New JoM-EMIT paper: Gatherer - "The Spread of Irrational Behaviours by Contagion ..."

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Date: Mon Feb 25 2002 - 10:18:32 GMT

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               The Spread of Irrational Behaviours by Contagion:
                           An Agent Micro-Simulation

                                by Derek Gatherer


        A micro-simulation is described, for rational and irrational
        strategies in human mating behaviour. The spread of
        irrational behaviour through a population from a single
        initial individual, the `contagionist paradigm', is shown to
        be highly unlikely in most realistic circumstances. An
        exception to this rule is shown to be where the
        `self-fulfilling prophecy' phenomenon is exhibited, i.e.. the
        irrational meme affects the outcome of the mating.
        Additionally, where the irrational strategy, under conditions
        of self-fulfilling prophecy, is allowed to co-exist with a
        rational strategy (i.e.. a strategy based on factual
        information), both can proceed to fixation, resulting in a
        population of individuals exhibiting both rational and
        irrational memes simultaneously. However, where
        successful pairs are removed from the population, there is
        a tendency for neither behaviour to persist. Maintenance of
        either behaviour in the population under circumstances of
        removal of successful pairs requires a cultural information
        system, i.e.. one where a common pool of information
        may be accessed without a requirement for contagion. This
        implies that contagionist explanations of culture may be
        strictly limited in their application. Some attempt is then
        made to generalise the conclusions to financial systems.

    Available at:


        1 - Introduction
        2 - Methods
        3 - Results
            3.1 - Simulation 1 - Highly contagious irrational behaviour
            in a highly susceptible population.
            3.2 - Simulation 2 - Contagious irrational behaviour with
            poorer replication rates.
            3.3 - Simulation 3 - Contagious irrational behaviour with
            possibility of loss of irrational behaviour.
            3.4 - Simulation 4 - Making contagion dependent on the
            outcome of an event
            3.5 - Simulation 5 - Introducing the `self-fulfilling
            3.6 - Simulation 6 - Introducing rational behaviour
            3.7 - Simulation 7 - Giving agents the benefit of experience
            3.8 - Simulation 8 - Removing successful pairs
            3.9 - Simulation 9 - Removing successful pairs from a
            population with memory
            3.10 - Simulation 10 - Introducing a communal cultural
            information pool influencing conversion decisions
            3.11 - Simulation 11- Cultural information pool with
            replacement of successful pairs.
        4 - Discussion

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