Modelling collective opinion formation by means of active Brownian particles

Frank Schweitzer , Janusz Hołyst


The concept of active Brownian particles is used to model a collective opinion formation process. It is assumed that individuals in community create a two-component communication field that influences the change of opinions of other persons and/or can induce their migration. The communication field is described by a reaction-diffusion equation, the opinion change of the individuals is given by a master equation, while the migration is described by a set of Langevin equations, coupled by the communication field. In the mean-field limit holding for fast communication we derive a critical population size, above which the community separates into a majority and a minority with opposite opinions. The existence of external support (e.g. from mass media) changes the ratio between minority and majority, until above a critical external support the supported subpopulation exists always as a majority. Spatial effects lead to two critical “social” temperatures, between which the community exists in a metastable state, thus fluctuations below a certain critical wave number may result in a spatial opinion separation. The range of metastability is particularly determined by a parameter characterizing the individual response to the communication field. In our discussion, we draw analogies to phase transitions in physical systems.
Author Frank Schweitzer - [Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT]
Frank Schweitzer,,
, Janusz Hołyst (FP / LPESS)
Janusz Hołyst,,
- Center of Physics in Economics and Social Sciences
Corporate authorThe Faculty of Physics, WUT (WF)
Journal seriesEuropean Physical Journal B, ISSN 1434-6028, e-ISSN 1434-6036
Issue year2000
Pages723 - 732
Publication size in sheets0.5
Keywords in EnglishCondensed Matter - Statistical Mechanics, Nonlinear Sciences - Adaptation and Self-Organizing Systems
ASJC Classification2504 Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials; 3104 Condensed Matter Physics
Languageen angielski
Score (nominal)25
Score sourcejournalList
Publication indicators WoS Citations = 87; Scopus Citations = 94; GS Citations = 144.0; Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2000 = 1.392; WoS Impact Factor: 2006 = 1.651 (2) - 2007=1.515 (5)
Citation count*144 (2020-01-17)
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