Janusz Hołyst - Tipping Points in Social Dynamics

September, 10 at 11:00 (MSC)


Theoretical physics together with computer simulations provided universal tools that made it possible to understand the nature of elementary particles, atomic nuclei, crystals, liquids, stars and galaxies. These tools, combined with observations from psychology and sociology, also allow to study social phenomena. Research in this domain  belongs to the field called  sociophysics.

During the lecture, I would like to show how the methods and models of sociophysics can be useful to understand certain properties of the society. I will present examples of  so-called tipping points of social opinion dynamics, which, from the point of view of physics, occur naturally in multistable systems as a result of multi-body interactions and co-evolution. Special cases of tipping points  will be discussed in detail for the models that describe the following phenomena: 

(i)             social homogenisation due to the increasing influence of a strong leader  

(ii)            social homogenisation due to increasing confrontation of social networks  

(iii)          society splitting due to rewiring of links connecting dissimilar agents 

(iv)          inhibiting structural balance due to homophilic interactions  

The lecture will be visualized with on-line simulations of opinion dynamics and changes in the structure of social group models.