A Psychologically-Motivated Model of Opinion Change with Applications to American Politics

Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 2017

Peter Duggins

Abstract

Agent-based models are versatile tools for studying how societal opinion change, including political polarization and cultural diffusion, emerges from individual behavior. This study expands agents’ psychological realism using empirically-motivated rules governing interpersonal influence, commitment to previous beliefs, and conformity in social contexts. Computational experiments establish that these extensions produce three novel results: (a) sustained “strong” diversity of opinions across society, (b) opinion subcultures, and (c) pluralistic ignorance. These phenomena arise from a combination of agents’ intolerance, susceptibility and conformity, with extremist agents and social networks playing important roles. The distribution and dynamics of simulated opinions reproduce two empirical datasets on Americans' political opinions.

Full text links

PDF

External link

Journal Article

Journal
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation
Number
1
Volume
20

Cite

Plain text

BibTeX