Network science on belief system dynamics under logic constraints

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Science  21 Oct 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6310, pp. 321-326
DOI: 10.1126/science.aag2624

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Belief system dynamics

People tend to structure their beliefs in a way that appears consistent to them. But how do some beliefs within groups persist in the face of social pressure, whereas others change and, by changing, influence a cascade of other beliefs? Friedkin et al. developed a model that can describe complexes of attitudes in a group that interact and change (see the Perspective by Butts). Their model revealed how the changing views of the U.S. population on the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq changed their views on whether the invasion by the United States was justified.

Science, this issue p. 321; see also p. 286


Breakthroughs have been made in algorithmic approaches to understanding how individuals in a group influence each other to reach a consensus. However, what happens to the group consensus if it depends on several statements, one of which is proven false? Here, we show how the existence of logical constraints on beliefs affect the collective convergence to a shared belief system and, in contrast, how an idiosyncratic set of arbitrarily linked beliefs held by a few may become held by many.

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