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Understanding human belief dynamics is a crucial problem for our society. Many different approaches have been used to understand and predict how individual beliefs form and spread. Some approaches investigate how social network mechanisms promote or impede spread of beliefs. Others focus on cognitive mechanisms underlying belief spread, including strategies for belief updating, network updating, and representation of social environments. We present a modular framework that integrates these different mechanisms using the theory of cognitive dissonance and the formalism of statistical physics models. The framework enables specifying and comparing different models of belief dynamics that have been so far studied independently. It can reproduce established empirical and theoretical findings about belief dynamics, and describe belief change in empirical data from longitudinal studies.
Mirta Galesic is Professor and Cowan Chair in Human Social Dynamics at the Santa Fe Institute, External Faculty at the Complexity Science Hub in Vienna, Austria, and Associate Researcher at the Harding Center for Risk Literacy at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany. She studies how simple cognitive mechanisms interact with social and physical environments to produce seemingly complex social phenomena. Mirta’s projects focus on developing empirically grounded computational models of social judgments, social learning, collective problem solving, and opinion dynamics. She is also interested in how people understand and cope with uncertainty and complexity inherent in many everyday decisions.