interactions between stakeholders and the impact of multi-stakeholder governance approaches on tropical deforestation. The purpose of ABSOLUG is to advance our understanding of land use governance, identify macro-level patterns of interaction among governments, commodity producers, and NGOs in tropical deforestation frontiers, and to set a foundation for generating middle-range theories for multi-stakeholder governance approaches. The model represents a simplified, generic, tropical commodity production system, as opposed to a specific empirical case, and as such aims to generate interpretable macro-level patterns that are based on plausible, micro-level behavioral rules. It is designed for scientists interested in land use governance of tropical commodity production systems, and for decision- and policy-makers seeking to develop or enhance governance schemes in multi-stakeholder commodity systems.

ReMoTe-S is an agent-based model of the residential mobility of Swiss tenants. Its goal is to foster a holistic understanding of the reciprocal influence between households and dwellings and thereby inform a sustainable management of the housing stock. The model is based on assumptions derived from empirical research conducted with three housing providers in Switzerland and can be used mainly for two purposes: (i) the exploration of what if scenarios that target a reduction of the housing footprint while accounting for households’ preferences and needs; (ii) knowledge production in the field of residential mobility and more specifically on the role of housing functions as orchestrators of the relocation process.

The Rigor and Transparency Reporting Standard (RAT-RS) is a tool to improve the documentation of data use in Agent-Based Modelling. Following the development of reporting standards for models themselves, attention to empirical models has now reached a stage where these standards need to take equally effective account of data use (which until now has tended to be an afterthought to model description). It is particularly important that a standard should allow the reporting of the different uses to which data may be put (specification, calibration and validation), but also that it should be compatible with the integration of different kinds of data (for example statistical, qualitative, ethnographic and experimental) sometimes known as mixed methods research.

For the full details on the RAT-RS, please refer to the related publication “RAT-RS: A Reporting Standard for Improving the Documentation of Data Use in Agent-Based Modelling” (

Here we provide supplementary material for this article, consisting of a RAT-RS user guide and RAT-RS templates.

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). 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.

PolicySpace2: modeling markets and endogenous public policies

B Furtado | Published Thu Feb 25 13:21:22 2021 | Last modified Fri Jan 14 13:46:42 2022

Policymakers decide on alternative policies facing restricted budgets and uncertain future. Designing public policies is further difficult due to the need to decide on priorities and handle effects across policies. Housing policies, specifically, involve heterogeneous characteristics of properties themselves and the intricacy of housing markets and the spatial context of cities. We propose PolicySpace2 (PS2) as an adapted and extended version of the open source PolicySpace agent-based model. PS2 is a computer simulation that relies on empirically detailed spatial data to model real estate, along with labor, credit, and goods and services markets. Interaction among workers, firms, a bank, households and municipalities follow the literature benchmarks to integrate economic, spatial and transport scholarship. PS2 is applied to a comparison among three competing public policies aimed at reducing inequality and alleviating poverty: (a) house acquisition by the government and distribution to lower income households, (b) rental vouchers, and (c) monetary aid. Within the model context, the monetary aid, that is, smaller amounts of help for a larger number of households, makes the economy perform better in terms of production, consumption, reduction of inequality, and maintenance of financial duties. PS2 as such is also a framework that may be further adapted to a number of related research questions.

Peer reviewed CHIME ABM of Hurricane Evacuation

Sean Bergin C Michael Barton Joshua Watts Joshua Alland Rebecca Morss | Published Mon Oct 18 18:31:05 2021 | Last modified Tue Jan 4 16:51:36 2022

The Communicating Hazard Information in the Modern Environment (CHIME) agent-based model (ABM) is a Netlogo program that facilitates the analysis of information flow and protective decisions across space and time during hazardous weather events. CHIME ABM provides a platform for testing hypotheses about collective human responses to weather forecasts and information flow, using empirical data from historical hurricanes. The model uses real world geographical and hurricane data to set the boundaries of the simulation, and it uses historical hurricane forecast information from the National Hurricane Center to initiate forecast information flow to citizen agents in the model.

Substitution of food products will be key to realising widespread adoption of sustainable diets. We present an agent-based model of decision-making and influences on food choice, and apply it to historically observed trends of British whole and skimmed (including semi) milk consumption from 1974 to 2005. We aim to give a plausible representation of milk choice substitution, and test different mechanisms of choice consideration. Agents are consumers that perceive information regarding the two milk choices, and hold values that inform their position on the health and environmental impact of those choices. Habit, social influence and post-decision evaluation are modelled. Representative survey data on human values and long-running public concerns empirically inform the model. An experiment was run to compare two model variants by how they perform in reproducing these trends. This was measured by recording mean weekly milk consumption per person. The variants differed in how agents became disposed to consider alternative milk choices. One followed a threshold approach, the other was probability based. All other model aspects remained unchanged. An optimisation exercise via an evolutionary algorithm was used to calibrate the model variants independently to observed data. Following calibration, uncertainty and global variance-based temporal sensitivity analysis were conducted. Both model variants were able to reproduce the general pattern of historical milk consumption, however, the probability-based approach gave a closer fit to the observed data, but over a wider range of uncertainty. This responds to, and further highlights, the need for research that looks at, and compares, different models of human decision-making in agent-based and simulation models. This study is the first to present an agent-based modelling of food choice substitution in the context of British milk consumption. It can serve as a valuable pre-curser to the modelling of dietary shift and sustainable product substitution to plant-based alternatives in Britain.

An empirical ABM for regional land use/cover change: a Dutch case study

Diego Valbuena | Published Sat Mar 12 12:58:20 2011 | Last modified Thu Nov 11 09:55:25 2021

This is an empirical model described in The objective of the model is to simulate how the decision-making of farmers/agents with different strategies can affect the landscape structure in a region in the Netherlands.

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