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Momentum Report Summary

Project ID: 324247
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Switzerland

Mid-Term Report Summary - MOMENTUM (Modeling the Emergence of Social Complexity and Order:How Individual and Societal Complexity Co-Evolve)

The “Momentum” project develops a new perspective on human interactions and social systems by combining theory, agent-based modeling, data-driven research and behavioral experiments. The focus of the project is on co-evolutionary processes and on our society as a “social ecosystem”, where rules, institutions, norms, and behaviors are interlinked in a dynamic system. In particular, the project investigates how cooperation and social norms emerge from repeated social interactions, as driven by cognitive processes and adaptive dynamics that can create other-regarding preferences (“homo socialis”) and networked decision-making.

Momentum is broad and highly interdisciplinary. It combines various methodologies and pursues an innovative approach which harnesses the power of complexity science to solve long-standing scientific puzzles. It has the potential to bridge previously incompatible research traditions by revealing unexpected and seemingly paradoxical relationships between them. Thereby, it will help to overcome existing controversies and the related fragmentation of the social sciences.

So far, the project has used theoretical models, data-driven empirical studies, and data-validated modeling to understand how social mechanisms emerge and how they create complex behavioural patterns in human societies in a variety of contexts. The project research so far has shown not only how these societal properties are created and maintained, but also how foreseeable future developments may influence them; in particular the likely impact of the digital revolution and the Big Data society. These results help determine the steps necessary to maintain and improve societally positive behaviours such as co-operation and collaboration in the face of these coming developments.

A particularly noteworthy milestone of the project has been the publication of an entire Special Issue on Homo Socialis, published in The Review of Behavioural Economics (Review of Behavioural Economics: Special Issue Volume 2 Issue 1-2, 2015). The lead article of this special issue was the article by Herbert Gintis and Dirk Helbing on “Homo Socialis”, an article that posited a novel framework for analyzing, modeling and understanding human behavior beyond the economic paradigm of utility maximization. This article has spear-headed our research into this direction.

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