Opinion Fluctuations and Disagreement in Social Network
Author(s)Acemoglu, Daron; Como, Giacomo; Fagnani, Fabio; Ozdaglar, Asuman
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We study a stochastic gossip model of continuous opinion dynamics in a society consisting of two types of agents: regular agents, who update their beliefs according to information that they receive from their social neighbors; and stubborn agents, who never update their opinions and might represent leaders, political parties or media sources attempting to influence the beliefs in the rest of the society. When the society contains stubborn agents with different opinions, opinion dynamics never lead to a consensus (among the regular agents). Instead, beliefs in the society almost surely fail to converge, and the belief of each regular agent converges in law to a non-degenerate random variable. The model thus generates long-run disagreement and continuous opinion fluctuations. The structure of the social network and the location of stubborn agents within it shape opinion dynamics. When the society is “highly fluid,” meaning that the mixing time of the random walk on the graph describing the social network is small relative to (the inverse of) the relative size of the linkages to stubborn agents, the ergodic beliefs of most of the agents concentrate around a certain common value. We also show that under additional conditions, the ergodic beliefs distribution becomes “approximately chaotic”, meaning that the variance of the aggregate belief of the society vanishes in the large population limit while individual opinions still fluctuate significantly.
Cambridge, MA: Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Working paper, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Economics;10-14
disagreement, learning, opinion information, social networks, stochastic gossip
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