A Multi-Agent Based Simulation Model of Consumer Behaviour - Food Choice and Cooking Attitudes During the Coronavirous (Covid-19) Outbreak
Purpose: The primary scientific goal of the article is to present the results of research which aimed to build a multi-agent simulation model of consumer behavior during the coronavirus Covid-19 epidemic. The research investigation concerned finding an answer to the question: to what extent did consumer eating behavior change during the pandemic, and how did the risk of becoming overweight and obesity increase? Design/Methodology/Approach: To gain deeper insight into consumer eating behavior amid the Covid-19 outbreak, a survey on food choice and cooking attitudes was carried out in the West Pomeranian region of Poland. Four hundred twenty respondents took part in the survey. The data obtained was used to elaborate a multi-agent model created by the author and the execution of simulation experiments. A multi-agent-based modeling and simulation (MABS) method was used to build the model. Findings: The research shows that among the individuals participating in the study, three types of eating attitudes were distinguished, restrained eaters (41.9%), emotional eaters (34.8%), and external eaters (23.3%). These three groups reported different behavior, highlighting, for example, an increase in ready-made and ultra-processed food consumption within the non-emotionally responsive group. Empirical data was used to develop an agent-based simulation model that combined different eating styles represented by consumers with their food and cooking habits to simulate consumer behavior during the Covid-19 epidemic. Practical Implications: The findings could be helpful in support of practical and social solutions for the identification of excessive weight and obesity risk factors and the preparation of strategies aimed at reducing the influence of pandemics on consumer eating behavior and increasing consumer awareness on this issue. Originality/Value: The study can stimulate sustainable consumption and consumer behavior, especially in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic.