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Discrete Agent Simulations of the Effect of Simple Social Structures on the Benefits of Resource Sharing


  • Stephen Younger



Discrete agent simulations were used to study the effects of alternate ethical systems on the development of individuals and societies. Agents with needs for food, rest, companionship, and activity were placed in a two dimensional artificial world with food centers, shelters, and material centers. As they moved about their environment, the agents chose between different activities based on needs and opportunities. Two behavior types were simulated: “good†agents shared information and goods; “bad†agents did not share and stole goods from others. Simulations were performed for collections of individual agents, for collections of family units, and for societies of multiple families based in one or more common shelters. Leadership was simulated by appointing one agent as shelter manager with authority to direct the labor of other agents. A quality of life factor was defined to monitor the effect of different social norms and organizations upon individual satisfaction. It was found that a society consisting entirely of “bad†agents had a relatively low quality of life. Only a small leavening of “good†agents was required to significantly improve the situation for all agents. Stable family relationships reduced the rate of starvation. Leadership enhanced overall social well-being as measured by the cumulative quality of life of the agents under the leader’s supervision. The optimal social context was found to be one that contained both leadership and permanent family relationships.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Younger, 2005. "Discrete Agent Simulations of the Effect of Simple Social Structures on the Benefits of Resource Sharing," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 6(3), pages 1-1.
  • Handle: RePEc:jas:jasssj:2002-42-4

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