Living in Novaland: can we Simulate the Experience of States and Public
Policies in an Artificial Online State?
Achim Goerres, University of Duisburg-Essen
What if we could experimentally manipulate all characteristics of states and
public policies and estimate their effects on citizens? This presentation
puts forward the first evidence from a pilot of Novaland. Novaland is an
artificial liberal democracy that only exists online and that has
characteristics realistically drawn from German, Romanian and US contexts.
The pilot consists of an experimental online platform based on text, images
and audio in which volunteers (a) are surveyed before they go into the
experience, (b) are randomly assigned to different experiences, such as
defined by income, quality of government or state corruption, (c) interact
with each other simultaneously and (d) thereby co-create collective
decisions, such as elections or donation pools, that then determine the
course of Novaland and thereby the subsequent experiences of the
The pilot gives us many insights into the usefulness of such full
experiential simulations in the social sciences. Can this technically and
organizationally be done? Do participants behave in an externally valid
manner? Do they behave sincerely? What is the potential of such an approach
for finding causal effects?
The project is financed by a Consolidator Grant of the European Research
Council. More details about the project at https://bit.ly/politsolid and
about the presenter at www.achimgoerres.de