Abstract for: Modeling Psychological and Sociological Dynamics

Many system dynamics models use psychological and sociological concepts (e.g., motivation, loyalty, morale, customer satisfaction, or burnout) as variables. Many people are skeptical about using these concepts in models, and have labeled them as "soft" or "intangible" because they are not directly or indirectly observable (although you may be able to observe their causes and consequences). Yet, there are models where these concepts are needed for the model to properly address its purpose. In this workshop, we describe a set of activities, within the overall modeling process, designed to incorporate psychological or sociological concepts into system dynamics models. This includes defining the relevant concept, quantifying and operationalizing it (to transform it into a variable), validating it, and relating it to other variables in the model. Building upon our first delivery of this workshop in 2015, we offer an updated annotated bibliography, new exercises, and updated presentation materials. We include activities to help modelers identify and incorporate soft variables into their stock and flow simulation models. We discuss key concepts and illustrate many with models developed in Vensim and Stella. We also provide a roadmap to the literature addressing use of psychological and sociological variables in dynamics models.