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Magyar Fellow (1 September 2004 - 31 January 2005)
My main research objective for the period spent at NIAS was to develop a theoretical model and an agent-based simulation for the study of tolerance and contact in inter-group conflict. In particular, my study investigated situations where strong social control is not beneficial for the community as it triggers inter-group conflict. In a dynamic perspective, inter-group relations have feedback effects on the social network of individuals. Individuals strengthen ties that carry positive social rewards and weaken ties that are associated negative experiences. This results in the segregation of social contacts that in turn increases the likelihood of participating in violent encounters. In search of ways to stop this trend, my research focused on a structural version of the contact hypothesis. In other words what conditions encourage building interpersonal ties to out-group individuals in times of conflict and how can this contribute to the resolution of inter-group conflict. First results suggest only limited success resulting from tolerant tie-formation. The viability of tolerance depends on the exact network structure, especially on the neighbourhood structure of newly established contacts and on individual attitudes.
During my stay, I also made progress on other related projects. I applied the theoretical model to an analysis of trench warfare in World War I. I also worked on analysing the negative effects of social control in collective action situations, and designed an agent-based simulation that analyses the evolutionary success of proximity-based altruism.
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