Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Operational Sciences

First Advisor

John O. Miller, PhD


Opinion dynamics is the study of how opinions in a group of individuals change over time. A goal of opinion dynamics modelers has long been to find a social science-based model that generates strong diversity -- smooth, stable, possibly multi-modal distributions of opinions. This research lays the foundations for and develops such a model. First, a taxonomy is developed to precisely describe agent schedules in an opinion dynamics model. The importance of scheduling is shown with applications to generalized forms of two models. Next, the meta-contrast influence field (MIF) model is defined. It is rooted in self-categorization theory and improves on the existing meta-contrast model by providing a properly scaled, continuous influence basis. Finally, the MIF-Local Repulsion (MIF-LR) model is developed and presented. This augments the MIF model with a formulation of uniqueness theory. The MIF-LR model generates strong diversity. An application of the model shows that partisan polarization can be explained by increased non-local social ties enabled by communications technology.

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DTIC Accession Number