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Does Empirical Embeddedness Matter? Methodological Issues on Agent-Based Models for Analytical Social Science

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Abstract

The paper deals with the use of empirical data in social science agent-based models. Agent-based models are too often viewed just as highly abstract thought experiments conducted in artificial worlds, in which the purpose is to generate and not to test theoretical hypotheses in an empirical way. On the contrary, they should be viewed as models that need to be embedded into empirical data both to allow the calibration and the validation of their findings. As a consequence, the search for strategies to find and extract data from reality, and integrate agent-based models with other traditional empirical social science methods, such as qualitative, quantitative, experimental and participatory methods, becomes a fundamental step of the modelling process. The paper argues that the characteristics of the empirical target matter. According to characteristics of the target, ABMs can be differentiated into case-based models, typifications and theoretical abstractions. These differences pose different challenges for empirical data gathering, and imply the use of different validation strategies.

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Article provided by Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation in its journal Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation.

Volume (Year): 8 (2005)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 6

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Handle: RePEc:jas:jasssj:2005-66-1

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Keywords: Agent-Based Models; Empirical Calibration and Validation; Taxanomy of Models;

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Cited by:
  1. Jinjing Li & Cathal O'Donoghue, 2013. "A survey of dynamic microsimulation models: uses, model structure and methodology," International Journal of Microsimulation, Interational Microsimulation Association, vol. 6(2), pages 3-55.
  2. Li, Jinjing & O'Donoghue, Cathal, 2012. "A methodological survey of dynamic microsimulation models," MERIT Working Papers 002, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  3. Dan Farhat, 2011. "Bookworms versus Party Animals: An Artificial Labor Market with Human and Social Capital Accumulation," Working Papers 1103, University of Otago, Department of Economics, revised May 2011.
  4. Kostadinov, Fabian & Holm, Stefan & Steubing, Bernhard & Thees, Oliver & Lemm, Renato, 2014. "Simulation of a Swiss wood fuel and roundwood market: An explorative study in agent-based modeling," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 105-118.

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