Social Influence and Decision-Making: Evaluating Agent Networks in Village Responses to Change in Freshwater
This paper presents a model, using concepts from artificial neural networks, that explains how small rural communities make decisions that affect access to potable freshwater. Field observations indicate that social relationships as well as individual goals and perceptions of decision makers have a strong influence on decisions that are made by community councils. Our work identifies three types of agents, which we designate as alpha, beta, and gamma agents. We address how gamma agents affect decisions made by community councils in passing resolutions that benefit a village's collective access to clean freshwater. The model, which we call the Agent Types Model (ATM), demonstrates the effects of social interactions, corporate influence, and agent-specific factors that determine choices for agents. Data from two different villages in rural Alaska and several parameter sensitivity tests are applied to the model. Results demonstrate that minimizing the social significance and agent-specific factors affecting gamma agents' negative compliance increases the likelihood that communities adopt measures promoting potable freshwater access. The significance of this work demonstrates which types of communities are potentially more socially vulnerable or resilient to social-ecological change affecting water supplies.
Volume (Year): 13 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
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