Integrating Social Practice Theory in Agent-Based Models: A Review of Theories and Agents

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Evidence-driven agent-based modeling plays a useful part in understanding social phenomena. By integrating social-cognitive theories in our agent models, we bear evidence from social and psychological studies on our models for human decision-making. Social practice theory (SPT) provides a socio-cognitive theory that emphasizes three empirically and theoretically grounded aspects of behavior: habituality, sociality, and interconnectivity. Previous work has emphasized the importance of SPT for agents, has made abstract models of SPT, or used SPT to study energy systems. This article provides a set of requirements for integrating SPT in agent models and an evaluation of 11 current agent models with respect to these requirements. We find that current agent models do not fully capture habituality, sociality, or interconnectivity, nor is there a model that aims to integrate all three aspects. For example, current models do not support context-dependent habits, use a comprehensive set of collective concepts, and support hierarchies of activities. Our evaluation allows researchers to pick one of the current agent models depending on their needs regarding habituality, sociality, and interconnectivity. Furthermore, this article shows the usefulness of an agent model that integrates SPT and provides requirements that help modelers to achieve this model.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9151181
Pages (from-to)1131-1145
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computational Social Systems
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Agent-based modeling
  • cognition
  • social intelligence

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