Presenter/Author Information

James D. A. Millington

Keywords

agent-based modelling, social network, identity change, agricultural transitions, land use

Start Date

1-7-2012 12:00 AM

Description

Many agent-based models (ABMs) use typologies to classify diverse actors into few simplified conceptual categories (e.g., hobby farmer, commercial farmer) with uniform decision-making strategies. This approach usually assumes that a representative agent can belong to only a single conceptual category at any one time. However, Social Psychological Theory (SPT) asserts that individual actors' identities are constructed of multiple hierarchical self-concepts that drive decisions and behaviour. Identities may also change through time. Recent empirical and theoretical work has used this theory to investigate agricultural transitions and cultural change, but its use in an agent-based framework has yet to be explored. To investigate the potential of using SPT in ABMs of natural resource use and show proof of concept, we present an exemplary agent-based modelling framework that explicitly represents multiple and hierarchical agent self-concepts. Using the model we explore dynamics of change in farmer self-concepts and agricultural land use for different macro-structural conditions (i.e., the social network of agents, land resources, agricultural policy and political economy). Initial results suggest that productivist farmer identities are stubborn to change, the spatial distribution of land resources influences identity change, and rules for social network formation influence likelihood of agents' identity change. These results suggest it will be fruitful to continue to explore the use of SPT in ABMs of natural resource use.

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Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

Using social psychology theory for modelling farmer decision-making

Many agent-based models (ABMs) use typologies to classify diverse actors into few simplified conceptual categories (e.g., hobby farmer, commercial farmer) with uniform decision-making strategies. This approach usually assumes that a representative agent can belong to only a single conceptual category at any one time. However, Social Psychological Theory (SPT) asserts that individual actors' identities are constructed of multiple hierarchical self-concepts that drive decisions and behaviour. Identities may also change through time. Recent empirical and theoretical work has used this theory to investigate agricultural transitions and cultural change, but its use in an agent-based framework has yet to be explored. To investigate the potential of using SPT in ABMs of natural resource use and show proof of concept, we present an exemplary agent-based modelling framework that explicitly represents multiple and hierarchical agent self-concepts. Using the model we explore dynamics of change in farmer self-concepts and agricultural land use for different macro-structural conditions (i.e., the social network of agents, land resources, agricultural policy and political economy). Initial results suggest that productivist farmer identities are stubborn to change, the spatial distribution of land resources influences identity change, and rules for social network formation influence likelihood of agents' identity change. These results suggest it will be fruitful to continue to explore the use of SPT in ABMs of natural resource use.