Beyond being in the lab: Using multi-agent modeling to isolate competing hypotheses

Ning Nan, Erik W. Johnston, Judith S. Olson, Nathan Bos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

9 Scopus citations


In studies of virtual teams, it is difficult to determine pure effects of geographic isolation and uneven communication technology. We developed a multi-agent computer model in NetLogo to complement laboratory-based organizational simulations [3]. In the lab, favoritism among collocated team members (collocators) appeared to increase their performance. However, in the computer simulation, when controlled for communication delay, in-group favoritism had a detrimental effect on the performance of collocators. This suggested that the advantage of collocators shown in the lab was due to synchronous communication, not favoritism. The canceling-out effects of in-group bias and communication delay explained why many studies did not see performance difference between collocated and remote team members. The multi-agent modeling in this case proved its value by both clarifying previous laboratory findings and guiding design of future experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI'05 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI EA'05
Number of pages4
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes
EventConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI EA 2005 - Portland, OR, United States
Duration: Apr 2 2005Apr 7 2005

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


OtherConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI EA 2005
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPortland, OR


  • Computer supported cooperative work
  • Computer-mediated communication
  • In-group favoritism
  • Multiagent modeling
  • Virtual team

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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