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Theory of collective opinion shifts: from smooth trends to abrupt swings

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  • Q. Michard
  • J.-P. Bouchaud

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Abstract

We unveil collective effects induced by imitation and social pressure by analyzing data from three different sources: birth rates, sales of cell phones and the drop of applause in concert halls. We interpret our results within the framework of the Random Field Ising Model, which is a threshold model for collective decisions accounting both for agent heterogeneity and social imitation. Changes of opinion can occur either abruptly or continuously, depending on the importance of herding effects. The main prediction of the model is a scaling relation between the height h of the speed of variation peak and its width w of the form h ∼w -κ , with κ= 2/3 for well connected populations. Our three sets of data are compatible with such a prediction, with κ≈0.62 for birth rates, κ≈0.71 for cell phones and κ≈0.64 for clapping. In this last case, we in fact observe that some clapping samples end discontinuously (w=0), as predicted by the model for strong enough imitation. Copyright EDP Sciences/Società Italiana di Fisica/Springer-Verlag 2005

Suggested Citation

  • Q. Michard & J.-P. Bouchaud, 2005. "Theory of collective opinion shifts: from smooth trends to abrupt swings," The European Physical Journal B: Condensed Matter and Complex Systems, Springer;EDP Sciences, vol. 47(1), pages 151-159, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:eurphb:v:47:y:2005:i:1:p:151-159
    DOI: 10.1140/epjb/e2005-00307-0
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chamley,Christophe P., 2004. "Rational Herds," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521530927, April.
    2. Chamley,Christophe P., 2004. "Rational Herds," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521824019, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Damien Challet, 2016. "Regrets, learning and wisdom," Papers 1605.01052, arXiv.org.
    2. Vaz Martins, Teresa & Araújo, Tanya & Augusta Santos, Maria & St Aubyn, Miguel, 2009. "Network effects in a human capital based economic growth model," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 388(11), pages 2207-2214.
    3. Mirta B. Gordon & Jean-Pierre Nadal & Denis Phan & Viktoriya Semeshenko, 2012. "Entanglement between Demand and Supply in Markets with Bandwagon Goods," Papers 1209.1321, arXiv.org, revised Dec 2012.
    4. repec:eee:apmaco:v:323:y:2018:i:c:p:182-192 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. D. Sornette, 2014. "Physics and Financial Economics (1776-2014): Puzzles, Ising and Agent-Based models," Papers 1404.0243, arXiv.org.
    6. Martins, André C.R. & Pereira, Carlos de B. & Vicente, Renato, 2009. "An opinion dynamics model for the diffusion of innovations," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 388(15), pages 3225-3232.
    7. Jean-Philippe Bouchaud, 2012. "Crises and collective socio-economic phenomena: simple models and challenges," Papers 1209.0453, arXiv.org, revised Dec 2012.
    8. repec:eee:aumajo:v:22:y:2014:i:1:p:28-35 is not listed on IDEAS

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