Networks of influence: transmission of information in systems of cooperative decision makers.

Malgorzata Turalska, Duke (Physics)
The surprising social phenomena of the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street movement posit the question of whether the active role of committed groups may produce political changes of significant importance. Under what conditions are the convictions of a minority going to dominate the future direction of a society? To address this issue, we study a cooperative decision making (CDM) model, adopting a minimal fundamental assumption that people make decisions by imitating the behavior and actions of others. The CDM model generates consensus among the individuals within a model society through a phase-transition process. However, the global consensus state is not permanent and times of crisis occur when there is an ambiguity concerning a given social issue. Surprisingly, the instances of crisis are characterized by an increased correlation between the members of the society, which facilitates the transmission of the opinion of a small committed minority, leading to substantial changes in social consensus. To further explore the consequences of the presence of correlations extending across the entire system, we study the conditions under which network of individuals responds to an external source of information. We observe that the most efficient information transmission is closely connected to the criticality phenomenon. Finally, we discuss how the influence that the society exerts on an individual can be analytically approached with the help of fractional calculus.
November, 10 2014 | 12:30 - 14:00 | Gross Hall 230E

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