Wander Jager

Wander Jager

I'm a social scientist working at the University College Groningen. I'm interested in societal dynamics on land & seascapes, energy, food, migration, organisation, health and more.

Location The Netherlands


  • Hi Sarah, here a link to a review article on simulation and climate change: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352250X21000968?via%3Dihub
    Also it is easy to scan in the on-line Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation for a lot of applications. The search term "policy" may direct you to more applications.
    Last but not least I...

  • Agree, it contributes to both individuals learning effectively and societies being stable. But conformity may also hamper a required change, hence it is important to study transitional processes.

  • Yes, most organisations cease to exist when they lose their adaptive capacity (become bureaucratic), and if there is turbulence in the market, they cannot cope

  • Indeed conformity is usually a smart learning strategy.

  • The comfort zone indicates that a transition will make existing dominant forces unhappy. If new forces are emerging fast enough a transition may occur.

  • This seems a lock-in between consumer behaviour and industrial production system.

  • In my view it is important to adapt to the new communication channels. Internet is great, and culture on the web is growing. Good thing is that it is evolving into a world wide liberal means of communication that we need to develop a global perspective.

  • Agree, good to have a look at the concept of transition to learn about how to break a lock-in

  • Very nice example indeed!

  • Their relevance relies currently on their social meaning, that's why this is a nice example of a religion being a social lock in.

  • Sometimes - in strong normative environments - the switching costs can be primarily social.

  • Bitcoin is a nice example of an emerging new currency. We are probably going to see more of that.

  • Alejandro, what if I would reply in my mother's language Frysk ;-). The course uses English as language.

  • Guess that the elites in the world use English as second language, hence chances are very likely that it will evolve into the global language.

  • Basically a tradition is a cultural lock-in. Traditions are often effective means of self organisation, but sometimes they are functionally outdated or have evolved in bad practices.

  • very old fashioned indeed...

  • Absolutely, these are clear examples. Think of business suits on hot days for example...

  • The big challenge is if we learn to manage ourselves before we blow up our living environment

  • Lock ins are not positive or negative out of principle..but if there is a negative lock-in is is often hard to change.

  • You use a QWERTY because more than 100 years ago they found this to be the solution for avoiding jammed up typing hammers :-)

  • This is indeed an interesting experiment, in particular in the perspective of AI and robotics doing more work in the near future.

  • In Nigeria they also deal with a lock-in of a political structure that is corrupt, which is effectively being used by oil companies.

  • I guess the current turbulence i the energy market creates a great climate for entrepreneurs in sustainable energy!

  • Actually, crowds seldom turn into mobs, and than only a small minority participates in this. However, it hits the news, so we have often a distorted vision of large group events. Actually people are much nacer than the news suggest :-)

  • The more the music resonates with your taste, the earlier you start dancing...

  • Alcohol is often reducing normative fears, and hence a popular party drug :-)

  • It is also our strength I'd say, that we seem to have a capacity to self organise.

  • We are living in exciting times. Don't be scared, but be brave and create a better future!

  • Internet is a channel. It can be very personal (Skype)

  • In humans you also have a tendency to reject deviant views. Confrontations may result in polarising opinions.

  • Many spiders in a multidimensional web I'd say

  • Wander Jager replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]


  • This implies that we need to know the sender to evaluate the message. Increasingly our internet identity (or reputation) may become important in this context.

  • When the future is unknown the mission is to shape it!

  • It is important to realise that certain -important - means of communication are less suitable in written language. As such, conflicts may arise very quickly in written exchanges on the internet. We have to learn to communicate effectively on the web. Emoticons are a nice example of how we try to cope with this ;-)

  • Absolutely, think about how the telegraph, phone and internet changed how we live!

  • People are very social, and greed is only very limited. That we dislike greed shows that most of us are not that greedy. However, we have a tendency of following other people in acquiring material wealth - falsely assuming this is an expression of happiness. This often causes us to behave less social, and has a negative impact on our happiness.

  • Glorious is nature :-)

  • I like the bee example because it reveals that we are talking about processes of life, not only human behaviour

  • Agree, it is essential to understand how a system can move from one state to another one.

