Paul E. Smaldino
Center for Advanced Modeling in the Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences
Johns Hopkins University


"Options for Social Modeling and Individual Decision Making"



Id like to present a basic introduction to myself and my work, in the hopes of finding
kindred spirits and possible collaborators. I have very broad range of interests, which
include many fundamental issues in psychology, evolution, and the philosophies of mind
and science. My informal talk will be divided into two basic parts, as follows.

1. Structure and mobility in agent-based models of social evolution. Ill discuss
some of my work on computational models of social behavior and evolution,
which to date have focused on cooperation and human mate choice. Individuals in
these models are explicitly represented in physical or network space. I will show
that the structure of the social environment the ways in which social actors
interact and the ways in which that structure changes over time have important
consequences for population-level phenomena, including a fundamentally new
result in the evolution of cooperation.

2. The origins of options. This is a new line of work Ive been developing. Most
research on decision making has focused on how human or animal decision
makers choose between two or more options, known in advance to the
researchers. The mechanisms by which options are generated for most decisions,
however, are not well understood. Models of sequential search have examined the
trade-off between continued exploration and choosing ones current best option,
but still cannot explain the processes by which new options are generated. I argue
that understanding the origins of options is a crucial but untapped area for
decision making research. I will discuss broad categories of factors that influence
options: environmental, psycho-biological, and socio-cultural. The intention is to
start a discussion on understanding the origins of options. In contrast to Part 1,
this is all verbal argument at this stage, and I very much welcome comments or