Hipsters on Networks: How a Small Group of Individuals Can Lead to an Anti-Establishment Majority

The spread of opinions, memes, diseases, and “alternative facts” in a population depends both on the details of the spreading process and on the structure of the social and communication networks on which they spread. One feature that can change spreading dynamics substantially is heterogeneous behavior among different types of individuals in a social network. In this paper, we explore how anti-establishment nodes (e.g., hipsters) influence spreading dynamics of two competing products. We consider a model in which spreading follows a deterministic rule for updating node states in which an adjustable fraction pHip of the nodes in a network are hipsters, who always choose to adopt the product that they believe is the less popular of the two. The remaining nodes are conformists, who choose which product to adopt by considering only which products their immediate neighbors have adopted. We simulate our model on both synthetic and real networks, and we show that the hipsters have a major effect on the final fraction of people who adopt each product: even when only one of the two products exists at the beginning of the simulations, a very small fraction of hipsters in a network can still cause the other product to eventually become more popular. Our simulations also demonstrate that a time delay τ in the knowledge of the product distribution in a population has a large effect on the final distribution of product adoptions. Our simple model and analysis may help shed light on the road to success for anti-establishment choices in elections, as such success — and qualitative differences in final outcomes between competing products, political candidates, and so on — can arise rather generically from a small number of anti-establishment individuals and ordinary processes of social influence on normal individuals.

 

Hipsters on Networks: How a Small Group of Individuals Can Lead to an Anti-Establishment Majority
Jonas S. Juul, Mason A. Porter

Source: arxiv.org