Abstract for: Modeling Psychological and Sociological Dynamics

Many dynamics models use psychological and sociological concepts (e.g., motivation, trust, morale, customer satisfaction, or burnout) as variables. Despite the wide-spread use of these variables in system dynamics, many people are skeptical about including them in their models. These concepts have often been labeled as "soft" or "intangible" because they are thought not to be directly or indirectly observable (although you may be able to observe their causes and consequences). Some people question whether these concepts can be measured or quantified at all. Yet these concepts may be needed for the model to properly address its objectives or purpose. In this workshop we will (1) demonstrate how to transform a psychological and sociological construct into a variable in a system dynamics model, (2) discuss ways to validate both the construct and the model, and (3) provide a roadmap to the literature addressing use of psychological and sociological variables in dynamics models. Using examples developed in Vensim and iThink/Stella (e.g., Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Milgram’s obedience experiment, Stanford prison experiment, rioting, family dynamics, syndemic risk, and worker burnout), we will engage participants in hands-on exercises that apply key concepts presented in this workshop.