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What can simulation test beds teach us about social science? Results of the ground truth program

Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory

Naugle, Asmeret B.; Krofcheck, Daniel J.; Warrender, Christina E.; Lakkaraju, Kiran L.; Swiler, Laura P.; Verzi, Stephen J.; Emery, Ben; Murdock, Jaimie; Bernard, Michael L.; Romero, Vicente J.

The ground truth program used simulations as test beds for social science research methods. The simulations had known ground truth and were capable of producing large amounts of data. This allowed research teams to run experiments and ask questions of these simulations similar to social scientists studying real-world systems, and enabled robust evaluation of their causal inference, prediction, and prescription capabilities. We tested three hypotheses about research effectiveness using data from the ground truth program, specifically looking at the influence of complexity, causal understanding, and data collection on performance. We found some evidence that system complexity and causal understanding influenced research performance, but no evidence that data availability contributed. The ground truth program may be the first robust coupling of simulation test beds with an experimental framework capable of teasing out factors that determine the success of social science research.

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Feedback density and causal complexity of simulation model structure

Journal of Simulation

Naugle, Asmeret B.; Verzi, Stephen J.; Lakkaraju, Kiran L.; Swiler, Laura P.; Warrender, Christina E.; Bernard, Michael L.; Romero, Vicente J.

Measures of simulation model complexity generally focus on outputs; we propose measuring the complexity of a model’s causal structure to gain insight into its fundamental character. This article introduces tools for measuring causal complexity. First, we introduce a method for developing a model’s causal structure diagram, which characterises the causal interactions present in the code. Causal structure diagrams facilitate comparison of simulation models, including those from different paradigms. Next, we develop metrics for evaluating a model’s causal complexity using its causal structure diagram. We discuss cyclomatic complexity as a measure of the intricacy of causal structure and introduce two new metrics that incorporate the concept of feedback, a fundamental component of causal structure. The first new metric introduced here is feedback density, a measure of the cycle-based interconnectedness of causal structure. The second metric combines cyclomatic complexity and feedback density into a comprehensive causal complexity measure. Finally, we demonstrate these complexity metrics on simulation models from multiple paradigms and discuss potential uses and interpretations. These tools enable direct comparison of models across paradigms and provide a mechanism for measuring and discussing complexity based on a model’s fundamental assumptions and design.

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Conflicting Information and Compliance With COVID-19 Behavioral Recommendations

Naugle, Asmeret B.; Rothganger, Fredrick R.; Verzi, Stephen J.; Doyle, Casey L.

The prevalence of COVID-19 is shaped by behavioral responses to recommendations and warnings. Available information on the disease determines the population’s perception of danger and thus its behavior; this information changes dynamically, and different sources may report conflicting information. We study the feedback between disease, information, and stay-at-home behavior using a hybrid agent-based-system dynamics model that incorporates evolving trust in sources of information. We use this model to investigate how divergent reporting and conflicting information can alter the trajectory of a public health crisis. The model shows that divergent reporting not only alters disease prevalence over time, but also increases polarization of the population’s behaviors and trust in different sources of information.

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Graph-Based Similarity Metrics for Comparing Simulation Model Causal Structures

Naugle, Asmeret B.; Swiler, Laura P.; Lakkaraju, Kiran L.; Verzi, Stephen J.; Warrender, Christina E.; Romero, Vicente J.

The causal structure of a simulation is a major determinant of both its character and behavior, yet most methods we use to compare simulations focus only on simulation outputs. We introduce a method that combines graphical representation with information theoretic metrics to quantitatively compare the causal structures of models. The method applies to agent-based simulations as well as system dynamics models and facilitates comparison within and between types. Comparing models based on their causal structures can illuminate differences in assumptions made by the models, allowing modelers to (1) better situate their models in the context of existing work, including highlighting novelty, (2) explicitly compare conceptual theory and assumptions to simulated theory and assumptions, and (3) investigate potential causal drivers of divergent behavior between models. We demonstrate the method by comparing two epidemiology models at different levels of aggregation.

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The Ground Truth Program: Simulations as Test Beds for Social Science Research Methods.

Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory

Naugle, Asmeret B.; Russell, Adam R.; Lakkaraju, Kiran L.; Swiler, Laura P.; Verzi, Stephen J.; Romero, Vicente J.

