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The EMO-Model: An Agent-Based Model of Primate Social Behavior Regulated by Two Emotional Dimensions, Anxiety-FEAR and Satisfaction-LIKE

By Ellen Evers, Han de Vries, Berry Spruijt and Elisabeth Sterck


Agent-based models provide a promising tool to investigate the relationship between individuals’ behavior and emerging group-level patterns. An individual’s behavior may be regulated by its emotional state and its interaction history with specific individuals. Emotional bookkeeping is a candidate mechanism to keep track of received benefits from specific individuals without requiring high cognitive abilities. However, how this mechanism may work is difficult to study in real animals, due to the complexity of primate social life. To explore this theoretically, we introduce an agent-based model, dubbed EMO-model, in which we implemented emotional bookkeeping. In this model the social behaviors of primate-like individuals are regulated by emotional processes along two dimensions. An individual’s emotional state is described by an aversive and a pleasant dimension (anxiety and satisfaction) and by its activating quality (arousal). Social behaviors affect the individuals’ emotional state. To implement emotional bookkeeping, the receiver of grooming assigns an accumulated affiliative attitude (LIKE) to the groomer. Fixed partner-specific agonistic attitudes (FEAR) reflect the stable dominance relations between group members. While the emotional state affects an individual’s general probability of executing certain behaviors, LIKE and FEAR affect the individual’s partner-specific behavioral probabilities. In this way, emotional processes regulate both spontaneous behaviors and appropriate responses to received behaviors, while emotional bookkeeping via LIKE attitudes regulates the development and maintenance of affiliative relations. Using an array of empirical data, the model processes were substantiated and the emerging model patterns were partially validated. The EMO-model offers a framework to investigate the emotional bookkeeping hypothesis theoretically and pinpoints gaps that need to be investigated empirically

Year: 2014
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