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The Innate Mind Volume 2: Culture and Cognition$
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Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence, and Stephen Stich

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195310139

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195310139.001.0001

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Shaping Social Environments with Simple Recognition Heuristics

Shaping Social Environments with Simple Recognition Heuristics

(p.165) 11 Shaping Social Environments with Simple Recognition Heuristics
The Innate Mind

Peter M. Todd (Contributor Webpage)

Annerieke Heuvelink

Oxford University Press

Agents can shape their environment through the decisions they make, and when they do this in a coordinated manner, profound structure can emerge. Previously, the authors of this chapter have shown via computer simulations that agents using a simple recognition-based decision heuristic to choose among options in their environment could make some options much more popular than most others, if the agents communicated their knowledge directly to each other. This chapter shows that such environment shaping effects can arise even among non-communicating agents. All the agents need do is note the presence or absence of others making the same choices, akin to social conformity effects in human and social enhancement in foraging animals. Thus, social cognition mechanisms that are much simpler than full-blown communication can still enable strong environment structure to emerge in a population of interacting agents.

Keywords:   environment structure, social conformity, agent-based simulation, communication, social cognition

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