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An Influence Network Model to Study Discrepancies in Expressed and Private Opinions

06/29/2018
by   Mengbin Ye, et al.
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In many social situations, a discrepancy arises between an individual's private and expressed opinions on a given topic. Motivated by Solomon Asch's seminal experiments on conformity and other related socio-psychological works, we propose a novel opinion dynamics model to study how such a discrepancy can arise in general social networks of interpersonal influence due to a pressure to conform to the group standard. Each individual in the network has both a private and an expressed opinion: an individual's private opinion evolves under social influence from the expressed opinions of the individual's neighbours, while the individual determines his or her expressed opinion under a pressure to conform to the group average opinion, termed the public opinion. General conditions on the network that guarantee exponentially fast convergence of the opinions to a limit are obtained. Further analysis of the limit yields several semi-quantitative conclusions, which have insightful social interpretations, including the establishing of the conditions that ensure every individual in the network has such a discrepancy. Last, we show the generality and validity of the model by using it to explain and predict the results of Solomon Asch's seminal experiments.

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