Resisting hostility generated by terror: An agent-based study

05/25/2018
by   Sylvie Huet, et al.
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We aim to study through an agent-based model the cultural conditions leading to a decrease or an increase of discrimination between groups after a major cultural threat such as a terrorist attack. We propose an agent-based model of cultural dynamics inspired from the social psychological theories. An agent has a cultural identity comprised of the most acceptable positions about each of the different cultural worldviews corresponding to the main cultural groups of the considered society and a margin of acceptance around each of these most acceptable positions. An agent forms an attitude about another agent depending on the similarity between their cultural identities. When a terrorist attack is perpetrated in the name of an extreme cultural identity, the negatively perceived agents from this extreme cultural identity modify their margins of acceptance in order to differentiate themselves more from the threatening cultural identity. We generated a set of populations with cultural identities compatible with data given by a survey on groups' attitudes among a large sample representative of the population of France; we then simulated the reaction of these agents facing a threat. For most populations, the average attitude toward agents with the same preferred worldview as the terrorists becomes more negative; however, when the population shows some cultural properties, we noticed the opposite effect as the average attitude of the population becomes less negative. This particular context requires that the agents sharing the same preferred worldview with the terrorists strongly differentiate themselves from the terrorists' extreme cultural identity and that the other agents be aware of these changes.

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