AGENT-BASED MODEL OF OPINION
DYNAMICS IN SOCIAL NETWORKS
Andreas Koulouris1, Ioannis Katerelos1 and Theodore Tsekeris21Department of Psychology, Panteion University
2Centre of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE)
|INDECS 11(1), 51-70, 2013
Full text available here.
Received: 2 August 2012
This article investigates the Multiple Equilibria Regulation (MER) model, i.e., an agent-based simulation model, to represent opinion dynamics in social networks. It relies on a small set of micro-prerequisites (intra-individual balance and confidence bound), leading to emergence of (non)stationary macro-outcomes. These outcomes may refer to consensus, polarization or fragmentation of opinions about taxation (e.g., congestion pricing) or other policy measures, according to the way communication is structured. In contrast with other models of opinion dynamics, it allows for the impact of both the regulation of intra-personal discrepancy and the interpersonal variability of opinions on social learning and network dynamics. Several simulation experiments are presented to demonstrate, through the MER model, the role of different network structures (complete, star, cellular automata, small-world and random graphs) on opinion formation dynamics and the overall evolution of the system. The findings can help to identify specific topological characteristics, such as density, number of neighbourhoods and critical nodes-agents, that affect the stability and system dynamics. This knowledge can be used to better organize the information diffusion and learning in the community, enhance the predictability of outcomes and manage possible conflicts. It is shown that a small-world organization, which depicts more realistic aspects of real-life and virtual social systems, provides increased predictability and stability towards a less fragmented and more manageable grouping of opinions, compared to random networks. Such macro-level organizations may be enhanced with use of web-based technologies to increase the density of communication and public acceptability of policy measures.
agent-based models, social networks, opinion dynamics, communication topology, unpredictability
JEL: C63, D72, D74, D78, D83, D85, H30