Opinion dynamics in systems of interacting agents: polarization vs consensus

We investigate the phenomenon of public opinion polarization by means of agent based models.  Each agent has an opinion orientation on a given issue (in favor vs against) that is updated when interacting with other agents.  The aim of this study is to explore different mechanisms of social interaction, such as persuasion and social pressure, which may induce a state of polarization in the population that is characterized by the development of two groups with antagonistic opinions.  Starting from a uniform distribution of opinions on a given spectrum, we find that the system may reach three possible different states: a centralized state where most agents have moderate opinions, a polarized state in which agents adopt extreme and opposite opinions, and a consensus state where all agents share the same opinion.

 



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