“Hyperpolarization dynamics in social systems”

Jan 16, 2020 | 11:0011:30

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David Garcia’s talk “Hyperpolarization dynamics in social systems” will be part of ETH Interdisciplinary Symposium “Resilience and Performance of Networked Systems”, which will take place on January 16 in Zürich, Switzerland.




Polarization is threatening the stability of democratic societies. Opinion dynamics research has focused on explaining how opinion extremeness emerges in an issue, but this overlooks the correlation between different policy issues observed in empirical data. We explain the emergence of hyperpolarization, i.e. the combination of extremeness and correlation between issues, through an agent-based model based on the theory of cognitive balance.


After calibrating the model with empirical data from the 2016 US National Election Survey, we show that our model is the first to reproduce hyperpolarization without additional complex network structures or preexisting correlations between opinions. In this line, we quantitatively captured how social media interaction is driven towards polarization using the Twitter backlash to the EAT-Lancet report as an example. Large datasets of social media interaction bear the promise to empirically support opinion dynamics models, bridging the gap between computational theory and empirical data analysis at scale.


Jan 16, 2020