Populism and Polarization in Social Media Without Fake News: The Vicious Circle of Biases, Beliefs and Network Homophily

44 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2019

See all articles by Zaruhi Hakobyan

Zaruhi Hakobyan

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Christos Koulovatianos

Department of Finance, University of Luxembourg

Date Written: August 11, 2019

Abstract

We build a search-and-matching algorithm of network dynamics with decision-making under incomplete information, seeking to understand the determinants of the observed gradual downgrading of expert opinion on complicated issues and the decreasing trust in science. Even without fake news, combining the internet’s ease of forming networks with (a) individual biases, such as confirmation bias or assimilation bias, and (b) people’s tendency to align their actions with those of peers, produces populist and polarization network dynamics. Homophily leads to actions with more weight on biases and less weight on expert opinion, and such actions lead to more homophily.

Keywords: network dynamics, internet, higher-order beliefs, learning, expert opinions, biased assimilation, confirmation bias

JEL Classification: D85, D83, D82, D72, C78

Suggested Citation

Hakobyan, Zaruhi and Koulovatianos, Christos, Populism and Polarization in Social Media Without Fake News: The Vicious Circle of Biases, Beliefs and Network Homophily (August 11, 2019). CFS Working Paper, No. 626, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3435817 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3435817

Zaruhi Hakobyan

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Christos Koulovatianos (Contact Author)

Department of Finance, University of Luxembourg ( email )

4 Rue Albert Borschette
Luxembourg, L-1246
Luxembourg

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