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Modeling the effects of competing criminal gangs

OCT 21, 2022
Adapting an infectious disease model to study criminal behavior reveals competition interactions between rival gangs.
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Human social behavior is incredibly complex and nuanced, and modeling that behavior can be challenging. One potential method is to adapt existing models used in other, similar contexts. These models can be adjusted to accurately describe human behavior and can provide new insights into human nature.

For example, models of infectious disease can be applied to describe the propagation of ideas and opinions or the spread of rumors and misinformation. Pérez-Martínez et al. adapted one such model to study criminal behavior and the emergence of competing gangs.

Previous versions of the model grouped agents into one of three categories: honest, corrupted, and ostracized. Individuals can be influenced to move between these three groups as they are recruited into gangs, arrested, and rehabilitated. The authors expanded the model by creating a second corrupted group to represent a rival gang.

“After analyzing the main results in previous papers, it was time to take another step towards the modeling of corruption, including the presence of more than one behavior and the competition dynamics between them,” said author Luis Mario Floría.

Their model results in the two gangs competing over limited space and resources. Depending on the social structure of contacts, this competition decreases the influence both gangs have over the honest population, reducing the overall number of criminals and their impact on society.

“Our contribution is bringing us closer to real-world phenomena of inter-gang competition and its related crime, the importance of space in the geographical distribution of gangs, the emergence of new criminal groups, and the adequacy of different suppression strategies,” said Floría.

Source: “Emergence, survival, and segregation of competing gangs,” by H. Pérez-Martínez, F. J. Bauzá, D. Soriano-Paños, J. Gómez-Gardeñes, and L. M. Floría, Chaos (2022). The article can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0084972 .

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