Application of Psychological Theories in Agent-Based Modeling: The Case of the Theory of Planned Behavior

Andrea Scalco*, Andrea Ceschi, Riccardo Sartori

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


It is likely that computer simulations will assume a greater role in the next future to investigate and understand reality (Rand & Rust, 2011). Particularly, agent-based models (ABMs) represent a method of investigation of social phenomena that blend the knowledge of social sciences with the advantages of virtual simulations. Within this context, the development of algorithms able to recreate the reasoning engine of autonomous virtual agents represents one of the most fragile aspects and it is indeed crucial to establish such models on well-supported psychological theoretical frameworks. For this reason, the present work discusses the application case of the theory of planned behavior (TPB; Ajzen, 1991) in the context of agent-based modeling: It is argued that this framework might be helpful more than others to develop a valid representation of human behavior in computer simulations. Accordingly, the current contribution considers issues related with the application of the model proposed by the TPB inside computer simulations and suggests potential solutions with the hope to contribute to shorten the distance between the fields of psychology and computer science.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-33
Number of pages19
JournalNonlinear dynamics, psychology, and life sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • Interdisciplinary method
  • Social simulations
  • Critical Review
  • Computational Social Science


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