A FORMAL MODEL FOR POLARIZATION UNDER CONFIRMATION BIAS IN SOCIAL NETWORKS

Mário S. Alvim, Bernardo Amorim, Sophia Knight, Santiago Quintero, Frank Valencia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We describe a model for polarization in multi-agent systems based on Esteban and Ray’s standard family of polarization measures from economics. Agents evolve by updating their beliefs (opinions) based on an underlying influence graph, as in the standard DeGroot model for social learning, but under a confirmation bias; i.e., a discounting of opinions of agents with dissimilar views. We show that even under this bias polarization eventually vanishes (converges to zero) if the influence graph is strongly-connected. If the influence graph is a regular symmetric circulation, we determine the unique belief value to which all agents converge. Our more insightful result establishes that, under some natural assumptions, if polarization does not eventually vanish then either there is a disconnected subgroup of agents, or some agent influences others more than she is influenced. We also prove that polarization does not necessarily vanish in weakly-connected graphs under confirmation bias. Furthermore, we show how our model relates to the classic DeGroot model for social learning. We illustrate our model with several simulations of a running example about polarization over vaccines and of other case studies. The theoretical results and simulations will provide insight into the phenomenon of polarization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18:1-18:38
JournalLogical Methods in Computer Science
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Logical Methods in Computer Science. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Confirmation bias
  • Multi-Agent Systems
  • Polarization
  • Social Networks

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