Northwestern University researchers have developed the first quantitative model that captures how politicized environments affect U.S. political opinion formation and evolution.
Using the model, the researchers seek to understand how populations change their opinions when exposed to political content, such as news media, campaign ads and ordinary personal exchanges. The math-based framework is flexible, allowing future data to be incorporated as it becomes available.
“It’s really powerful to understand how people are influenced by the content that they see,” said David Sabin-Miller, a Northwestern graduate student who led the study. “It could help us understand how populations become polarized, which would be hugely beneficial.”
“Quantitative models like this allow us to run computational experiments,” added Northwestern’s Daniel Abrams, the study’s senior author. “We could simulate how various interventions might help fix extreme polarization to promote consensus.”
The paper will be published on Thursday (Oct. 1) in the journal Physical Review