Opinion Dynamics and Stubbornness Via Multi-Population Mean-Field Games

Dario Bauso*, Raffaele Pesenti, Marco Tolotti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This paper studies opinion dynamics for a set of heterogeneous populations of individuals pursuing two conflicting goals: to seek consensus and to be coherent with their initial opinions. The multi-population game under investigation is characterized by (i) rational agents who behave strategically, (ii) heterogeneous populations, and (iii) opinions evolving in response to local interactions. The main contribution of this paper is to encompass all of these aspects under the unified framework of mean-field game theory. We show that, assuming initial Gaussian density functions and affine control policies, the Fokker-Planck-Kolmogorov equation preserves Gaussianity over time. This fact is then used to explicitly derive expressions for the optimal control strategies when the players are myopic. We then explore consensus formation depending on the stubbornness of the involved populations: We identify conditions that lead to some elementary patterns, such as consensus, polarization, or plurality of opinions. Finally, under the baseline example of the presence of a stubborn population and a most gregarious one, we study the behavior of the model with a finite number of players, describing the dynamics of the average opinion, which is now a stochastic process. We also provide numerical simulations to show how the parameters impact the equilibrium formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-293
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of optimization theory and applications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Opinion dynamics
  • Consensus
  • Heterogeneous populations
  • Stubbornness
  • Mean-field games

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