Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 52-84

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Modelling collective decision making in groups and crowds: Integrating social contagion and interacting emotions, beliefs and intentions

  • Tibor BosseAffiliated withDepartment of Artificial Intelligence, VU University
  • , Mark HoogendoornAffiliated withDepartment of Artificial Intelligence, VU University
  • , Michel C. A. KleinAffiliated withDepartment of Artificial Intelligence, VU University
  • , Jan TreurAffiliated withDepartment of Artificial Intelligence, VU University Email author 
  • , C. Natalie van der WalAffiliated withDepartment of Artificial Intelligence, VU University
  • , Arlette van WissenAffiliated withDepartment of Artificial Intelligence, VU University


Collective decision making involves on the one hand individual mental states such as beliefs, emotions and intentions, and on the other hand interaction with others with possibly different mental states. Achieving a satisfactory common group decision on which all agree requires that such mental states are adapted to each other by social interaction. Recent developments in social neuroscience have revealed neural mechanisms by which such mutual adaptation can be realised. These mechanisms not only enable intentions to converge to an emerging common decision, but at the same time enable to achieve shared underlying individual beliefs and emotions. This paper presents a computational model for such processes. As an application of the model, an agent-based analysis was made of patterns in crowd behaviour, in particular to simulate a real-life incident that took place on May 4, 2010 in Amsterdam. From available video material and witness reports, useful empirical data were extracted. Similar patterns were achieved in simulations, whereby some of the parameters of the model were tuned to the case addressed, and most parameters were assigned default values. The results show the inclusion of contagion of belief, emotion, and intention states of agents results in better reproduction of the incident than non-inclusion.


Computational modelling Collective decision making Social neuroscience Mirroring Belief Emotion Intention Crowd behaviour