Coherence and Polarization in Complex Networks

Babak Ravandi 1 and Fatma Mili 2Journal of Computational Social Science, 2019. [journal] [Research Gate]DOI: 10.1007/s42001-019-00036-w1 PhD Candidate in Department of Computer and Information Technology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA2 Dean and Professor of College of Computing and Informatics, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, USA

In a community, individuals hold opinions and views that are shaped in part by their sources of information and their social network. These opinions and views are rarely uniformly distributed through the possible spectrum. They can exhibit different patterns. We are, in particular, interested in two opposite patterns: polarization, where views are concentrated around extreme positions, and coherence, where views are closer to the center, more moderate positions. We seek to create a model of views evolution and their convergence towards one or another of the patterns. Furthermore, we focus on applying interventions to the structure of networks to demote the polarization issue and influence a network toward convergence of cohered views. Our results show adding links between the weakly-connected nodes reduces polarization, implying the weakly-connected nodes can form bridges between extreme views.

Intervene into the Network Structure to Reduce Polarization

We ask: which missing links are the most influential in decreasing the polarization phenomenon in complex networks? Surprisingly, our results show connecting the weakly-connected nodes is the most effective strategy to decrease polarization.

Cohered Network

Polarized Network