Value-driven behavior in agent-based models

Session chairs:

Michael Roos,  –

Jessica Reale

Frederik Banning


ABM, values, economics, preferences


Shalom Schwartz defines basic values as transsituational goals, varying in importance, that serve as guiding principles in the life of a person or group. Values should hence be expected to be important drivers of human behavior, which has been confirmed in empirical research on voting behavior or (sustainable) consumption choices. While social sciences and consumer research readily accept values as determinants of behavior, they play only a small role in economic research so far. Economics uses “preferences” as fundamental determinants of behavior, but they are not linked to theories from sociology or social psychology. Theories of values could provide microfoundations to preferences, which would be an important contribution to economic theory, because preferences are usually taken as given and are not subject of economic analysis. Conventional economic theory treats preferences as black boxes and does not impose any structure on them apart from the well-known rationality axioms, which are refuted by empirical research. Value theories such as the Schwartz theory can propose such structure and make preferences subject to empirical research. This is important, because models of utility maximization without constraints on preferences can be criticized for being tautological and hence untestable. Value-based behavior is also an alternative to existing behavioral assumptions in agent-based models. Especially in economic agent-based models, behavior is either specified according to ad-hoc rules or based on reduced forms of utility-maximization behavior.

We invite papers from all social sciences that use theories of values as a foundation of behavior in agent-based models. We welcome both conceptual papers discussing methodological issues and papers in which ABMs with value-driven behavior are presented. Empirical papers that relate values to (economic) choices are welcome, too. Since value-based research is underrepresented in economics, we especially encourage researchers from economics to submit papers.