Category Diffusion

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Journal Articles

Adoption as a Social Marker: Innovation Diffusion With Outgroup Aversion

Smaldino, P.E., M.A. Janssen, V. Hillis, and J. Bednar

2017 Journal of Mathematical Sociology 41(1): 26-45.


Social identities are among the key factors driving behavior in complex societies. Signals of social identity are known to influence individual behaviors in the adoption of innovations. Yet the population-level consequences of identity signaling on the diffusion of innovations are largely unknown. Here we use both analytical and agent-based modeling to consider the spread of a beneficial innovation in a structured population in which there exist two groups who are averse to being mistaken for each other. We investigate the dynamics of adoption and consider the role of structural factors such as demographic skew and communication scale on population-level outcomes. We find that outgroup aversion can lead to adoption being delayed or suppressed in one group, and that population-wide underadoption is common. Comparing the two models, we find that differential adoption can arise due to structural constraints on information flow even in the absence of intrinsic between-group differences in adoption rates. Further, we find that patterns of polarization in adoption at both local and global scales depend on the details of demographic organization and the scale of communication. This research has particular relevance to widely beneficial but identity-relevant products and behaviors, such as green technologies, where overall levels of adoption determine the positive benefits that accrue to society at large.


Scenario Analysis of Technology Products with an Agent-Based Simulation and Data Mining Framework

Shinde, A., M. Haghnevis, M.A. Janssen, G. Runger and M. Janakiram

2013 International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management 10(5):1-22.


A framework is presented to simulate and analyze the effect of multiple business scenarios on the adoption behavior of a group of technology products. Diffusion is viewed as an emergent phenomenon that results from the interaction of consumers. An agent-based model is used in which potential adopters of technology product are allowed to be influenced by their local interactions within the social network. Along with social influence, the effect of product features is important and we ascribe feature sensing attributes to the consumer agents along with sensitivities to social influence. The model encompasses utility theory and discrete choice models in the decision-making process for the consumers. We use expressive machine learning algorithms that can handle complex, nonlinear, and interactive effects to identify important inputs that contribute to the model and to graphically summarize their effects. We present a realistic case study that demonstrates the ability of this framework to model changes in market shares for a group of products in response to business scenarios such as new product introduction and product discontinuation under different pricing strategies. The models and other tools developed here are envisioned to be a part of a recommender system that provides insights into the effects of various business scenarios on shaping market shares of different product groups.

Keywords: Scenario analysis; technology substitution; dependency plots


Will it spread or not? The effects of social influences and network topology on innovation diffusion

Delre, S.A, W. Jager, T.H.A. Bijholt and M.A. Janssen

2010 Journal of Product Innovation Management 27(2): 267-282.


Innovation diffusion theory suggests that consumers differ concerning the number of contacts they have and the degree and the direction to which social influences determine their choice to adopt. To test the impacts of these factors on innovation diffusion, in particular the occurrence of hits and flops, a new agent-based model for innovation diffusion is introduced. This model departs from existing percolation models by using more realistic agents (both individual preferences and social influence) and more realistic networks (scale free with cost constraints). Furthermore, it allows consumers to weight the links they have, and it allows links to be directional. In this way this agent-based model tests the effect of VIPs who can have a relatively large impact on many consumers. Results indicate that markets with high social influence are more uncertain concerning the final success of the innovation and that it is more difficult for the innovation to take off. As consumers affect each other to adopt or not at the beginning of the diffusion, the new product has more difficulties to reach the critical mass that is necessary for the product to take off. In addition, results of the simulation experiments show under which conditions highly connected agents (VIPs) determine the final diffusion of the innovation. Although hubs are present in almost any network of consumers, their roles and their effects in different markets can be very different. Using a scale-free network with a cut-off parameter for the maximum number of connections a hub can have, the simulation results show that when hubs have limits to the maximum number of connections the innovation diffusion is severely hampered, and it becomes much more uncertain. However, it is found that the effect of VIPs on the diffusion curve is often overestimated. In fact when the influence of VIPs on the decision making of the consumers is strengthened compared with the influence of normal friends, the diffusion of the innovation is not substantially facilitated. It can be concluded that the importance of VIPs resides in their capacity to inform many consumers and not in a stronger persuasive power.


Targeting and timing promotional activities: An agent-based model for the takeoff of new products

Delre, S.A., W. Jager, M.A. Janssen, T.H.A. Bijmolt

2007 Journal of Business Research 60(8): 826-835.


Many marketing efforts focus on promotional activities that support the launch of new products. Promotional strategies may play a crucial role in the early stages of the product life cycle, and determine to a large extent the diffusion of a new product. This paper proposes an agent-based model to simulate the efficacy of different promotional strategies that support the launch of a product. The article in particular concentrates on the targeting and the timing of the promotions. The results of the simulation experiments indicate that promotional activities highly affect diffusion dynamics. The findings indicate that: (1) the absence of promotional support and/or a wrong timing of the promotions may lead to a failure of product diffusion; (2) the optimal targeting strategy is to address distant, small and cohesive groups of consumers; and (3) the optimal timing of a promotion differs between durable categories (white goods, such as kitchens and laundry machines, versus brown goods, such as TVs and CDs players). These results contribute to the planning and the management of promotional strategies supporting new product launches.

Keywords: Diffusion of innovations; Agent-based model; Targeting strategies; Promotions; Takeoff of diffusions; Word-of-mouth; Social influence


Diffusion dynamics in small-world networks with heterogeneous consumers

Delre, S.A, W. Jager and M.A. Janssen

2007 Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory 13(2): 185-202.


Diffusions of new products and technologies through social networks can be formalized as spreading of infectious diseases. However, while epidemiological models describe infection in terms of transmissibility, we propose a diffusion model that explicitly includes consumer decision-making affected by social influences and word-of-mouth processes. In our agent-based model consumers’ probability of adoption depends on the external marketing effort and on the internal influence that each consumer perceives in his/her personal networks. Maintaining a given marketing effort and assuming its effect on the probability of adoption as linear, we can study how social processes affect diffusion dynamics and how the speed of the diffusion depends on the network structure and on consumer heterogeneity. First, we show that the speed of diffusion changes with the degree of randomness in the network. In markets with high social influence and in which consumers have a sufficiently large local network, the speed is low in regular networks, it increases in small-world networks and, contrarily to what epidemic models suggest, it becomes very low again in random networks. Second, we show that heterogeneity helps the diffusion. Ceteris paribus and varying the degree of heterogeneity in the population of agents simulation results show that the more heterogeneous the population, the faster the speed of the diffusion. These results can contribute to the development of marketing strategies for the launch and the dissemination of new products and technologies, especially in turbulent and fashionable markets.

Keywords: Innovation diffusion; Threshold models; Word-of-mouth; Social networks; Heterogeneous markets


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).


Book Chapters

Diffusion Dynamics of Electric Cars and Adaptive Policy: Towards an Empirical Based Simulation

Jager, W., M.A. Janssen and M. Bockarjova

2014 In Advances in Social Simulation, edited by  by B. Kamiński and G. Koloch, Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, 229: 259-270, Springer Berlin Heidelberg.


In this paper we apply the updated consumat approach to the case of diffusion of electric cars. We will discuss how data from a large sample can be used to parameterize a number of main behavioural drivers, and how these relate to behavioural processes. At this stage we explain how the data fit in the framework, and whereas a model is currently under development, first simulation results are to be available first during the ESSA conference.

Keywords: diffusion; electric cars; agent based modeling; human behavior; decision making; needs; consumat


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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