Norm Emergence in Multi-Agent Societies

Norm Emergence in Multi-Agent Societies

Bastin Tony Roy Savarimuthu (University of Otago, New Zealand), Maryam Purvis (University of Otago, New Zealand) and Stephen Cranefield (University of Otago, New Zealand)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-576-4.ch012
OnDemand PDF Download:
No Current Special Offers


Norms are shared expectations of behaviours that exist in human societies. Norms help societies by increasing the predictability of individual behaviours and by improving cooperation and collaboration among members. Norms have been of interest to multi-agent system researchers, as software agents intend to follow certain norms. But, owing to their autonomy, agents sometimes violate norms, which needs monitoring. In order to build robust MAS that are norm compliant and systems that evolve and adapt norms dynamically, the study of norms is crucial. Our objective in this chapter is to propose a mechanism for norm emergence in artificial agent societies and provide experimental results. We also study the role of autonomy and visibility threshold of an agent in the context of norm emergence.
Chapter Preview


In this section, we describe different types of norms and the treatment of norms in multi-agent systems. We also describe the work related to norm emergence.

Types of Norms

Due to multidisciplinary interest in norms, several definitions for norms exist. Habermas (1985), one of the renowned sociologists, identified norm regulated actions as one of the four action patterns in human behaviour. A norm to him means fulfilling a generalized expectation of behaviour, which is a widely accepted definition for social norms. Researchers have divided norms into different categories. Tuomela (1995) has categorized norms into the following categories.

  • r-norms (rule norms)

  • s-norms (social norms)

  • m-norms (moral norms)

  • p-norms (prudential norms)

Rule norms are imposed by an authority based on an agreement between the members (e.g., one has to pay taxes). Social norms apply to large groups such as a whole society (e.g., one should not litter). Moral norms appeal to one’s conscience (e.g., one should not steal or accept bribe). Prudential norms are based on rationality (e.g., one ought to maximize one’s expected utility). When members of a society violate the societal norms, they may be punished. Many social scientists have studied why norms are adhered. Some of the reasons for norm adherence include:

  • Fear of authority;

  • Rational appeal of the norms; and

  • Feelings such as shame, embarrassment and guilt that arise because of nonadherence.

Elster (1989) categorizes norms into consumption norms (e.g., manners of dress), behaviour norms (e.g., norm against cannibalism), norms of reciprocity (e.g., gift-giving norm), norms of cooperation (e.g., voting and tax compliance) and so forth.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: