A Laplacian approach to stubborn agents and their role in opinion formation on influence networks

Within the framework of a simple model for social influence, the Taylor model, we analytically investigate the role of stubborn agents in the overall opinion dynamics of networked systems. Similar to zealots, stubborn agents are biased towards a certain opinion and have a major effect on the collective opinion formation process. Based on a modified version of the network Laplacian we derive quantities capturing the transient dynamics of the system and the emerging stationary opinion states. In the case of a single stubborn agent we characterize his/her ability to coherently change a prevailing consensus. For two antagonistic stubborn agents we investigate the opinion heterogeneity of the emerging non-consensus states and describe their statistical properties using a graph metric similar to the resistance distance in electrical networks. Applying the model to synthetic and empirical networks we find while opinion diversity is decreased by small-worldness and favored in the case of a pronounced community structure the opposite is true for the coherence of opinions during a consensus change. (C) 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Published in:
Physica A-Statistical Mechanics And Its Applications, 557, 124869
Nov 01 2020

 Record created 2020-08-27, last modified 2020-10-29

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