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The coevolution of social networks and cognitive dissonance

Whitaker, Roger M. ORCID:, Colombo, Gualtiero B., Turner, Liam ORCID:, Dunham, Yarrow, Doyle, Darren K., Roy, Eilish M. and Giammanco, Cheryl A. 2022. The coevolution of social networks and cognitive dissonance. IEEE Transactions on Computational Social Systems 9 (2) , pp. 376-393. 10.1109/TCSS.2021.3090833

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Cognitive dissonance is well-understood as a significant psychological motivator of behavior. It can be experienced vicariously when a member of one's social group acts inconsistently to expectations. In this article, we explore the network implications from individuals reconciling cognitive friction when their neighbors hold alternative views. Through agent-based modeling, we introduce a framework to explore the sensitivity of behavior on social network structure, in response to vicarious dissonance. The model allows us to understand how and why vicarious dissonance may contribute to polarization, both in terms of network structure and the convictions held by individuals. Alternative response behaviors are each found to be highly effective in reducing the cognitive dissonance felt across a population but with wide-ranging outcomes for the population as a whole. The results highlight the important role of neutrality and tolerance in retaining social cohesion while showing how easily this can be disrupted. The model presents a useful tool for further research, allowing bespoke scenarios to be investigated.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Computer Science & Informatics
Crime and Security Research Institute (CSURI)
Publisher: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
ISSN: 2329-924X
Funders: U.S. Army Research Laboratory; U.K. Ministry of Defence; Supercomputing Wales Project which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund ERDF via the Welsh Government
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 July 2021
Date of Acceptance: 4 June 2021
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2023 04:26

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