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Journal Articles

Sunk-cost effects and vulnerability to collapse in ancient societies

Janssen, M.A., T.A. Kohler, and M. Scheffer

2003 Current Anthropology 44(5): 722-728.

Simulating market dynamics: Interactions between consumer psychology and social networks

Janssen, M.A. and W. Jager

2003 Artificial Life 9(4): 343-356.


Markets can show different types of dynamics, from quiet markets dominated by one or a few products, to markets with continual penetration of new and reintroduced products. In a previous article we explored the dynamics of markets from a psychological perspective using a multi-agent simulation model. The main results indicated that the behavioral rules dominating the artificial consumer’s decision making determine the resulting market dynamics, such as fashions, lock-in, and unstable renewal. Results also show the importance of psychological variables like social networks, preferences, and the need for identity to explain the dynamics of markets. In this article we extend this work in two directions. First, we will focus on a more systematic investigation of the effects of different network structures. The previous article was based on Watts and Strogatz’s approach, which describes the small-world and clustering characteristics in networks. More recent research demonstrated that many large networks display a scale-free power-law distribution for node connectivity. In terms of market dynamics this may imply that a small proportion of consumers may have an exceptional influence on the consumptive behavior of others (hubs, or early adapters). We show that market dynamics is a self-organized property depending on the interaction between the agents’ decision-making process (heuristics), the product characteristics (degree of satisfaction of unit of consumption, visibility), and the structure of interactions between agents (size of network and hubs in a social network).


Multi-agent systems for the simulation of land-use and land-cover change: a review

Parker, D.C., S.M. Manson, M.A. Janssen, M. Hoffmann, and P. Deadman

2003 Annals of the Association of American Geographers 93(2): 314-337.


This article presents an overview of multi-agent system models of land-use/cover change (MAS/LUCC models). This special class of LUCC models combines a cellular landscape model with agent-based representations of decision making, integrating the two components through specification of interdependencies and feedbacks between agents and their environment. The authors review alternative LUCC modeling techniques and discuss the ways in which MAS/LUCC models may overcome some important limitations of existing techniques. We briefly review ongoing MAS/LUCC modeling efforts in four research areas. We discuss the potential strengths of MAS/LUCC models and suggest that these strengths guide researchers in assessing the appropriate choice of model for their particular research question. We find that MAS/LUCC models are particularly well suited for representing complex spatial interactions under heterogeneous conditions and for modeling decentralized, autonomous decision making. We discuss a range of possible roles for MAS/LUCC models, from abstract models designed to derive stylized hypotheses to empirically detailed simulation models appropriate for scenario and policy analysis. We also discuss the challenge of validation and verification for MAS/LUCC models. Finally, we outline important challenges and open research questions in this new field. We conclude that, while significant challenges exist, these models offer a promising new tool for researchers whose goal is to create fine-scale models of LUCC phenomena that focus on human-environment interactions.

Keywords: agent-based modeling, cellular automata, complexity theory, land-use and land-cover change, multi-agent systems


The need for and development of behaviorally realistic agents

Jager, W. and M.A. Janssen

2003 Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence 2581: 36-49.


In this paper we argue that simulating complex systems involving human behaviour requires agent rules based on a theoretically rooted structure that captures basic behavioural processes. Essential components of such a structure involve needs, decision-making processes and learning. Such a structure should be based on state-of-the-art behavioural theories and validated on the micro-level using experimental or field data of individual behaviour. We provide some experiences we had working with such a structure, which involve the possibility to relate the results of simulations on different topics, the ease of building in extra factors for specific research questions and the possibility to use empirical data in calibrating the model. A disadvantage we experienced is the lack of suiting empirical data, which necessitates in our view the combined use of empirical and simulation research.


