When pull turns to shove: A continuous-time model for opinion dynamics

David Sabin-Miller*, Daniel M. Abrams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Accurate modeling of opinion dynamics has the potential to help us understand polarization and what makes effective political discourse possible or impossible. Here, we use physics-based methods to model the evolution of political opinions within a continuously distributed population. We utilize a network-free system of determining political influence and a local-attraction, distal-repulsion dynamic for reaction to perceived content. Our approach allows for the incorporation of intergroup bias such that messages from trusted in-group sources enjoy greater leeway than out-group ones. We are able to extrapolate these nonlinear microscopic dynamics to macroscopic population distributions by using probabilistic functions representing biased environments. The framework we put forward can reproduce real-world political distributions and experimentally observed dynamics and is amenable to further refinement as more data becomes available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number043001
JournalPhysical Review Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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