Preprint 24/2020

The dynamics of opinion expression

Felix Gaisbauer, Eckehard Olbrich, and Sven Banisch

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Submission date: 05. Feb. 2020
Pages: 15
paper prepared for: Physical Review E
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Abstract:
Modelling efforts in opinion dynamics have to a large extent ignored that opinion exchange between individuals can also have an effect on how willing they are to express their opinion publicly. Here, we introduce a model of public opinion expression. Two groups of agents with different opinion on an issue interact with each other, changing the willingness to express their opinion according to whether they perceive themselves as part of the majority or minority opinion. We formulate the model as a multi-group majority game and investigate the Nash equilibria. We also provide a dynamical systems perspective: Using the reinforcement learning algorithm of Q-learning, we reduce the N-agent system in a mean-field approach to two dimensions which represent the two opinion groups. This two-dimensional system is analyzed in a comprehensive bifurcation analysis of its parameters. The model identifies social-structural conditions for public opinion predominance of different groups. Among other findings, we show under which circumstances a minority can dominate public discourse.

05.02.2020, 20:32