Joshua Epstein

Paper #: 00-03-022

This paper extends the literature on the evolution of norms with an agent-based model capturing a phenomenon that has been essentially ignored, namely that individual thought--or computing--is often inversely related to the strength of a social norm. Once a norm is entrenched, we confirm thoughtlessly. In this model, agents learn how to behave (what norm to adopt), but--under a strategy I term ‘Best Reply to Adaptive Sample Evidence’--they also learn how much to think about how to behave. How much they’re thinking affects how they behave, which--given how others behave--affects how much they think. In short, there is feedback between the social (interagent) and internal (intra-agent) dynamics. In addition, we generate the stylized facts regarding the spatiotemporal evolution of norms: local conformity, global diversity, and punctuated equilibria.