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‘Modelling Values in Agents, Technologies & Institutions’ – a Workshop at Social Simulation FesT 2021

Feb 22, 2021 | General News

Members of ValueChange team, together with a colleague form the University of Manchester are organizing a workshop on Modeling Values in Agents, Technology, and Institutions at the Social Simulation FesT 2021, on March 18, 2021. .

Workshop Description 

Addressing new challenges in socio-technical systems requires a critical inquiry into behaviour-related concepts like values, beliefs, and norms. On Thursday 18th March, 1:30-4:30 PM (CET Time), we will have a workshop on “Modelling Values in Agents, Technologies and Institutions” which goal is to bring together international researchers that are experimenting with qualitative concepts (e.g., values, norms, beliefs) in their agent-based models. This workshop facilitates new cross-disciplinary ABM research pathways by learning from each other’s experiences and challenges of implementing quantitative concepts like values in the modelling practice. As a concept in ABM practice, value only recently started to get deserved attention despite playing a core role in a decision making process that informs agents’ actions. Complex socio-technical challenges of the energy transition, climate change, and, in particular, the disruptive COVID-19 pandemic triggered a series of ABM research that adopts the concept of value from different domains like ethics, psychology, and anthropology. Insights into values are particularly essential when researching new technologies and policies impacts and the agent’s responses to the implementation of these. The 3-hour workshop will explore such concepts to understand better agents’ behaviours regarding technologies and institutions and a potential impact on the model’s robustness, illustrative, explanatory, and predictive power.

Chairs: Amineh Ghorbani, Anna Melnyk, and Bruce Edmonds

Note: Please, remember to register for the event through the main web-page. 

Workshop Program  

13:30 – 13:40   Opening (Amineh Ghorbani / Anna Melnyk/ Bruce Edmonds)

13:40 – 15:00   Session 1: Cognitive Architectures of Agents and the Role of Values and Beliefs 

13:40 – 14:00   Presentation by Gert Jan Hofstede “How do values spread?” 

14:00 – 14:20   Presentation by Thomas Feliciani, Junwen Luo, Pablo Lucas & Kalpana Shankar “Modeling Peer Reviewers: Searching for Cognitive Aspects that Matter” 

14:20 – 15:00   Plenary session and breakout rooms 

15:00 – 15:15  Coffee break

15:15 – 16:35 Session 2: Values and Value Change in Socio-Technical Systems

15:15 – 15:35   Presentation by Anna Melnyk, Bart de Bruin & Amineh Ghorbani “Modelling Value Change to Study Institutional Emergence”

15:35 – 15:55   Presentation by Tristan de Wildt “Barriers to Operationalizing Values into Agent-Based Models”

15:55 – 16:35   Plenary session and breakout rooms 

16:35 – 16:45   Wrap up


* Throughout the workshop, we will be using Mural ( to collect discussion notes. Per session, there will be a separate mural link. We hope to draft an opinion paper as an outcome of this workshop.


A list of discussion points/propositions per session:

Session 1: Cognitive Architectures of Agents and the Role of Values and Beliefs

1. To what extent do values need to be culture- or context-specific?

2. How might one validate that a value has been implemented correctly within an ABM? 

3. What criteria should one use to judge if some values are acting realistically within an ABM?

4. What happens when stakeholders object to the way values are implemented within an ABM?

5. Are values simply an area that modellers should not trespass upon?

6. How do values relate to considerations of identity?

Session 2: Values and Value Change in Socio-Technical Systems 

1. To what extent are values needed within ABMs in practical situations (as opposed to being considered by the modellers)?

2.  Does one need to implement values within an ABM if there are already goals? (more generally – how should values relate to goals)

3. Can values can be satisfactorily implemented as 1D indicators, or are narratives – stories that encapsulate values – also needed?

4. Is there a single way of balancing trade-offs between different values, or lots of different ways that might be used (by agents or humans)?

5. What are the limits of what kind of values and value change might be implementable within ABMs?

6. What ways of endogenising value within ABMs can be supportive in studying mechanisms of their change?


About Social Simulation FesT 2021

A Social Simulation FesT (SocSimFesT2021), an event combining a number of different “tracks,” inspirational talks and online social activities, is organized by the European Social Simulation Association after the success of the Social Simulation Week 2020. This event aims to make the best use of the alternative opportunities offered by an online meeting format to organize a different kind of event than a face-to-face conference.