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Title: A Model of Segregation: The Effect of Zealotry and Homophily on Opinion Dynamics
Authors: Magalie, Andreea
Advisors: Levin, Simon
Fickenscher, Jon
Department: Mathematics
Class Year: 2018
Abstract: The social network describing all interactions among people shapes the opinion dynamics both at a local and global scale. In today’s societies, individuals are more receptive to others with similar opinions and avoid agents with different ones. This process is called homophily and is further amplified by the presence of zealots. Zealots are inflexible individuals that resist changing their opinion over time, thus having a significant effect on group consensus. This behavior greatly impacts social issues that require a substantial personal contribution, such as religion or politics. In this paper, we present a political model of opinion dynamics that accounts for both homophily and zealotry. Numerical and analytical results support the idea that a dominating party will gain further advantage from the inherent segregated structure of current social networks. Our results indicate that even though broadly-targeting zealots are most efficient in spreading an opinion, more extreme ones targeting a narrow subpopulation can provide similar benefits due to the segregation they are inducing for their own party.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Mathematics, 1934-2020

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