Computational models of collective behavior

Robert L. Goldstone, Marco A. Janssen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

249 Scopus citations


Computational models of human collective behavior offer promise in providing quantitative and empirically verifiable accounts of how individual decisions lead to the emergence of group-level organizations. Agent-based models (ABMs) describe interactions among individual agents and their environment, and provide a process-oriented alternative to descriptive mathematical models. Recent ABMs provide compelling accounts of group pattern formation, contagion and cooperation, and can be used to predict, manipulate and improve upon collective behavior. ABMs overcome an assumption that underlies much of cognitive science - that the individual is the crucial unit of cognition. The alternative advocated here is that individuals participate in collective organizations that they might not understand or even perceive, and that these organizations affect and are affected by individual behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-430
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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