The idea of the fitness landscape can be traced back to Wright’s the work on biological evolution (1932) and was significantly broadened through the work of Kauffman (1993). Kauffman’s account, though limited to evolutionary biology, alluded to a universal applicability. It offered the prospect of a framework that could help understand how the adaptive moves of agents in search for a better ‘fit’ have a reciprocal influence on other agents. This has sparked a wide range of applications of fitness landscapes in different domains in the social and behavioral sciences. In this article we assess the extent to which fitness landscapes have been incorporated into the social and behavioral sciences, how they help progress theoretical or empirical issues in these sciences, and what to consider when making use of fitness landscapes in these sciences.
Emergence: Complexity and Organization
Department of Public Administration

Gerrits, L.M, & Marks, P.K. (2014). How fitness landscapes help further the social and behavioral sciences. Emergence: Complexity and Organization, 16(3), 1–17. Retrieved from