Opinion dynamics with emergent collective memory: The impact of a long and heterogeneous news history

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In modern society people are being exposed to numerous information, with some of them being frequently repeated or more disruptive than others. In this paper we use a model of opinion dynamics to study how this news impact the society. In particular, our study aims to explain how the exposure of the society to certain events deeply change people’s perception of the present and future. The evolution of opinions which we consider is influenced both by external information and the pressure of the society. The latter includes imitation, differentiation, homophily and its opposite, xenophobia. The combination of these ingredients gives rise to a collective memory effect, which is triggered by external information. In this paper we focus our attention on how this memory arises when the order of appearance of external news is random. We will show which characteristics a piece of news needs to have in order to be embedded in the society’s memory. We will also provide an analytical way to measure how many information a society can remember when an extensive number of news items is presented. Finally we will show that, when a certain piece of news is present in the society’s history, even a distorted version of it is sufficient to trigger the memory of the originally stored information.
Original languageEnglish
Article number125799
Early online date30 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


  • Opinion dynamics
  • Collective memory
  • Statistical mechanics


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