About the LABSS


A highly interdisciplinary research group working at the intersection among cognitive, social and computational sciences. This is the Laboratory of Agent-Based Social Simulation (LABSS), which aims at using innovative tools to unfold the complexity of human social behaviour.


The LABSS was funded in the 90s within the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies of the National Research Council of Italy by the cognitive and social scientist Rosaria Conte.

Since its early days, the laboratory has been characterized by an explorative approach to Agent Based Modeling and Simulation.

The LABSS currently consists of an international and interdisciplinary group counting around 10 collaborators among social scientists, physics, philosophers, computer scientists, sociologists and cognitive scientists. The LABSS is currently managed together by Mario Paolucci and Giulia Andrighetto.


Can social artifacts such as norms and reputation be studied as scientific objects? Can social behaviour be modeled? Can society be simulated? These questions would have been nonsense in traditional sociology, but in the latest years the focus and objectives of social science have deeply changed.

Reproducing social processes is the challenge of Agent-Based Social Simulation, a new field constantly crossing the disciplinary boundaries.

For this reason, the objectives of the Laboratory of Agent-Based Social Simulation are isolating and reproducing some crucial aspects of social life with computational models.

This research contributes to understand many micro and macro dynamics of social life, bridging the gap between the descriptive and the experimental approach. How do new conventions and norms spread in society? What is the role of reputation in competitive settings? How do socially desirable behaviours emerge? LABSS team works to answer these and other questions, making social simulation a fundamental tool connecting problems, theories, and possible solutions.

In particular, people working at the LABSS developed several multi agent-based computational models and simulation platforms, applying them to:

  • Study the main ingredients of social intelligence as a properties of individual and multi-agent systems
  • Study the complex (micro-macro) dynamics of social cognitive artefacts (such as norms and reputation) regulating societies of autonomous intelligent agents
  • Model the emergence of social relationships and networks (for example, dependence networks) from societies of autonomous social intelligent agents (DEP-NET; PART-NET; etc.)
  • Model norms as social behaviour and mental objects (consisting of normative representations and goals)
  • Simulate norm-based agent societies (SIM-NORM)
  • Develop a simulation-based theory of social evaluations, namely reputation and image,
  • Apply it to develop a computational tool for forming and circulating social evaluation (REPAGE)
  • Reproduce examples of altruism found in nature, i.e. food-sharing among vampire bats (Desmodus Rotundus), in order to model the evolution of altruism
  • Study the cognitive processes behind peer review in science

Overall, the research carried on at the LABSS revolves around the complex dynamics of social order. A specific focus regards the dynamics and evolution of social and cultural artifacts (such as norms, institutions, reputation, authority, and their enforcing mechanisms) through and thanks to the dynamics and evolution of the mind.

The agent-based simulations developed at the laboratory are more and more anchored to real-world data on a variety of social complex phenomena, ranging from vampires’ food-sharing to human exchanges and electronic communities, from people’s behaviour to norm internalization.

LABSS research is published in highly ranked interdisciplinary journals, such as Advances in Complex Systems, Scientometrics, PlosONE, JASSS, CMOT, etc.

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