MMM Workshop September 2023

How assimilative and idiosyncratic attitude change generate oscillations of public policy mood

Jan Lorenz
Constructor University Bremen

13 Sep 2023, 14:45–15:10

Presentation Slides (PDF)


The ideological attitudes of the general public in the US show two characteristics in their temporal evolution. When measured by self-identification, the distribution stays almost constant with a large moderate peak and a tendency for smaller and blurred liberal and conservative peaks. When conceptualized and measured as public policy mood instead, they oscillate almost regularly. We reproduce both phenomena in an agent-based model. In the model, agents repeatedly adjust their position either idiosyncratically but more often through assimilative attitude change towards the positions of others whenever these positions are within a latitude of acceptance. Stable distributions similar to real-world data occur under homogeneous latitudes of acceptance and a small but sizable inflow of idiosyncratic attitudes. In contrast, the median attitude oscillates similar to public policy mood with less idiosyncrasy and heterogeneous latitudes of acceptance. The model points towards endogenous mechanisms driving political attitude formation in the general population.

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