Traits, Needs, Stressors, Goals, and Activities

Today was a brainstorming, research, and design day. Now that I've got a rudimentary AI loop running, I want to see if I can have it simulate something more complex than a single need replenishment.

My first instinct was to start looking at personality classification. Were there common traits that I could sort out from a larger list? Was there some way I could describe a personality in code based on a limited set of attributes?

I dug into some old RPGs, games, as well as some psych papers to see how personalities have been classified by others. And I ended up with a pretty long list of traits. Probably ~75, all told.

However, these traits often overlapped, or were opposites of each other. Optimism and pessimism, for example, describe two values on the same scale. The same could be said for stoic and bad-tempered. I decided to try and lump these all together into as few categories as possible, and came up with this list:

Spoiler: Highlight to view
  • Addictive
  • Motivated
  • Judgmental
  • Self-Control
  • Sadism
  • Empathy
  • Charisma
  • Fear
  • Agreeable
  • Honesty
  • Envy
  • Greed
  • Trust
  • Hedonist
  • Pride
  • Decisiveness
  • Masochistic
  • Melancholy
  • Optimistic
  • Organized
  • Altruism
  • Spiritual
  • Forgiving
  • Sentimental
  • Inquisitive
  • Creative?

Note that some traits live in multiple categories (e.g. paranoid is a trait that could both be Fear and Trust related). And some of these may be worth merging. Some are even questionably related to personality, like creativity. Is that a personal trait? Or more a measure of intelligence? Or even preferred subject matter?

More to the point, however, I started to realize that this kind of list doesn't paint a whole picture. In particular, as time goes by, none of these traits really changes. One doesn't get more sadistic as time passes. Or more forgiving. These things just describe how we might respond to outside stimuli. The events in our lives might change these traits slowly, but we don't change who we are without drastic events.

That got me thinking about outside stimuli, and stress. What sorts of things cause an emotional response in people? Looking at some literature, suggested categories of stressors included:

Spoiler: Highlight to view
  • violence
  • unnatural (unexplained phenomena)
  • isolation
  • helplessness
  • self (going against principles)
  • perfectionism
  • fear
  • financial
  • family
  • friends
  • career
  • spiritual
  • time
  • anticipation

Looking these over, there's lots of overlap. I mean, fear can be cited as a main component of many of these, all by itself. This reminded me that Maslow's Hierarchy includes psychogenic needs, too. And in fact, there are some nice expanded versions of his needs list which show more detail.

His list isn't perfect, though. At least not in my opinion. It lacks certain distinctions and even categories. It could be that his categories are just too broad for my taste. So I did some more research on other needs models, such as Attachment Theory, Manfred Max-Neef's Needs Model, and Murray's Needs. I also checked out a few pop-sci articles. And I came up with this list of psychogenic needs:

Spoiler: Highlight to view
  • Security
  • Friendship
  • Intimacy
  • Family
  • Sex
  • Esteem (Respect from others)
  • Self-Respect
  • Autonomy
  • Altruism
  • Privacy
  • Achievement
  • Meaning

Now we're getting somewhere. These are starting to resemble stats like hunger, temperature, and thirst, except for the mind. I could see these having high and low values, and more importantly, values that change over time and based on events. AIs could start to crave friendship after being without friends for too long. They could be overwhelmed and need privacy. They could act out when seeking more respect from others. They could even be sex-starved.

This sounds a bit more fun, and easier to understand, and I think I'm going to start working on some models for base stat values, how they change over time (in isolation), and how certain interactions can affect them.

We might run into some tricky bits when it comes to measuring what a friendship is, how achievements are achieved, or how respect is given, but this is getting at the root of the AI sim. Should be some interesting times ahead!

Have a good weekend, all!


Magi's picture

I'd like to see something like "personality" modifiers I.e. an introvert character would prefer being alone (need more privacy and maybe autonomy, less friendship and intimacy and maybe less sex?) while an extrovert character would like having more friends. Things like that, after all, everyone has different needs.

The Science&Sorcery Mod deal with nanobots. travel to the astral realm.

dcfedor's picture

Yeah, me too. I'd like for each NPC to have different needs and preferences, so that managing a crew is also about finding the right mix of people and making sure they don't kill each other :)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games