Project`s description

SEMIRA: Simulating the Emergent Impact of Regulation Across Cultures is a two year scientific project aimed at modelling the effects of culture in the implementation of new regulatory policies across countries through the use of agent-based social simulations.

SEMIRA was supported by the Complexity-NET European network under the initiative Interdisciplinary Challenges for Complexity Science. Funding is provided by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the Italian National Research Council (CNR) and by the Portuguese Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT).

The project is finished. Read the final report, updated 2015.

Scientific objectives

The main objective of the project is to develop a theoretical framework to study the interaction between emerging normative behaviour and new regulations in the context of different cultures. The goal is to support the preparation of new regulations in different countries and for different cultures.

The framework will integrate the following elements:

As an example, the project focuses on the ban against smoking in public places, intended to reduce exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) issued by several European countries in the past few years. The changes introduced by the new regulations are used to define virtual scenarios to test the performances of the computational models developed by the SEMIRA partners.


Two types of agent-based simulation tools will be developed based on the framework in order to put the theory to practice. One tool will concentrate on validating the agent models of normative behaviour with actual people. This tool will consist of a virtual environment where people can interact with artificial agents that take both emerged and imposed norms into account as well as using the cultural context to make their decisions. The feedback of experimental users on these interactions will be used to update the agent models.

The other tool will use the validated normative and cultural models to do large scale simulations investigating emergent behaviours. These simulations will be used to examine the promulgation of a new regulation into populations of artificial agents endowed with different cultural traits and social norms.

Scientific consortium

Wageningen University, NL
PI: Gert Jan Hofstede (coordinator)
Utrecht Univerisity, NL
PI: Frank Dignum
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, IT
PI: Rosaria Conte
Istituto Superior Tecnico, PT
PI: Ana Paiva

References, publications and dissemination events

See the full list