Zealots in the mean-field noisy voter model

Khalil, Nagi; San Miguel, Maxi; Toral, Raul
Physical Review E 97, 012310 (2018)

The influence of zealots on the noisy voter model is studied theoretically and numerically at the mean-field
level. The noisy voter model is a modification of the voter model that includes a second mechanism for transitions between states: Apart from the original herding processes, voters may change their states because of an intrinsic noisy-in-origin source. By increasing the importance of the noise with respect to the herding, the system exhibits a finite-size phase transition from a quasiconsensus state, where most of the voters share the same opinion, to one with coexistence. Upon introducing some zealots, or voters with fixed opinion, the latter scenario may change significantly. We unveil new situations by carrying out a systematic numerical and analytical study of a fully connected network for voters, but allowing different voters to be directly influenced by different zealots. We show that this general system is equivalent to a system of voters without zealots, but with heterogeneous values of their parameters characterizing herding and noisy dynamics. We find excellent agreement between our analytical and numerical results. Noise and herding or zealotry acting together in the voter model yields a nontrivial mixture of the scenarios with the two mechanisms acting alone: It represents a situation where the global-local (noise-herding) competition is coupled to a symmetry breaking (zealots). In general, the zealotry enhances the effective noise of the system, which may destroy the original quasiconsensus state, and can introduce a bias towards the opinion of the majority of zealots, hence breaking the symmetry of the system and giving rise to new phases. In the most general case we find two different transitions: a discontinuous transition from an symmetric bimodal phase to an extreme asymmetric phase and a second continuous transition from the extreme asymmetric phase to an asymmetric unimodal phase.

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