Advances in the Simulation-Based Analysis of Attitude Change

Article excerpt

Abstract

In this paper we provide an overview of the most relevant research work on the simulation of attitudes which evolved in the late 90's and mainly after the year 2000. The general framework for the modeling, simulation and computational research on attitudes integrates research approaches (both fundamental and applicative) which combine theories from sociology, social psychology, social economics, political science, conflict theories, human-computer interaction areas with complexity theory, computer science, autonomous agents, artificial life, artificial intelligence, machine learning and decision making. One of the main dimensions is that of elaborating agent-based studies and simulations of the attitude dynamics.

Keywords: attitude simulation, attitude change

1. Introduction: Whether and to what extent the fields and topics of "political attitude and mentality" are likely to promote scientific innovation and possibly, improve applications ?

The attitude modeling and simulation with artificial societies and agent-based artificial systems are becoming more and more the area of

(i) experimental evaluation of both classical social, economic and (geo)political theories and of newly emerging theories of social complexity, conflict theory or risk analysis,

(ii) development of complex artificial platforms of artificial life able to appropriately support the development of research work in the areas mentioned above, and least but not last

(iii) integrating results and achievements already reported by other research communities, like the Social Simulation one represented by ESSA, JASSS, among others.

2. Brief History of Attitude Change Simulation-Based Research Approaches

The most relevant research work on the simulation of attitudes evolved in the late 90's and mainly after the year 2000. The general framework for the modeling, simulation and computational research on attitudes integrates research approaches (both fundamental and applicative) which combine theories from sociology, social psychology, social economics, political science, conflict theories, human-computer interaction areas with complexity theory, computer science, autonomous agents, artificial life, artificial intelligence, machine learning and decision making. One of the main dimensions is that of elaborating agent-based studies and simulations of the attitude dynamics:

(i) dynamics of attitude change (Jager and Amblard, 2004; Voinea, 1997; Voinea, 1999);

(ii) dynamics of the relation between behavior and attitudes (Voinea, 1995, 2003; Ben Said, Drogoul and Bouron, 2001; Boero, Castellani and Squazzoni, 2004; Jager and Amblard, 2004);

(iii) dynamics of attitudes as outcomes of persuasive processes (Mosler and Martens, 2008);

(iv) dynamics of the relation between attitudes and ethnic conflict (Srbljinovic, Penzar, Rodik and Kardov, 2003; Cederman, Wimmer, and Min, 2009).

Another relevant dimension is that of elaborating agent-based simulations of the attitude processes like attitude formation or attitude change for different types of agents:

(i) economical (consumer) agents (Ben Said, Drogoul and Bouron, 2002);

(ii) industrial companies as agents (Boero, Castellani and Squazzoni, 2004);

(iii) political agents (Johannes Kottonau and Claudia Pahl-Wostl, 2004);

(iv) artificial communities/ societies (Hans Joachim Mosler, T. Martens, 2008).

The area of research of political attitude is of particular relevance: though the political psychology approaches are rather scarce, the domain is important for the study of political attitude formation and change. The main issues which have been approached in this respect are:

(i) the study of the attitude's attribute of strength (Krosnick, 1988),

(ii) the study of the importance and range attributes of attitude (Liu & Latane, 1998),

(iii) the influence of information in political attitude change during electoral campaigns ( Huckfeldt & Sprague, 2000; Lavine, 2001; Kottonau and Pahl-Wostl, 2004),

(iv) the study of attitude's attributes of involvement and accessibility (Lavine, Borgida, & Sullivan, 2000), or

(v) the multidimesionality of political attitudes (Meffert, Guge, & Lodge, 2000). …

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