The effect of influencers on societal polarization

John Betts, Ana-Maria Bliuc

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

164 Downloads (Pure)


Societies can polarize when there is disagreement on important issues. The rise of social media in recent years has led to the phenomenon of influencers, who are now prominent in public debate, especially online. However, their effect on polarization is not well understood. To address this gap in knowledge, we create an Agent-Based Model of a society into which an influencer is introduced and their effect on polarization observed. Results show that an influencer holding extreme views will always increase the rate of polarization, with this effect increasing in line with their reach and activity level. The effect of a neutral influencer varies with the tolerance for opposing beliefs in the society: slowing the rate of polarization for relatively tolerant societies, but increasing the rate when societies are more conservative, or the influencer has narrow reach. Consequently, these results have implications for the design of influencer campaigns for social good.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWSC'22
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the Winter Simulation Conference
EditorsB. Feng, G. Pedrielli, Y. Peng, S. Shashaani, E. Song, C.G. Corlu, L.H. Lee, E.P. Chew, T. Roeder, P. Lendermann
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-6654-7661-4
ISBN (Print)978-1-6654-7662-1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2022
Event2022 Winter Simulation Conference: Reimagine Tomorrow - Singapore
Duration: 11 Dec 202214 Dec 2022


Conference2022 Winter Simulation Conference
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of influencers on societal polarization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this