  • Wander Jager replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    LOL Joe...but if you look in a systemic way to life it is indeed fascinating to see how much intertwined different species and organisational levels are...still a lot to discover!

  • Agree, think it is important to realise that we are social beings, not the individualist as economic theory teaches us.

  • :-)

  • Emergence is a process, hence I would say emergent behaviour follows from social interaction/communication.

  • The communicative capacity of these trees has evolved, possibly following simple rules and selection processes.

  • Look e.g. at norms in society, an example of the omnipresence of downward causation.

  • It should be running smoothly on youtube.

  • Whereas many people seem to be absent minded looking at their little screens, they apparently are behaving socially on the web. I agree that we should not forget to care about the people in our direct vicinity!

  • Perhaps the creator emerged from individual fear for uncertainty...

  • Religion is also a strong emergent phenomenon. Everywhere on the planet you see how people follow each other in their religion without really questioning why.

  • Simple rules can cause emergent behaviour. So if-then rules are sufficient for emergence to become manifest.

  • They amplify each other's behaviour, causing a strong collective behaviour

  • Indeed very interesting, the speed of communication increased, and emergence can operate faster on a larger scale. This might promotes the emergence of a world culture, composed of jeans, English as a second language, rock & roll etc.

  • Yes,although when a majority is doing something it might be already a strong norm. Fortunately non-conformists like to deviate from the norm, which is needed for society to avoid stagnation.

  • Indeed, the floor is here the communication medium.

  • Wander Jager replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    Yes, you got the picture here, it is a very much moving pattern!

  • Agree. Sometimes cities are also in the minds of people..think about Warsaw, which was erased in WW2, but rebuild because people felt at home and reconstructed it somehow.

  • Micro and macro are conceptual lenses, whereas for a sociologist the human is the micro level, for a cell-biologist it would be the macro level. The key issue here is understanding the interactions between different aggregational scales.

  • Yes, this is very relevant in understanding a lot of economical processes, e.g. market dynamics

  • I would say conformism leads to the emergences of synchronised behaviour. And mind, variation is critical, non-conformists are critical in discovering new behaviours.

  • Indeed, we are a social species. The question of free will is a fascinating one. An interesting perspective is that we are just the carriers of our genes.. (Richard Dawkins, the Selfish gene)

  • Basically it refers to the same process. See e.g. http://humbleapproach.templeton.org/Top_Down_Causation/

  • Managerial practices often are difficult to change because they have grown into the organisation. Indeed a lock in that requires serious effort to change

  • This has cause a situation that is indeed very different to change because of the 2 separate social networks operating on this island.

  • This is not really strongly synchronised behaviour I guess. We follow our individual biological drives here. Having certain times for different meals can be a practical lock-in for families.

  • Norms and etiquette are nice examples of social lock in's. Also nice to see how these differ over cultures.

  • That does not seem to be a lock in because it lacks a social context of interdependencies.

  • Indeed, you can have positive lock in's. The simple example agreeing on left or right driving.

  • This is not a lock-in in the context of complex systems (although many people are locked in complex marriages ;-). I would describe this more as our biological reproduction behaviour. Rituals around marriage and birth can be considered to be cultural lock-in's.

  • Nice example of dealing with lock-ins. Because people are used to it they find it complicated to change.

  • Sexual orientation is not really a lock-in in the sense that you could change. The culture of how sexuality is perceived is a lock-in. But you see it can change over time.

  • Wander Jager replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    Agree, also the belief in e.g. economic rationality can be seen as a cultural lock-in

  • Birth is not a lock in, as there are more people not born that there are ;-) . But seriously, a lock-in implies that another solution is possible, but difficult to see or to reach because of the social and institutional fabric of society.

  • Agree, sometimes you take for granted what an educational system should look like. And having a different idea about education may prove to be very difficult to realise!

  • Dear David. I agree with you that simulations of social systems address a fundamental different level of complexity. This implies that using such social simulators would require a more careful approach in dealing with the outcomes. This is indeed tricky, because people have a strong tendency to trust model outcomes (especially when these outcomes are...

