The impact of heterogeneity on threshold-limited social contagion, and on crowd decision-making

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Karampourniotis, Panagiotis Dimitrios
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First, to capture the complex nature of social influencing we use a simple but classic model of contagion spreading in complex social systems, namely the threshold model. We investigate numerically and analytically the transition in the behavior of threshold-limited cascades in the presence of multiple initiators as the distribution of thresholds is varied between the two extreme cases of identical thresholds and a uniform distribution. We show that individuals' heterogeneity of susceptibility governs the dynamics, resulting in different sizes of initiators needed for consensus.
Finally, we study the aggregated biases of humans in a global setting. The emergence of technology and globalization gives raise to the debate on whether the world moves towards becoming flat a world where preferential attachment does not govern economic growth. By studying the data from a global lending platform we discover that geographical proximity and cultural affinity are highly negatively correlated with levels of flatness of the world. Furthermore, we investigate the robustness of the flatness of the world against sudden catastrophic national events such as political disruptions, by removing countries (nodes) or connections (edges) between them.
Furthermore, given the impact of heterogeneity on the cascade dynamics, we investigate selection strategies for accelerating consensus. To this end, we introduce two new selection strategies for Influence Maximization. One of them focuses on finding the balance between targeting nodes which have high resistance to adoptions versus nodes positioned in central spots in networks. The second strategy focuses on the combination of nodes for reaching consensus, by targeting nodes which increase the group's influence. Our strategies outperform other existing strategies regardless of the susceptibility diversity and network degree assortativity.
Recent global events and their poor predictability are often attributed to the complexity of the world event dynamics. A key factor generating the turbulence is human diversity. Here, we study the impact of heterogeneity of individuals on opinion formation and emergence of global biases. In the case of opinion formation, we focus on the heterogeneity of individuals' susceptibility to new ideas. In the case of global biases, we focus on the aggregated heterogeneity of individuals in a country.
August 2017
School of Science
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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
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