Stubbornness as an unfortunate key to win a public debate : An illustration from sociophysics
Mind and Society
117 - 130 p.
Sociophysics, Opinion dynamics, Stubborness
Most models of opinion dynamics are threshold-like. For two competing opinions the dynamics is one-dimensional and the associated opinion flow is shaped by at least two attractors separated by a tipping threshold, not necessarily located at 50 %. Initial supports are thus instrumental to determine the final debate outcome. In contrast, the absence of a tipping threshold implies a unique attractor making the initial conditions irrelevant. One of the opinions is predetermined to become the majority whatever initial support it has. Accordingly, to make a threshold dynamics non threshold appears to be an instrumental strategic option. An illustration of the possibility of such a reshaping of the opinion dynamics geometry is given using the Galam sequential opinion dynamics model. The key parameters are pair interactions and inflexible or stubborn agents. A new and counter intuitive light is shed on the design of winning strategies in public issues. However the findings pose ethical issues. The case of global warming is discussed.