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Regular version of the site

Simulations, Experiment and Predicative Theories of Behaviour in Social Sciences

2019/2020
Academic Year
ENG
Instruction in English
8
ECTS credits
Course type:
Elective course
When:
2 year, 1, 2 module

Instructor

Course Syllabus

Abstract

The course covers two important (both in science and in practice), but underrepresented in traditional sociological curricula, research approaches: experiments and simulations (mostly agent-based models) in social science. We focus (1) on contemporary approaches of explanation in social sciences and (2) on the set of methodological and software tools, enabling a social research relevant in ‘big data’ age. The theoretical part of the course introduces theoretical frameworks serving as the foundation of model building in social science. The practical part allows to get hands-on experience with analytical techniques and tools of Computational Social Science with a focus on (web-) experiments, decision- and agent-based models. We will discuss and practice explanatory mechanism construction and get skills necessary to analyse human behaviour in contemporary social settings, including cases when natural experiments are impossible or inefficient. In addition, we will discuss applications of social experiments and simulations in applied settings, including web- and business analytics, and User eXperience, e.g. A/B and multivariate testing, field UX experiments, allowing students to see applications of research skills to real world settings.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Choose an appropriate framework to analyse human decisions on micro and macro-level
  • Analyse, criticize and improve simple web- and agent-based designs of existing studies
  • Develop the explanatory mechanism on a phenomenon of interest
  • Develop the explanatory mechanism on a phenomenon of interest
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Applies modern social research methods and models to study behavior, decision making and complex social phenomena using tools of computational social science
  • Formulates goals and research questions to observational, experimental and computational studies using modern tools of computational social science
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Course Intro. Theory, Decisions and Models. Simulations and experiments. Digital Social Research
  • Observing Behavior using Digital Data
  • Research Questions and Methods. Experiments
  • Individual Decision Making - Optimization, Rationality, Utility, Cognitive Biases. Tools for Modelling Individual Decisions
  • Desire-Belief-Opportunity framework. Decisions and Influence in Dyads. Networks. Emergence of Friendship
  • Micro-Macro links in Complex Adaptive Systems. What is Agent-Based Model? Introduction to NetLogo - My first ABM. Creating ABM from scratch. Design Principles
  • ABM-based Theory Construction and validation
  • Micro-Macro Link and Sociological Explanation
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Essay
    An essay is a written self-study on a topic offered by the teacher or by the student him/herself approved by teacher. The topic for essay includes development of skills for critical thinking and written argumentation of ideas. An essay should include clear statement of a research problem; include an analysis of the problem by using concepts and analytical tools within the subject that generalize the point of view of the author. Essay structure: 1. Introduction and formulation of a research question. 2. Body of the essay and theoretical foundation of selected problem and argumentation of a research question. 3. Conclusion and argumentative summary about the research question and possibilities for further use or development.
  • non-blocking Project
  • non-blocking In-class Participation
  • non-blocking Exam
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (1 module)
    0.4 * Essay + 0.2 * In-class Participation + 0.4 * Project
  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.4 * Essay + 0.2 * In-class Participation + 0.4 * Project
Bibliography

Bibliography

Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Manzo, G. (2014). Analytical Sociology : Actions and Networks. Hoboken: Wiley. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=714658
  • Wilensky, U., & Rand, W. (2015). An Introduction to Agent-Based Modeling : Modeling Natural, Social, and Engineered Complex Systems with NetLogo. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=976350

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • MacKenzie, I. S. (2013). Human-Computer Interaction : An Empirical Research Perspective. Amsterdam: Morgan Kaufmann. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=486557