Bounded-Confidence Models of Opinion Dynamics with Adaptive Confidence Bounds


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People's opinions change with time as they interact with each other. In a bounded-confidence model (BCM) of opinion dynamics, individuals (which are represented by the nodes of a network) have continuous-valued opinions and are influenced by neighboring nodes whose opinions are sufficiently similar to theirs (i.e., are within a confidence bound). In this paper, we formulate and analyze discrete-time BCMs with heterogeneous and adaptive confidence bounds. We introduce two new models: (1) a BCM with synchronous opinion updates that generalizes the Hegselmann–Krause (HK) model and (2) a BCM with asynchronous opinion updates that generalizes the Deffuant–Weisbuch (DW) model. We analytically and numerically explore our adaptive BCMs' limiting behaviors, including the confidence-bound dynamics, the formation of clusters of nodes with similar opinions, and the time evolution of an "effective graph", which is a time-dependent subgraph of a network with edges between nodes that are currently receptive to each other. For a variety of networks and a wide range of values of the parameters that control the increase and decrease of confidence bounds, we demonstrate numerically that our adaptive BCMs result in fewer major opinion clusters and longer convergence times than the baseline (i.e., nonadaptive) BCMs. We also show that our adaptive BCMs can have adjacent nodes that converge to the same opinion but are not receptive to each other. This qualitative behavior does not occur in the associated baseline BCMs.
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