Frans N. Stokman
University of Groningen
My focus is on simulation as a tool in macro-micro-macro analyses of social systems.
Most simulation models make too many ad hoc assumptions and are not or only very
loosely connected with empirical data. In contrast, I argue for simple models,
well grounded on theory, adding complexity stepwise. Following the paradigms of
structural individualism, the emphasis lies on multi-agent modeling, taking the
incentive structures of social actors as starting points. The model(s) should
focus on the basic processes through which simultaneous and interdependent individual
actions are transformed into collective outcomes. By feeding the models with
parameters that specify the incentive structures of social actors and their social
constraints (and are obtained in efficient data collection procedures), powerful
models can be developed that have high predictive value and provide valuable
instruments for social intervention.
I will illustrate the approach with models of collective decision making and
social network evolution. Particularly the collective decision making models
have been validated in extensive scientific and applied research, providing
important and valuable extra insights even to 'experienced negotiators'.