Zipf's Law Organizes a Psychiatric Ward Journal Articles uri icon

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  • We developed a simple mathematical model based on power law fitting for describing the interactions among patients from a psychiatric ward. First we defined a protocol in order to evaluate in a quantative way the state of the patient, measuring sociability/restlessness through a daily analysis of the behavior and attributing a grade for both parameters, per patient. The grades were checked by two different specialists and a table of incidence was constructed. This table generated power laws for the grades and their variations. We concluded that power laws, like Zipf's law, may be good to explain the data, showing a self-organizing process that indicates a strong interaction component determining the whole behavior. We would like to see more data being collected, in other centers and among normal populations, trying to quantify complex collective behavioral phenomena using self-organizing criticality laws.


  • Piqueira, JRC
  • Monteiro, LHA
  • de Magalhães, TMC
  • Ramos, RT
  • Sassi, Roberto
  • Cruz, EG

publication date

  • June 1999