UMD Researchers Study How Stubbornness Affects Voting

Within social networks, information spreads and ideas compete. People can be persuaded by strong arguments on social media to change their opinions on, say, who is the best presidential candidate in the 2016 race. However, the level of difficulty in changing an individual’s opinion through social media varies—while some people stand firm, others waver in their opinions on certain issues.

To better understand how competing opinions move through social networks, University of Maryland researchers including Associate Professor Michelle Girvan (Physics/IPST) created a new model based on those commonly used to study how contagious diseases spread, but with one major addition: a quality they call “stubbornness” and define as an increasing resistance to changing one’s opinion. The UMD model was published online March 3, 2016 in the journal Physical Review E. 

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