Opinion Formation in a Heterogenous Society

  • Marie-Therese Wolfram
Part of the New Economic Windows book series (NEW)


Opinion formation and opinion leadership has attracted a lot of research among sociologists and physicists in the last decades. The first concept of opinion leadership goes back to Lazarsfeld et al. [8] in 1944. Larzarsfeld et al. found out that during the presidential elections in 1940 interpersonal communication showed greater influence than direct media effects. In their theory of two-step flow communication opinion leaders, who are activemedia users, select, modify and transmit information from the media to the less active part of the community. In later models sociologists gained a different view of opinion leadership by introducing the notion of public individuation. Public individuation describes how people want to differentiate and act differently from other people, see [9]. This attitude is a necessary prerequisite for an opinion leader, since she or he has to stand out against the masses. Characteristic features of opinion leaders are their high self esteem and confidence as well as their ability to withstand criticism. Although new technologies like the internet, blogs or instant messaging changed the way of communication and information dissemination globally, opinion leadership still plays a critical role in opinion formation processes.


Opinion Leader Opinion Formation Discontinuous Galerkin Senior Citizen Direct Simulation Monte Carlo 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Boudin, L., Monaco, R., Salvarani, F.: A kinetic model for multidimensional opinion formation. Phys. Rev. E 81, 036, 109 (2010)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Boudin, L., Salvarani, F.: A kinetic approach to the study of opinion formation. M2AN Math. Model. Numer. Anal. 43(3), 507–522 (2009). DOI 10.1051/m2an/2009004. URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/m2an/2009004CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Comincioli, V., Della Croce, L., Toscani, G.: A Boltzmann-like equation for choice formation. Kinet. Relat. Models 2(1), 135–149 (2009). DOI 10.3934/krm.2009.2.135. URL http://dx.doi.org/10.3934/krm.2009.2.135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Deffuant, G., Amblard, F., Weisbuch, G., Faure, T.: How can extremism prevail? a study based on the relative agreement interaction model. JASSS J. Art. Soc. Soc. Sim 5(4) (2002)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Düring, B., Markowich, P., Pietschmann, J.F., Wolfram, M.T.: Boltzmann and Fokker-Planck equations modelling opinion formation in the presence of strong leaders. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. Ser. A Math. Phys. Eng. Sci. 465(2112), 3687–3708 (2009). DOI 10.1098/rspa.2009.0239. URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspa.2009.0239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Egger, H., Schoberl, J.: A hybrid mixed discontinuous Galerkin finite-element method for convection-diffusion problems. IMA J Numer Anal p. drn083 (2009). DOI 10.1093/imanum/drn083. URL http://imajna.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/drn083v1Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Galam, S., Gefen, Y., Shapir, Y.: Sociophysics: a new approach of sociological collective behavior. J. Math. Sociology 9, 1–13 (1982)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Lazarsfeld, P., Berelson, B., Gaudet, H.: The people’s choice: How the voter makes up his mind in a presidential campaign. Duell, Sloan, Pearce (1944)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Maslach, C., Stapp, J., Santee, R.: Individuation: Conceptual analysis and assessment. J. Personality Social Psychology 49(3), 729–738 (1985)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    S., G.: Heterogeneous beliefs, segregation, and extremism in the making of public opinions. Phys. Rev. E 71(4), 046, 123 (2005)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Slanina, F., Lavicka, H.: Analytical results for the sznajd model of opinion formation. Eur. Phys. J. B 35(2), 279–288 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Sznajd-Weron, K., Sznajd, J.: Opinion formation in closed community. Int. J. Mod. Phys. C 11(6), 1157–1165 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Toscani, G.: Kinetic models of opinion formation. Commun. Math. Sci. 4(3), 481–496 (2006). URL http://projecteuclid.org/getRecord?id=euclid.cms/1175797553Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Weidlich, W.: A systematic approach to Mathematical modelling in the social sciences. Harwood Academic Publishers (2000)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie-Therese Wolfram
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of MathematicsUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

Personalised recommendations