Network Models of Minority Opinion Spreading

Monday, July 14, 2014: 7:10 PM
Room: 416
Distributed Paper
Javier ALVAREZ-GALVEZ , Social Sciences, Universidad Loyola Andalucia, Sevilla, Spain
The shaping of public opinion through process of social interaction has been subject of significant interest in social sciences. At present, this topic has gained especial relevance due to the proliferation of online social media such as Twitter, Facebook or Youtube, and rising social movements related with the use of these platforms (e.g. Arab revolts, May 15th, Occupy Wall Street, etc.). Despite there are different models in literature that analyze the dynamic of opinion formation, less attention has been paid to explain how the structure of social network and contextual circumstances can influence the course of public opinions. This work is aimed to ask three basic questions: (1) how can affect the structure of social networks to minority opinion spreading, (2) how committed agents can influence in this process, and (3) how mass media action, as a contextual factor, can vary different agents’ opinions and network composition. Agent-based modeling (ABM) is used to perform a network model of preferential attachment that is used to explore how phenomena of minority opinion spreading can evolve under different simulated scenarios. This study shows that the success of minority opinions depends on the network structure and composition, and thus external factors such as mass media action that can mediate the strength of these determinants. In spite of people tend to remain silent when they feel that their opinions are in the minority pole, our findings suggest that prevailing majority opinion may be replaced by formerly minority opinion if core agents in the network structure support this view. These results might be relevant to understand the communication process involved in formation of public opinion and the emergence of collective behavior in complex social systems.