Year: 2009 Source: PLoS One, v.4, no.9, (September 2009), p.1-9 SIEC No: 20090752

Agent-based simulations, in combination with scan statistic methods for detecting clusters of rare events, were used to clarify the social learning processes underlying point & mass clusters. It was found that social learning between neighbouring agents did generate point clusters as predicted, although this effect was partially mimicked by homophily. The one-to-many transmission dynamics characterised by the mass media were shown to generate mass clusters but only where social learning was weak, perhaps due to prestige bias & similarity bias acting to reduce the subset of available models. Findings can help to clarify & formalise existing hypotheses & to guide future empirical work relating to real-life copycat suicides. (34 refs.)