Economic valuation of the Leuser National Park on Sumatra, Indonesia

Van Beukering, P.J.M., H. Cesar and M.A. Janssen

2003 Ecological Economics 44(1): 43-62.


The Leuser Ecosystem in Northern Sumatra is officially protected by its status as an Indonesian national park. Nevertheless, it remains under severe threat of deforestation. Rainforest destruction has already caused a decline in ecological functions and services. Besides, it is affecting numerous economic activities in and around the Leuser National Park. The objectives of this study are twofold: firstly, to determine the total economic value (TEV) of the Leuser Ecosystem through a systems dynamic model. And secondly, to evaluate the economic consequences of deforestation versus conservation, disaggregating the economic value for the main stakeholders and regions involved. Using a dynamic simulation model, economic valuation is applied to evaluate the TEV of the Leuser National Park over the period 2000–2030. Three scenarios are considered: ‘conservation’, ‘deforestation’ and, ‘selective use’. The results are presented in terms of (1) the type of benefits, (2) the allocation of these benefits among stakeholders, and (3) the regional distribution of benefits. The economic benefits considered include: water supply, fisheries, flood and drought prevention, agriculture and plantations, hydro-electricity, tourism, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, fire prevention, non-timber forest products, and timber. The stakeholders include: local community members, the local government, the logging and plantation industry, the national government, and the international community. The regions considered cover the 11 districts involved in the management of the Leuser Ecosystem. With a 4% discount rate, the accumulated TEV for the ecosystem over the 30-year period is: US $7.0 billion under the ‘deforestation scenario’, US $9.5 billion under the ‘conservation scenario’ and US $9.1 billion under the ‘selective utilisation scenario’. The main contributors in the conservation and selective use scenarios are water supply, flood prevention, tourism and agriculture. Timber revenues play an important role in the deforestation scenario. Compared to deforestation, conservation of the Leuser Ecosystem benefits all categories of stakeholders, except for the elite logging and plantation industry.

Keywords: Natural resource valuation; Conservation; Deforestation; Indonesia


Book Chapters

Empirical foundations for agent-based modeling: how do institutions affect agents’ land-use decision processes in Indiana?

Carlson, L, M. Janssen, T. Myint, E. Ostrom and A. York

2003 In Proceedings of the Agent 2002 Conference on Social Agents: Ecology, Exchange, and Evolution, edited by C. Macal and D. Sallach, pp. 133-148, Argonne National Laboratory, IL.


The use of agent-based modeling (ABM) has recently been extended to the study of natural resource management and land-use and land-cover change. Many ABM applications have been at a conceptual and abstract level, which helps scholars to recognize how macro patterns can emerge from simple rules followed by agents at a micro level. ABM has a greater potential than many other approaches to capture the dynamic relationships between social and ecological systems. This paper contributes to a larger effort to explore how individual decision making by a heterogeneous set of landowners, given local biophysical conditions, led to the particular aggregate pattern of land-cover change in Indiana, with an emphasis on forest-cover change. In our preliminary effort, we created a model structure that allowed examination of the institutional impact of government programs on individual land-use decisions. Our model is based on the concept that an initial condition endows an agent with a particular set of beliefs and desires that could lead to any number of intentions, actions, and outcomes. Institutions have the potential to intervene in an agent’s decision-making process and alter its beliefs and desires by providing information and incentives. The next crucial step in our effort will be to extend this model to study the impact of other political institutions, such as taxation and zoning, as well as utilize the conceptual model to facilitate implementation of institutions in the agent-based model.


Diffusion processes in demographic transitions: a prospect on using multi agent simulation to explore the role of cognitive strategies and social interactions

Jager, W. and M.A. Janssen

2003 In Agent-Based Computational Demography, edited by A. Fürnkranz-Prskawetz and F.C. Billari, pp. 55-72, Springer Verlag.


Multi agent simulation (MAS) is a tool that can be used to explore the dynamics of different systems. Considering that many demographic phenomena have roots in individual choice behaviour and social interactions it is important that this behaviour is being translated in agent rules. Several behaviour theories are relevant in this context, and hence there is a necessity of using a meta-theory of behaviour as a framework for the development of agent rules. The consumat approach provides a basis for such a framework, as is demonstrated with a discussion of modelling the diffusion of contraceptives. These diffusion processes are strongly influenced by social processes and cognitive strategies. Different possible research lines are discussed which might be addressed with a multi-agent approach like the consumats.


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