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The Critical Few: Anticonformists at the Crossroads of Minority Opinion Survival and Collapse

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Date Issued:
2015
Summary:
To maintain stability yet retain the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances, social systems must strike a balance between the maintenance of a shared reality and the survival of minority opinion. A computational model is presented that investigates the interplay of two basic, oppositional social processes— conformity and anticonformity—in promoting the emergence of this balance. Computer simulations employing a cellular automata platform tested hypotheses concerning the survival of minority opinion and the maintenance of system stability for different proportions of anticonformity. Results revealed that a relatively small proportion of anticonformists facilitated the survival of a minority opinion held by a larger number of conformists who would otherwise succumb to pressures for social consensus. Beyond a critical threshold, however, increased proportions of anticonformists undermined social stability. Understanding the adaptive benefits of balanced oppositional forces has implications for optimal functioning in psychological and social processes in general.
Title: The Critical Few: Anticonformists at the Crossroads of Minority Opinion Survival and Collapse.
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Name(s): Matthew Jarman
Andrzej Nowak
Wojciech Borkowski
David Serfass
Alexander Wong
Robin Vallacher
Type of Resource: text
Date Issued: 2015
Publisher: SimSoc Consortium
Physical Form: pdf
Extent: 10 p.
Language(s): English
Summary: To maintain stability yet retain the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances, social systems must strike a balance between the maintenance of a shared reality and the survival of minority opinion. A computational model is presented that investigates the interplay of two basic, oppositional social processes— conformity and anticonformity—in promoting the emergence of this balance. Computer simulations employing a cellular automata platform tested hypotheses concerning the survival of minority opinion and the maintenance of system stability for different proportions of anticonformity. Results revealed that a relatively small proportion of anticonformists facilitated the survival of a minority opinion held by a larger number of conformists who would otherwise succumb to pressures for social consensus. Beyond a critical threshold, however, increased proportions of anticonformists undermined social stability. Understanding the adaptive benefits of balanced oppositional forces has implications for optimal functioning in psychological and social processes in general.
Identifier: FAUIR000485 (IID)
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/fau/fd/FAUIR000485
Host Institution: FAU

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