Information Flows and Networks II

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Changing The Informational Scope

Note: in order to run the simulation referred to in this slide, go here, to the Java Applet version. You will be directed to download the latest version of the Java plug-in.

Our goal is to present a compelling framework that explains how an individual's cognitive limitations may lead to informational overload. Let us describe the simulation we have created to this end, as well as the real-life scenario it aims to represent.

A single Learner lives in a world of 14 behavioral choices. Her awareness spans only a fraction of these options - the ones she is connected to via bright-blue lines. At every time step, she picks the option believed to be best among the ones within her informational scope, and reaps that option's benefit.

Two types of events provide the simulation's dynamic backdrop. Every option's true payoff mutates slightly at all times, challenging our Learner to keep abreast with the current situation. The Learner, though, has a limited amount of cognitive resources available to her, and manages to synchronize her perceived payoff value with the actual payoff value for no more than 7 behavioral options during a single time step. The actual and perceived payoffs of every option are designated by its red and blue pie slices, respectively.

Alter the Learner's informational scope via the "Number of Connections" slider. Then run the simulation for a hundred steps by pressing the "Go" button. You should see a noticeable change in the Recent Payoff of the Learner's Information, displayed as a dark-red line graph. For an orderly exploration of the informational scope's effect, see the upcoming slide.

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