Understanding the Geographic Dynamics of Goal-Directed Social Behaviors




Barker, Alec Dayhaw

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



No fundamental empirical research exists to describe the goal-directed behavior of teams in geographic space. This dissertation describes a basic research project that produces new metrics, hypotheses, and distributions of observations about the geographic behaviors of discrete social networks or teams pursuing collective objectives. The motivation is to propose theories that explain and predict how illicit teams - such as groups involved in terrorism, smuggling, and other criminal or politically subversive activities - move and communicate. The research design uses network-based stochastic geosimulation, formal experimental design, and spatiotemporal statistics to perform an experimental analysis of small team behaviors. The project produces theoretical and randomized data about the times, locations, and message traffic of simulated players and teams engaged in 1.11 million repetitions of pursuit-and-evasion, a simple game akin to hide-and-seek. This computer simulation-based project will serve as a basis for future mixed methods research employing human subjects in laboratory and full-scale instances of the pursuit-and-evasion game. Furthermore, the research approach will support future extensions to understand not only teams, but also multiteam systems. This approach draws from extant research, and applies statistics, methods, and theoretical frameworks from among multiple disciplines including geography, industrial and organizational psychology, network science, operations research, and strategic studies. Development of reliable theories about the geographic patterns of team behaviors will support further basic research as well as applied research in societal instability, criminology, radicalism, social psychology, and simulation of stochastic human geographic processes, ultimately leading to improvements in civil services, social welfare, and public safety.


This work was embargoed by the author and will not be publicly available until May 2020.


Behavioral Geography, Games, Geosimulation, Mobile Devices, Movement Analysis