Dissonance minimization as a microfoundation of social influence in models of opinion formation

Patrick Groeber, Jan Lorenz and Frank Schweitzer

The Journal of Mathematical Sociology (2014)


Models of opinion formation are used to investigate many collective phenomena. While social influence often constitutes a basic mechanism, its implementation differs between the models. In this paper, we provide a general framework of social influence inspired by the social psychological concept of cognitive dissonance.We only premise that individuals strive to minimize dissonance resulting from different opinions compared to neighbor individuals in a given social network. Within a game theoretic context, we show that our concept of dissonance reduction exhibits the basic properties of a coordination process. We further show that different models of opinion formation can be represented as best response dynamics within our general framework. Thus, we offer a unifying perspective on heterogeneous models and link them to rational choice theory.