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Exchange of arguments in a discussion often makes individuals more radical about their initial opinion. This phenomenon is known as Group-induced Attitude Polarization. A byproduct of it are bipolarization effects, where the distance between the attitudes of two groups of individuals increases after the discussion. This paper is a first attempt to analyse the building blocks of information exchange and information update that induce polarization. I use Argumentation Frameworks as a tool for encoding the information of agents in a debate relative to a given issue a. I then adapt a specific measure of the degree of acceptability of an opinion (Matt and Toni 2008). Changes in the degree of acceptability of a, prior and posterior to information exchange, serve here as an indicator of polarization. I finally show that the way agents transmit and update information has a decisive impact on polarization and bipolarization.
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According to social comparison explanations, such as [ 26], polarization may arise in a group because individuals are motivated to perceive and present themselves in a favorable light in their social environment. To this end, they take a position which is similar to everyone else but a bit more extreme. This kind of explanation assumes a lot. Indeed, models that explain bipolarization effects by social comparison mechanisms usually postulate both positive influence by ingroup members and negative influence by outgroup members [ 12, 16]. However, a number of criticisms have been addressed towards the accuracy of empirical research showing the presence of negative influence in social interaction [ 19].
This explanation assumes that individuals become more convinced of their view when they hear novel and persuasive arguments in favor of their position, and therefore “Group discussion will cause an individual to shift in a given direction to the extent that the discussion exposes that individual to persuasive arguments favoring that direction” [ 15]. Typically, models inspired by persuasive arguments theory do not assume negative influence of any kind, but presuppose homophily, i.e. stronger interaction with like-minded individuals [ 23], or biased assimilation of arguments [ 21].
Admissibility is the basis of most of the solution concepts in the standard Dung’s framework such as preferredness, stability and groundedness. For our present purposes we don’t need to introduce them.
Being unaware that b attacks c is the case when one lacks the warrant for b to undermine c (see also [ 29]). To give an example, let c be the argument “Phosphorus is not visible in the sky tonight” and b be the argument “Look, Hesperus is there!”. Clearly b constitutes an attack to c only if one is aware that Hesperus and Phosphorus are the same planet.
As pointed out by Reviewer 1, modelling information transmission and update in cheap talk situations is a highly interesting venue, which we must leave for future research.
Thanks to Reviewer 1 for raising this issue.
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- The Dynamics of Group Polarization
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg
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