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Regular version of the site

Article

Simulating irrational human behavior to prevent resource depletion

Plos One. 2015. Vol. 10. No. 3. P. e0117612.
Sircova A., Karimi F., Osin E. N., Lee S., Holme P., Strömbom D.

In a situation with a limited common resource, cooperation between individuals sharing the resource is essential. However, people often act upon self-interest in irrational ways that threaten the long-term survival of the whole group. A lack of sustainable or environmentally responsible behavior is often observed. In this study, we examine how the maximization of benefits principle works in a wider social interactive context of personality preferences, in order to gain a more realistic insight into the evolution of cooperation. We used time perspective (TP), a concept reflecting individual differences in orientation towards past, present, or future, and relevant for making sustainable choices. We developed a personality-driven agent-based model that explores the role of personality in the outcomes of social dilemmas and includes multiple facets of diversity. 1) The agents have different behavior strategies: individual differences derived by applying cluster analysis to survey data from 22 countries (N=10,940) and resulting in 7 cross-cultural profiles of TP. 2) The non-uniform distribution of the types of agents across countries. 3) The diverse interactions between the agents and 4) diverse responses to those interactions in a well-mixed population. As one of the results, we introduced an index of overall cooperation for each of the 22 countries, which was validated against cultural, economic, and sustainability indicators (HDI, dimensions of national culture, and Environment Performance Index). It was associated with higher human development, higher individualism, lower power distance, and better environmental performance. The findings illustrate how individual differences in TP can be simulated to predict the ways people in different countries solve the personal vs common gain dilemma in the global limited-resource situation. This inter-disciplinary approach to social simulation can be adopted to explain the possible causes of global environmental issues and to predict their possible outcomes.