Committed activists and the reshaping of status-quo social consensus

Dina Mistry, Qian Zhang, Nicola Perra, Andrea Baronchelli
October 7, 2017


The role of committed minorities in shaping public opinion has been recently addressed with the help of multiagent models. However, previous studies focused on homogeneous populations where zealots stand out only for their stubbornness. Here we consider the more general case in which individuals are characterized by different propensities to communicate. In particular, we correlate commitment with a higher tendency to push an opinion, acknowledging the fact that individuals with unwavering dedication to a cause are also more active in their attempts to promote their message. We show that these activists are not only more efficient in spreading their message but that their efforts require an order of magnitude fewer individuals than a randomly selected committed minority to bring the population over to a new consensus. Finally, we address the role of communities, showing that partisan divisions in the society can make it harder for committed individuals to flip the status-quo social consensus.

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