Collaborative ResearchCollaborative Research

Active One-to-One Research Projects

Engineering Systems and Management

Influencing Collective Human Behavior Using Distributed Intelligent Systems

Professor Alex Pentland
Professor Alex Pentland

Professor Iyad Rahwan
Professor Iyad Rahwan
PI at Masdar Institute


This project aims to develop software technologies that enable influencing the collective behavior of groups of people, promoting more sustainable behavior (e.g. more efficient energy consumption).

We have invented an incentive mechanism that allows us to influence the behavior of individuals by inducing peer pressure through the social network. We specified the mechanism mathematically. We then proved that, under reasonable assumptions, this incentive mechanism is more efficient than traditional methods that only target the individual in isolation. We designed lab-based behavioral experiments that allow testing the mechanism .


The project is highly interdisciplinary, spanning game theory, network theory, computer science, and social science. It uses techniques ranging from theoretical modeling to system development to empirical experimentation.

This work complements work on the hardware aspects of smart power grids at Masdar Institute and will help establish the Institute as a multidisciplinary hub for the study of smart power grids and sustainable behavior. Moreover, there will be ample opportunities for eventually applying these technologies in the emerging Masdar City. In addition, the project will give rise to many related research projects that Masdar Institute students can work on, once the main framework is in place.