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Agent_ZeroToward Neurocognitive Foundations for Generative Social Science$
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Joshua M. Epstein

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691158884

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691158884.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction

Joshua M. Epstein

Princeton University Press

This book describes an agent-based model dubbed Agent_Zero, which was constructed using a significant volume of contemporary cognitive neuroscience. Agent_Zero is a new theoretical entity that exhibits observable behaviors generated by the interaction of affective, cognitive, and social components. Its affective component is based on the Rescorla–Wagner model of conditioning and extinction, while its cognitive (deliberative) component reflects biases and heuristics in probability estimation. The book presents Agent_Zero as a new, neurocognitively grounded, foundation for generative social science, a simple explicit model of individual behavior in groups that includes some representation of “the passions,” of (imperfect) reason, and of social influence. This introduction explains the motivations for constructing Agent_Zero, its components, and its basic mathematical scaffolding. It also provides an overview of the book's organization.

Keywords:   cognitive neuroscience, Agent_Zero, Rescorla–Wagner model, conditioning, extinction, probability estimation, generative social science, passions, social influence, reason

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