Community Events

Special Session on Formalising and implementing human behaviour in agent-based models @ ESSA 2017

For those of you working on modelling human behaviour in natural resource use systems, the following session at the Social Simulation Conference in Dublin, 25.-29. September 2017, may be of interest:

Special Session on Formalising and implementing human behaviour in agent-based models of natural resource use

Gunnar Dressler, Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ. Leipzig.
Wander Jager, University College Groningen.
Felix John, Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig.

Models of natural resource use address challenging problems like the sustainable management of fisheries or finding a trade-off between cash and subsistence crops in an agricultural system that is beneficial both for the land users as well as the ecosystem. Such models often put great emphasis on a detailed representation of the biophysical processes, whereas human decision-making is only poorly addressed. Agent-based models (ABMs) allow the explicit representation of individual motivations and decision processes in the context of utilizing resources in interaction with other users. Current formalizations of agent behaviour are mostly using a purely rational decision maker, or an ad hoc implementation of e.g. social influence in decision-making. In the social sciences, many behavioural theories have been developed demonstrating that people generally do not engage in purely rational decision-making. However, their use in social-ecological modelling has been very limited up to now. This lack of use of social theory is due to a few reasons (e.g., Schlüter et al, 2017). The more descriptive level of most behavioural theory forms the biggest hurdle. Having relations between theoretical constructs expressed in statistical (correlations) rather than formal terms makes a direct translation in models impossible. Second, behavioural theories generally start with drivers of behaviour and end with the performance of behaviour. It is often not being addressed how the behaviour of many individuals (macro-level) composes the social setting determining the behaviour of an individual (micro-level) in a next stage. Hence, the loop connecting micro and macro-level behaviour is not closed. Last but not least, the modeller is confronted with an abundance of different behavioural theories, often overlapping, with different explanatory aims and on different levels of aggregation. In the proposed session on agent-based models of natural resource use we invite researchers implementing human behaviour in addressing natural resource use and social-ecological models to submit their work for discussion. The session is organised to stimulate an exchange of the possibilities and difficulties in formalising and implementing behavioural theory in social-ecological models.

Submission deadline is March 31st, and more information on submission guidelines can be found here:


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