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Strengthening Theoretical Testing in Criminology Using Agent-based Modeling

Johnson, SD; Groff, E; (2014) Strengthening Theoretical Testing in Criminology Using Agent-based Modeling. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency , 51 (4) pp. 509-525. 10.1177/0022427814531490. Green open access

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Abstract

Objectives: The Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency (JRCD) has published important contributions to both criminological theory and associated empirical tests. In this article, we consider some of the challenges associated with traditional approaches to social science research, and discuss a complementary approach that is gaining popularity—agent-based computational modeling—that may offer new opportunities to strengthen theories of crime and develop insights into phenomena of interest. Method: Two literature reviews are completed. The aim of the first is to identify those articles published in JRCD that have been the most influential and to classify the theoretical perspectives taken. The second is intended to identify those studies that have used an agent-based model (ABM) to examine criminological theories and to identify which theories have been explored. Results: Ecological theories of crime pattern formation have received the most attention from researchers using ABMs, but many other criminological theories are amenable to testing using such methods. Conclusion: Traditional methods of theory development and testing suffer from a number of potential issues that a more systematic use of ABMs—not without its own issues—may help to overcome. ABMs should become another method in the criminologists toolbox to aid theory testing and falsification.

Type: Article
Title: Strengthening Theoretical Testing in Criminology Using Agent-based Modeling
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0022427814531490
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0022427814531490
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2014. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (http://www.uk.sagepub.com/aboutus/openaccess.htm).
Keywords: agent-based models; theory testing; empirical methods;
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1430872
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