MOVING TARGETS: HOW CONSUMERS CHANGE VALUE SYSTEMS THROUGH INTERACTION WITH DESIGNED PRODUCTS AND OTHER CONSUMERS
Editor: Christian Weber, Stephan Husung, Gaetano Cascini, Marco Cantamessa, Dorian Marjanovic, Monica Bordegoni
Author: Thomas, Russell C.; Gero, John S.
Institution: 1: George Mason University, United States of America; 2: University of North Carolina at Charlotte, United States of America
Section: Human Behaviour in Design, Design Education
Designers need to understand the role of social influence between consumers as an endogenous process of shaping value systems, and within the larger framework of indirect mutual influence on value systems of both consumers and designers. This paper presents the results of computational experiments on the effects of social influence on individual and systemic behaviour of modelling consumers as situated cognitive agents in a product-consumer environment. Paired experiments were performed with identical initial conditions to compare the behaviour of social agents with non-social agents. Experiment results show that social agents are more productive in consuming available products, both in terms of aggregate unit consumption and aggregate utility. But this comes at a cost of individual average utility per unit consumed. In effect, social interaction achieved higher productivity by ‘lowering the standards’ of individual consumers. While still at an early stage of development, such an agent-based model laboratory is shown to be an effective research tool to investigate rich collective behaviour in the context of demanding cognitive tasks such as design innovation.