University of Cambridge > > Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) > Political Polarization, Social Norms, and Sorting: An Agent-based Social Sampling Model

Political Polarization, Social Norms, and Sorting: An Agent-based Social Sampling Model

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Yara Kyrychenko.

In person only

I will describe a cognitive model of social influence and apply it to several social network phenomena including polarization, social contagion, and sorting/issue alignment. We use agent-based modelling to link individual-level and network-level effects. Social norms and individuals’ private attitudes are assumed to be represented as distributions rather than single points. People located within a social network observe the behaviour of their network neighbours and hence infer the social distribution of particular attitudes and behaviours. It is assumed that (a) people dislike behaving in ways that are extreme within their neighbourhood social norm (social extremeness aversion assumption), and hence tend to conform and (b) people prefer to behave consistently with their own underlying attitudes (authenticity preference assumption) hence minimizing dissonance. Expressed attitudes and behaviour reflect a utility-maximizing compromise between these opposing principles. A number of polarisation-related social network phenomena emerge in the model. Sorting (increased correlation of attitudes) is shown to emerge only when agents seek to differentiate themselves from an outgroup as well as align with an ingroup.

This talk is in person only and hosted by David Young and Lee De-Wit.

This talk is part of the Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) series.

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