Modelling collective opinion formation by means of active Brownian particles
GMD Institute for Autonomous Intelligent Systems, Schloss Birlinghoven, 53754 Sankt Augustin, Germany
2 Institute of Physics, Humboldt University, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany
3 Faculty of Physics, Warsaw University of Technology, Koszykowa 75, 00-662 Warsaw, Poland
Published online: 15 June 2000
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.
PACS: 05.40.-a – Fluctuation phenomena, random processes, noise, and Brown ian motion / 05.65.+b – Self-organized systems / 87.23.Ge – Dynamics of social systems
© EDP Sciences, Società Italiana di Fisica, Springer-Verlag, 2000