Modeling agents based on aspiration adaptation theory

Avi Rosenfeld, Sarit Kraus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Creating agents that realistically simulate and interact with people is an important problem. In this paper we present strong empirical evidence that such agents should be based on bounded rationality, and specifically on key elements from Aspiration Adaptation Theory (AAT). First, we analyzed the strategies people described they would use to solve two relatively basic optimization problems involving one and two parameters. Second, we studied the agents a different group of people wrote to solve these same problems. We then studied two realistic negotiation problems involving five and six parameters. Again, first we studied the negotiation strategies people used when interacting with other people. Then we studied two state of the art automated negotiation agents and negotiation sessions between these agents and people. We found that in both the optimizing and negotiation problems the overwhelming majority of automated agents and people used key elements from AAT, even when optimal solutions, machine learning techniques for solving multiple parameters, or bounded techniques other than AAT could have been implemented. We discuss the implications of our findings including suggestions for designing more effective agents for game and simulation environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-254
Number of pages34
JournalAutonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements We would like to acknowledge the many productive conversations and visits with Prof. Reinhard Selten, Dr. Martin Hohnisch, and Dr. Sabine Pittnauer of the University of Bonn. We would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their comments, as well as Yael Ejgenberg, Ron Adany, Yosi Ben-Agu, Roni Toledano, Anat Sevet, and Yael Blumberg for judging the agents in Sect. 4. This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under grant #0705587. Sarit Kraus is also affiliated with UMIACS. A preliminary version of this paper with a subset of these results was published in IJCAI 2009.


  • Agent simulations
  • Bounded rationality
  • Human-agent mixed systems


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