Consensus, polarisation and coexistence in a continuous opinion dynamics model with quenched disorder

Baron, Joseph William
Submitted (2021)

A general model of opinion dynamics is introduced in which each individual's opinion is measured on a bounded continuous spectrum. Each opinion is influenced heterogeneously by every other opinion in the population. It is demonstrated that consensus, polarisation and a spread of moderate opinions are all possible within this model. Using dynamic mean-field theory, we are able to identify the statistical features of the interactions between individuals that give rise to each of the aforementioned emergent phenomena. The nature of the transitions between each of the observed macroscopic states is also studied. It is demonstrated that heterogeneity of interactions between individuals can lead to polarisation, that mostly antagonistic or contrarian interactions can promote consensus at a moderate opinion, and that mostly reinforcing interactions encourage the majority to take an extreme opinion.

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