The “Social Potential”, which the authors will refer to as the SP, is the name given to a technique of implementing multi-agent movement in simulations by representing behaviors, goals, and motivations as artificial social forces. These forces then determine the movement of the individual agents. Several SP models, including the Flocking, Helbing-Molnar–Farkas-Visek (HMFV), and Lakoba-Kaup-Finkelstein (LKF) models, are commonly used to describe pedestrian movement. A systematic procedure is described here, whereby one can construct and use these and other SP models. The theories behind these models are discussed along with the application of the procedure. Through the use of these techniques, it has been possible to represent schools of fish swimming, flocks of birds flying, crowds exiting rooms, crowds walking through hallways, and individuals wandering in open fields. Once one has an understanding of these models, more complex and specific scenarios could be constructed by applying additional constraints and parameters. The models along with the procedure give a guideline for understanding and implementing simulations using SP techniques.
Individuals tend to move in predictable manners due to the fact that walking in an environment becomes an automatic process where decisions are made instinctively (Helbing, 2005). People are familiar with walking and the paths they tend to follow. This fact allows for the construction of models which should represent the movement of individuals in reasonably simple terms. The same could be said for traffic and transportation movements, except that the possible movements for these are constrained more than for individuals. Nonetheless, the same techniques can be used for both systems.