Social systems are uniquely complex and difficult to study, but understanding them is vital to solving the world’s problems. The Ground Truth program developed a new way of testing the research methods that attempt to understand and leverage the Human Domain and its associated complexities. The program developed simulations of social systems as virtual world test beds. Not only were these simulations able to produce data on future states of the system under various circumstances and scenarios, but their causal ground truth was also explicitly known. Research teams studied these virtual worlds, facilitating deep validation of causal inference, prediction, and prescription methods. The Ground Truth program model provides a way to test and validate research methods to an extent previously impossible, and to study the intricacies and interactions of different components of research.

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Emergent Recursive Multiscale Interaction in Complex Systems

Naugle, Asmeret B.; Doyle, Casey L.; Sweitzer, Matthew; Rothganger, Fredrick R.; Verzi, Stephen J.; Lakkaraju, Kiran L.; Kittinger, Robert; Bernard, Michael L.; Chen, Yuguo C.; Loyal, Joshua L.; Mueen, Abdullah M.

This project studied the potential for multiscale group dynamics in complex social systems, including emergent recursive interaction. Current social theory on group formation and interaction focuses on a single scale (individuals forming groups) and is largely qualitative in its explanation of mechanisms. We combined theory, modeling, and data analysis to find evidence that these multiscale phenomena exist, and to investigate their potential consequences and develop predictive capabilities. In this report, we discuss the results of data analysis showing that some group dynamics theory holds at multiple scales. We introduce a new theory on communicative vibration that uses social network dynamics to predict group life cycle events. We discuss a model of behavioral responses to the COVID-19 pandemic that incorporates influence and social pressures. Finally, we discuss a set of modeling techniques that can be used to simulate multiscale group phenomena.

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Hierarchical effects facilitate spreading processes on synthetic and empirical multilayer networks


Doyle, Casey L.; Gunda, Thushara G.; Naugle, Asmeret B.

In this paper we consider the effects of corporate hierarchies on innovation spread across multilayer networks, modeled by an elaborated SIR framework. We show that the addition of management layers can significantly improve spreading processes on both random geometric graphs and empirical corporate networks. Additionally, we show that utilizing a more centralized working relationship network rather than a strict administrative network further increases overall innovation reach. In fact, this more centralized structure in conjunction with management layers is essential to both reaching a plurality of nodes and creating a stable adopted community in the long time horizon. Further, we show that the selection of seed nodes affects the final stability of the adopted community, and while the most influential nodes often produce the highest peak adoption, this is not always the case. In some circumstances, seeding nodes near but not in the highest positions in the graph produces larger peak adoption and more stable long-time adoption.

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A Regional Model of Climate Change and Human Migration

Research Anthology on Environmental and Societal Impacts of Climate Change

Naugle, Asmeret B.; Backus, George A.; Tidwell, Vincent C.; Keller, Elizabeth J.; Villa, Daniel V.

As climate change and human migration accelerate globally, decision-makers are seeking tools that can deepen their understanding of the complex nexus between climate change and human migration. These tools can help to identify populations under pressure to migrate, and to explore proactive policy options and adaptive measures. Given the complexity of factors influencing migration, this article presents a system dynamics-based model that couples migration decision making and behavior with the interacting dynamics of economy, labor, population, violence, governance, water, food, and disease. The regional model is applied here to the test case of migration within and beyond Mali. The study explores potential systems impacts of a range of proactive policy solutions and shows that improving the effectiveness of governance and increasing foreign aid to urban areas have the highest potential of those investigated to reduce the necessity to migrate in the face of climate change.

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Group Formation Theory at Multiple Scales

Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)

Doyle, Casey L.; Naugle, Asmeret B.; Bernard, Michael L.; Lakkaraju, Kiran L.; Kittinger, Robert; Sweitzer, Matthew; Rothganger, Fredrick R.

There is a wealth of psychological theory regarding the drive for individuals to congregate and form social groups, positing that people may organize out of fear, social pressure, or even to manage their self-esteem. We evaluate three such theories for multi-scale validity by studying them not only at the individual scale for which they were originally developed, but also for applicability to group interactions and behavior. We implement this multi-scale analysis using a dataset of communications and group membership derived from a long-running online game, matching the intent behind the theories to quantitative measures that describe players’ behavior. Once we establish that the theories hold for the dataset, we increase the scope to test the theories at the higher scale of group interactions. Despite being formulated to describe individual cognition and motivation, we show that some group dynamics theories hold at the higher level of group cognition and can effectively describe the behavior of joint decision making and higher-level interactions.

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Results 1–25 of 87
Results 1–25 of 87