A study of artificial society based on social uncertainty by Agent-Based Simulation

According to studies of the Japan-U.S. comparison about trust and cooperation [1] [2], the Japanese seems not to trust another person than an American. By “trust” here, I mean that we can trust strangers which we do not have information about. In Japanese society, they often think that it is important to take care of and hold on connections between themselves and particular people. Because they think that if they use such connections positively, they can get special treatment and maximize self-interest. At the same time, in the American society, they do not hang on to such connections as much as in Japanese society. For example, when Japanese look for jobs, they are likely to depend on their or their familiar person’s particular connection to the employer. But when Americans are in the same circumstances, they would try to get recruiting ad and call for employer’s office, or they may try to use connections, but these are not strong ones, such as ones of a friend of a friend of a friend. This is introduced in “Strength of Weak Ties” written by Granovetter, M. For the record, the above about Japan is a little old story. After rapid and widespread diffusion of the Internet in Japan, the Japanese use recruiting ads positively. Nevertheless, many Japanese would think it is very important to use connections currently.
According to the paper [3], Japanese society is structured with “security”, not with “trust”. We can distinguish “security” and “trust” by extent of social uncertainty influence. Please refer to the Appendix for “social uncertainty”. If social uncertainty influence is strong in a society, it is defined as a “trust” society. And if social uncertainty influence is weak in a society, it is defined as a “security” society.
Why did Japanese society become a security society? Why did American one do a trust one? Why did such a difference arise between Japan and U.S? We can guess this problem is structured with many elements, such as geographical, religious, historical, cultural one and so on. But if we consider these all elements, it would be too difficult for us to analyze the problem and explain the reason. So I will regard the problem as simpler one, compose artificial societies on computers, analyze these, and bring out reasons for above questions.

Social uncertainty [4]
Social uncertainty is ubiquitous in human society. Whenever we interact with others we face the problem of social uncertainty. We engage in social interactions with others to improve our own welfare, material or psycho-logical; however, in interacting with others we make ourselves vulnerable. We seek to improve our welfare while taking the risk of incurring costs. We use the term “social uncertainty” to refer to the risk of being exploited in social interactions. That is, social uncertainty is defined as existing for an actor when (1) his or her interaction partner has an incentive to act in a way that imposes costs (or harm) on the actor and (2) the actor does not have enough information to predict if the partner will in fact act in such a way.

1. Cook, K., Yamagishi, T., Chesire, C., Cooper, R., Matsuda, M. & Mashima, R. 2003, Trust building via risk taking: a cross-societal experiment.
2. Rie Mashima, Toshio Yamagishi, Michael Macy 信頼と協力に関する日米行動比較(Behavioral comparison between Japan and U.S. about trust and cooperation), 2003
3. Toshio Yamagishi 信頼の構造 心と社会の進化ゲーム(Structure of Trust: Evolutionary Game about Heart and Society ) 1998
4. Toshio Yamaghishi, Karen S. Cook, Motoki Watabe, Uncertainty, Trust, and Commitment Formation in the United States and Japan, American Journal of Sociology

Friday, 9 October, 2009 - 12:30 to 14:00
Akinobu Sakata (Tokyo Institute of Technology)