Contrast or assimilation: choosing camps in simple or realistic modeling

  • Corinne Coen


The contrast effect is a psychological phenomenon in which people exaggerate their differences. When making social comparisons, people cope with the discomforts associated with negative comparisons by criticizing others and splitting into smaller groups of similar others or by assimilation, depending on whether they perceive themselves as the member of a majority or minority group, respectively. This contrast or assimilation phenomena can explain the exaggeration of differences among computational simulation scholars. Those exaggerations are discussed in this paper as well as some realistic reasons for differences. Recognition of our status as minority group members and the virtues of assimilation and mutual support are advocated.


Contrast effect Identification Computational simulation Emerging discipline 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Axelrod R (1984) The evolution of cooperation. Basic Books, New York Google Scholar
  2. Brewer MB, Weber JG (1994) Self-evaluation effects of interpersonal versus intergroup social comparison. J Personal Soc Psychol 66(2):268–270 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Carley KM (2002) Inhibiting adaptation. In: Proceedings of the 2002 command and control research and technology symposium. Conference held in Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA. Evidence Based Research, Vienna, VA, 2002 Google Scholar
  4. Carley K, Fridsma D, Casman E, Yahja A, Altman N, Chen LC, Kaminsky B, Nave D (2004) BioWar: scalable agent-based model of bioattacks. IEEE Trans Syst Man Cybern A Google Scholar
  5. Epstein J, Axtel R (1996) Growing artificial societies: social science from the bottom up. Brookings Institution Press, Washington Google Scholar
  6. Festinger LA (1954) Theory of social comparison processes. Human Relat 114–140 Google Scholar
  7. Maritan CA, Coen CA (2004) An agent-based model of investing in capabilities: processes, decisions, and performances. Published in the best paper Proceedings, 2004 academy of management conference Google Scholar
  8. McGrath JE (1981) Dilemmatics: The study of research choices and dilemmas. Am Behav Sci 25(2):154–179 Google Scholar
  9. Mussweiler T, Rüter K, Epstude K (2004) The ups and downs of social comparison: Mechanisms of assimilation and contrast. J Personal Soc Psychol 87:832–844 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Turner JC, Hogg MA, Oakes PJ, Reicher S, Wetherell MS (1987) Rediscovering the social group: A self-categorization theory. Basil Blackwell, Oxford Google Scholar
  11. Waddell P, Borning A, Noth M, Freier MN, Becke M, Ulfarsson G (2003) Microsimulation of urban development and location choices: design and implementation of urbanSim. Netw Spat Econ 3(1):43–67 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SUNY at BuffaloBuffaloUSA

Personalised recommendations