Mass media and polarisation processes in the bounded confidence model of opinion dynamics

Gary McKeown, Noel Sheehy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


This paper presents a social simulation in which we add an additional layer of mass media communication to the social network 'bounded confidence' model of Deffuant et al (2000). A population of agents on a lattice with continuous opinions and bounded confidence adjust their opinions on the basis of binary social network interactions between neighbours or communication with a fixed opinion. There are two mechanisms for interaction. 'Social interaction' occurs between neighbours on a lattice and 'mass communication' adjusts opinions based on an agent interacting with a fixed opinion. Two new variables are added, polarisation: the degree to which two mass media opinions differ, and broadcast ratio: the number of social interactions for each mass media communication. Four dynamical regimes are observed, fragmented, double extreme convergence, a state of persistent opinion exchange leading to single extreme convergence and a disordered state. Double extreme convergence is found where agents are less willing to change opinion and mass media communications are common or where there is moderate willingness to change opinion and a high frequency of mass media communications. Single extreme convergence is found where there is moderate willingness to change opinion and a lower frequency of mass media communication. A period of persistent opinion exchange precedes single extreme convergence, it is characterized by the formation of two opposing groups of opinion separated by a gradient of opinion exchange. With even very low frequencies of mass media communications this results in a move to central opinions followed by a global drift to one extreme as one of the opposing groups of opinion dominates. A similar pattern of findings is observed for Neumann and Moore neighbourhoods.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-63
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2006


Cite this