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Jessica B's picture

Human behavior and rules

I mentioned this a long time ago, briefly, but I think it would be useful to restate it. I took a social psychology class recently that, among other things, talked about predicting human behavior. And, to a certain extent, it is "emergent." According to a poll, Jessica thinks that regular exercise is important to good health. Does this mean that she exercises every day? Well, looking closely at Jessica, we realize that she is a computer science major and spends the vast majority of her time in front of the computer. Also, she tends to go to sleep at an excessively late hour so when she's not in front of the computer she's usually napping. Plus, she's rather lazy and would rather focus on eating well for her health than exercising. This relates back to emergent systems because we can't just predict Jessica's behavior by rules (poll results). We have to see how those rules interact with other rules (major, motivation, amount of sleep) to really get a good idea of how Jessica will act.

So yes, I agree that rules, no matter how universal (and possibly because of how universal) they are cannot accurately predict things such as human behavior. There's too much else going on and that interaction is what generates the complexity.

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