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In this article we describe the basic principles of the HUMAT architecture
A map of simulated Groningen, where 14.165 agents interact
© University of Groningen

The HUMAT integrated architecture has been developed within the EU Horizon2020 SMARTEES project, and models successful cases of social innovations implemented in European cities and islands. Cases address for example refurbishment projects of rental homes, the banning of transit car traffic from neighborhoods and parks (as discussed in the previous video), and heat network projects in cities.

HUMAT has been developed as an integrated framework combining a number of critical behavioural drivers and processes, and guides the use of data, both qualitative and quantitative, in setting up a simulation model to explore the social dynamics for specific cases.

Here we provide a very brief overview of the behavioural drivers and processes that are included in HUMAT agents. The agents are motivated by three groups of needs, respectively

  1. subsistence, i.e. immediate consequences of actions in terms of safety, comfort and finance,
  2. social, i.e. group norms and their importance for social identity, and
  3. personal, i.e. religious, ecological, economical and (sub)cultural values.

Each agent is also equipped with memory storing past experiences. An agent can ask other agents in their network(s) after their experiences (inquiring). But an agent can also try to persuade other agents to change opinion or behaviour. Especially when friends have deviant opinions, cognitive dissonance may be experienced, which can be resolved by convincing the other, or complying to the other. Think for example of a vegan person, who is trying to convince his or her friends to become vegan too.

The networks can be made dynamic, where old links disappear and new ones emerge, for example breaking a link with another agent with persistent opposing views on important matters.

HUMAT thus provides a framework that allows for modelling the complex social dynamics that are responsible for many societal issues.

For an example of applications you can visit this detailed deliverable of the SMARTEES project on local social innovation.

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Decision Making in a Complex World: Using Computer Simulations to Understand Human Behaviour

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