Examining the Interplay Between National Strategies and Value Change in the Battle Against COVID-19: An Agent-Based Modelling Inquiry

M. Ale Ebrahim Dehkordi, A. Melnyk, Amineh Ghorbani, P.M. Herder

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Social disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic challenged existing institutional arrangements that govern the society. During that time, nation-states had to prevent the collapse of society and rapidly establish new institutions and adapt existing ones to address public health, job security, and freedom-of-movement concerns. At the same time, institutional developments are explicitly or implicitly related to the cultural and moral values relevant to societal well-being. Values hold a significant role in governing society during crises, guiding states' institutional response to unforeseen challenges. However, values themselves are not static: research has shown that values may change rapidly during crises. This paper studies the relationship between value change and institutional change in times of crisis using agent-based modelling and machine learning techniques. In our model, we represent countries as agents who define institutional strategies to control disease spread and subsequently protect the well-being of their citizens. Institutional change and value change are modelled as two independent processes. Yet, the model confirms the seemingly trivial inverse correlation between them: when the value of openness-to-change increases in a society, the institutional strategies also become less strict. Conversely, when conservatism increases, the strategies become stricter on average. However, there is no direct causal relationship between the two changes: being open to change does not necessarily make a government select more relaxed rules, but this correlation is rather an emergent consequence of being more flexible in changing rules, whether the new ones are stricter or more relaxed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number18
JournalJournal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Institutional modelling
  • values
  • value change
  • Institutional evolution
  • crisis


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