Steiglechner, Peter ORCID:, Keijzer, Marijn A., E. Smaldino, Paul, Moser, Deyshawn ORCID: and Merico, Agostino ORCID: (2024) Noise and opinion dynamics: how ambiguity promotes pro-majority consensus in the presence of confirmation bias. Royal Society Open Science, 11 (4). DOI

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Opinion dynamics are affected by cognitive biases and noise. While mathematical models have focused extensively on biases, we still know surprisingly little about how noise shapes opinion patterns. Here, we use an agent-based opinion dynamics model to investigate the interplay between confirmation bias—represented as bounded confidence—and different types of noise. After analysing where noise can enter social interaction, we propose a type of noise that has not been discussed so far, ambiguity noise. While previously considered types of noise acted on agents either before, after or independent of social interaction, ambiguity noise acts on communicated messages, assuming that socially transmitted opinions are inherently noisy. We find that noise can induce agreement when confirmation bias is moderate, but different types of noise require quite different conditions for this effect to occur. An application of our model to the climate change debate shows that at just the right mix of confirmation bias and ambiguity noise, opinions tend to converge to high levels of climate change concern. This result is not observed with the other types. Our findings highlight the importance of considering and distinguishing between the various types of noise and the unique role of ambiguity in opinion formation.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: PA2
Research affiliation: Integrated Modelling > Systems Ecology
Social Sciences > Institutional and Behavioural Economics
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
ISSN: 2054-5703
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2024 09:16
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2024 09:16

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