“OPINION DYNAMICS, COLLECTIVE ACTION AND ABRUPT SOCIAL CHANGES:
THE ROLE OF PREFERENCE FALSIFICATION AND SOCIAL NETWORKS” (DOACSA)
General and specific objectives
The overall objective of this project is to develop a theoretical model grounded in the methodology of ABM, which, unlike other models, is empirically anchored in real data mainly from surveys and experimental sessions and can contribute to a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of public opinion formation. More specifically, the project aims to explore the role that preference falsification, rationality, social contagion, social norms, and emotions may play in these dynamics and how they can lead to abrupt and unexpected social changes.
The first objective is to program a computational model capable of incorporating real data. These data are of two types: firstly, data relating to the agents in the model and, secondly, data relating to the topology of the relationships (i.e., the type of social network) by linking certain individuals to others.
The second objective of the project concerns the systematic exploration of and identification through multivariate statistical techniques of the various types of outcomes, namely the unanimity of true opinions, the unanimity of false opinions, polarization, or cycles of preference revelation, thus delimiting the spectrum of empirically possible results. A fundamental element in this analysis is to study the stability or resilience of these states to exogenous shocks.
Finally, the third objective is to apply the model outcomes to the analysis of real processes. Kuran’s classical models also taught us that when opinion formation processes are affected by preference falsification dynamics, this can eventually lead to situations of plural ignorance with the potential to trigger abrupt social changes such as the Arab Spring, the fall of the Berlin Wall, or the Russian and French revolutions.