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Wander Jager. An updated conceptual framework for integrated modelling of human decision making: The Consumat II. Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/29–1682),  Sailing Vessels in a Thunderstorm. Social Complex Systems. Ability to learn and adapt Communication is essential Forecast affects outcome.

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Wander Jager

An updated conceptual framework for integrated modelling of human decision making: The Consumat II

social complex systems
Social Complex Systems
  • Ability to learn and adapt
  • Communication is essential
  • Forecast affects outcome

Sometimes turbulent periods, where prediction is difficult, but management critical

social environmental problems
Social environmental problems





Energy use

Air quality

simulation models
Simulation Models

Can help in understanding the dynamics of social environmental systems

May serve as a testbed for developing policy

Behaviour often is the cause but also the solution of problems

There is a need to include behaviour in environmental models that

- captures some essential behavioural processes

- connects behaviour with policy tools

social simulation
Social simulation
  • The key challenges are

- Developing valid rules for agent behaviour based on sound theory

  • Parameterise models on the basis of empirical data
  • Validation using e.g. micro-level process data (life histories)
human needs
Human Needs
  • Subsistence
  • Social
  • Personality
satisfaction of needs
Satisfaction of needs

Discount function:

NyOxt = Σ t..t=n f(t) * (UyOxt)

 In which:

- NyOxt = Need satisfaction of need y (one of the three) for using opportunity Ox at the current time step t

- t..t=n is the time frame considered

- f(t) describes the decay function if decreased weighting of utility over time

  • UyOxt = Utility for need y of opportunity x at time t
  • Uncertainty about future outcomes
decision making
Decision Making
  • Repetition: consider only the behaviour that one is performing now.  
  • Imitation: consider all behavioral options performed by peers (strong links).  
  • Inquiring: consider all behaviour performed by all other agents (weak links).
  • Optimising: consider all possible behavioural options available. Here also opportunities are considered that are not yet used by other agents.

Decision Making

Satisfaction (involvement)



Individual strategies











(much information)

Social strategies




communication in simulation models
Communication in simulation models
  • Communication is critical

- With whom: social networks, in- and outgoing influence

similarity, expertise

- How: observation, norms, information, various channels

- When: involvement, uncertainty, social relevant


Networks are critical, and can be seen as emerging from interactions.

Influencing processes in networks (management) requires an understanding of these interactions, and hence the communication between people

model implications
Model implications

Emergent and dynamic networks based on similarity

Innovation theory is implicit: low importance social needs results in stronger tendency to try new behavioural options.

Heterogeneity in needs importance is relevant in describing different types of personalities and/or cultures

Simple set of rules that can be applied to many situations

  • In turbulent times classical prediction becomes risky, yet management is essential.
  • Serious gaming: exploring managerial strategies.
  • Flightsimulator: not predicting where you land (or crash) but learning how to navigate to a goal and foresee (early warning) and adapt to threats and chances
  • Changing the attributes of behavioural options and communication strategies
a future for policy gaming
A future for policy gaming?

A simulation model

parametrisized on the

basis of empirical

data to represent a

particular system, e.g


Each player is assigned a role (stakeholder), and faces the challenge to

reach his/her goal using available strategies


Management of social complex systems


The Policy Community

Adaptive policy may help in preventing problems!