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Modeling Opinion Flow in Humans Using Boids Algorithm & Social Network Analysis

September 28, 2006 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 8 Next

Example Force Calculation

A simple example may help make this method seem more concrete.

We will consider the very simple universe of one college student named Charlie. He has two professors. We will focus only on the forces coming from them4.

Charlie has two professors: Prof A and Prof B. Charlie is influenced by what they think and his relation with them. (They are not influenced by what Charlie thinks, so we show no arrow going from Charlie to them.)

In our first example, Charlie has equal respect (weight 1) for both professors. We must normalize the strength of each connection across the sum of all connections.

Sum of All Connections = 1 + 1

Normalized Strength of Prof A = 1 / (1+1) = .5
Normalized Strength of Prof B = 1 / (1+1) = .5

If both professors have an alignment score (1) toward a particular idea (say a belief in King John), then there will be a force acting on Charlie to believe similarly. In our simple construction, the total force will be:

Avg. Weighted Alignment = (.5 * 1)+(.5 * 1) = 1
Force = 1 – 0 = 1

There will be a net force pulling on Charlie to believe King John is the rightful king.

If however, one of the professors had an idea score
of -1 (say he believes King Richard should be king) then the total forces on Charlie will cancel out.

Avg. Weighted Alignment = (.5 * 1)+(.5 * -1) = 0
Force = 0 – 0 = 0

There is no force pulling on him, since the two people he respects equally have opposing views.

If Charlie finds out some disturbing information about Prof A, and his respect turns to contempt (connectivity of –1) then the forces on him will change again. Now the total forces on him will be –2. His contempt for Prof A pushes him away from the ideas held by Prof A, and his respect for Prof B, pulls him closer to the idea held by Prof B.

Avg. Weighted Alignment = (-.5 * 1)+(.5 * -1) = -1
Force = -1 – (0) = -1

Charlie is pulled in the direction of King Richard.


Article Start Previous Page 3 of 8 Next

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