Agent decision-making: The Elephant in the Room - Enabling the justification of decision model fit in social-ecological models

Nanda Wijermans*, Geeske Scholz, Émile Chappin, Alison Heppenstall, Tatiana Filatova, J. Gareth Polhill, Christina Semeniuk, Frithjof Stöppler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Agent-based models are particularly suitable to reflect the dynamics of humans, nature, and their interactions, making them a crucial approach for understanding social-ecological systems. The formalisations of human decision-making are central to resulting model behaviours. Despite awareness of the complexity of human behaviour in social-ecological systems research, scholars tend to represent human decision-makers as simplified, perfectly informed rational optimisers, without explicitly considering the fit with decision context. Key reasons are a lacking uptake of social theories and insights. To advance, we need a practice of reflecting, sharing, and inquiring on the justification of the decision model fit with its context. This paper stimulates this practice by 1) supporting the justification of decision model (DM) fit by describing the DM landscape and providing guiding questions; and 2) by supporting researchers in considering alternative DMs through a survey-based impression of modeller practices, and through highlighting DM frontiers as inspiration for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105850
JournalEnvironmental Modelling and Software
Volume170
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • Agent-based social simulation
  • Behaviour
  • Decision-making
  • Formalisation
  • Frameworks
  • Social-ecological systems

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