  • Dear Samuel, I disagree. Whereas metronomes cannot reflect on their behaviour, we can. Hence we have the choice to deviate from the norm. And that is the essential force driving progress in society.

  • We are not going to find a " right" model...because I'm afraid such a thing does not exist. We do hope to learn how to improve the management of society towards a more sustainable state.

  • Dear Michael, the problem is that you end up with a "second world" that is so complex that the model is equally difficult to study as the real world. A certain simplicity is required to be capable of identifying causal mechanisms.

  • Learning and building up experience is obviously very important. Social learning and Individual elaborations lead to the processing of information, and linking it to existing knowledge networks. You can even approach this on a neural base level, and a lot of literature can be found on that. For simple modelling you just have to simplify..although more complex...

  • I hope the material is accessible for all. If the steps are to small there is a lot of material available to study. Just check out the journal JASSS and indulge yourself with agent based models on a wide variety of topics! Hope you enjoy!

  • Depends...concerning fashionable trends Leigh is right, but there are many other new behaviours that are not fashionable in the beginning, but adopted and spread through society.

  • Wander Jager replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    I'm a lot on the street...and enjoy the richness of real behaviour. Model are suitable to capture some processes in relative isolation. Indeed we are not all followers, otherwise progress would not have been possible!

  • Being an innovator is usually not easy...but you will have an impact on other people as well, and change the situation for the better. And indeed, many people have a brand loyalty for cars because the brand has become a part of their identity, and it makes the decision for a next car much easier

  • Usually it is not a single factor, but a lot that are relevant at different moments.

  • Should be no problem....please try again.

  • Forecasting is so problematic...but in the same vein it is comforting for people that are afraid to deal with uncertainty. Exactly that is the pitfall...people like predictions over uncertainty because they dislike uncertainty. This makes it often difficult to convince people of the use of social simulation models.

  • Messing with the data is like adding noise to a simulation to make it more realistic. In my view this is not smart, it is like adding fog to see less... If the model does not behave realistic this is cause by the fact that the model is not the reality. Better to understand processes than to miraculously get results that seem to be " realistic" in some sense.

  • Playing with a good model learns you a lot...and helps you recognising processes in reality.

  • At the University College Groningen we are currently building such a game with an artificial population. Exciting project!

  • Indeed a challenge is to address psychological processes on a deeper level in this modelling. Very relevant in my view. Most psychological research nowadays is language based, which means that the data have been filtered by the language of the cortex. But this discussion might require another MOOC...

  • Very difficult indeed to have a model at the " right level". Basically a clear question helps in defining what to include and what to leave out of the model. Often simplicity is an art...

  • This also might be an attachment to the brand - social influence is not per-se a reason here.

  • People can become very attached to products (or holiday destinations), and it met become a part of their identity. This can be communicated a.o. with a tattoo. Obviously this matches more with some life styles than with others...can't imagine a tattoo of the brand of Givenchy on a lady...

  • Indeed the development of valid rules is critical. In social sciences most theories are based on correlations, whereas in a model this should be translated in causalities. This is a challenge for science, and in my view contributes to the maturation of social sciences.

  • I don't know what you exactly mean with "Does this mean that emergent behaviour always conforms to a pattern of normality?"

  • Switching from one platform to another may be costly. Apple now allows for Microsoft software on their operating system, which makes it much easier for people to switch.

  • There are many possibilities here. Currently we are finalising an article where almost 3000 real people are used to model 3000 agents to study the diffusion of electric cars. Many data are included concerning expertise, social influence and the like. But this is not a model suitable for an introduction...

  • Sometimes you see in this model that a third product profits from the battle between the other two...something that also can be observed in reality!

  • This model is very very simple, just for demonstrations. Just like including anti-conformists you could also change the characteristics of the central people. There is empirical proof these people are more expert.

  • Word-of-mouth is critical. Here in the Netherlands we say trust arrives on foot, but leaves on horseback. Negative word of mouth is devastating.