Nav: Home

Lobachevsky University scientists developed a mathematical model of a social conflict

June 28, 2018

A team of researchers led by Associate Professor Alexander Petukhov of the Institute of International Relations and World History at Lobachevsky University is developing social conflict models on the basis of nonlinear dynamics.

For mathematical modeling, an important feature of social and political processes is that they cannot be strictly defined. They are always subject to small changes and fluctuations. Quite often, social processes are compared to Brownian particles. These small changes (fluctuations) in their trajectory are explained by the chaotic motion of other molecules. In social processes, fluctuations can be regarded as manifestations of their individual participants' free will, as well as other random manifestations of the external environment.

In physics, these processes are usually described by Langevin's stochastic diffusion equation, which has also been applied to model certain social processes.

The approach based on such equations has several advantages:

1. As already mentioned, it allows one to take into account the manifestations of individual participants' free will, as well as other random manifestations of the environment external to the social system.

2. The social system's behavior can be calculated both for the whole of it and for its individual elements.

3. With this approach, it is possible to identify some characteristic stable modes of social systems' functioning, depending on different initial conditions.

4. Diffusion equations as mathematical tools are sufficiently validated to be used in numerical simulation.

The model is based on the idea that individuals interact in society through a communication field - h. This field, which is created by each individual in society, models the information interaction between individuals.

However, it should be understood that we are talking here about a society that is hardly attributable as an object in the classical physical spatial topology.

According to Dr. Petukhov, from the point of view of information transfer between individuals, the space in society combines both classical spatial coordinates and additional specific features. This is explained by the fact that in the modern information world there is no need to be close to the object of influence in order to convey information to this object.

"Thus, society is a multidimensional, social and physical space reflecting the ability of one individual to "reach" another individual with his communication field, that is, to influence that individual, his parameters and the ability to move in a given space," notes Alexander Petukhov.

Accordingly, the individual's position relative to other individuals in such a space provides a model of the level of the relationship between them and of their involvement in information exchange. When individuals are located close to each other in this model, it means that there is a regular exchange of information between them, and a social connection has been established. In this context, the variant of interaction between individuals or groups of individuals resulting in a dramatic increase in the distance (i.e., the social distance ?x = xi - xj, where x is the coordinate in the social and physical space, i, j = [1, N], where N is the number of individuals or consolidated groups of individuals) between them should be considered a conflict.

Therefore, assuming that an individual is similar to a Brownian particle with a certain radius of influence on other individuals, the communication field can be represented using the diffusion equation.

Based on the approach presented above and the model developed by Lobachevsky University researchers, the following characteristic patterns and dependences on the initial and boundary conditions were revealed:

1. Specific boundary conditions were established, with the account of external influence and control, under which the grounds for the emergence of social conflict and its aggravation are created. Such conditions are determined by the social system parameters.

2. A characteristic region of stability for a social system was found. In this region, which is determined by phase trajectories, a relatively small social distance is maintained between the objects under study. This situation is characteristic of population groups that are actively interacting and are in a continuous information contact. At the same time, it was observed how this region changes, depending on the influence of the conflict management function.

3. By determining and correlating these boundary states with the introduced parametrization of the control function, it is possible to determine the patterns corresponding to certain modern ethno-social conflicts. Thus, this model can be used as a tool for predicting conflict dynamics and for producing conflict settlement scenarios.

It was also proved in the course of these studies that the transition of a distributed multicomponent cognitive system from a stable state to an unstable one is a threshold effect. According to Alexander Petukhov, the experiments performed by Lobachevsky University researchers have revealed the specific parameters required to control such a system: they determine the transition from a stable state to an unstable one, which makes it possible, with full control of such parameters, to create conditions for the emergence of a social conflict, or, on the contrary, to prevent it.

"By developing this approach in the future, we will be able to create on its basis a tool for adequate forecasting of social conflicts", Alexander Petukhov sums up.
-end-


Lobachevsky University

Related Conflict Articles:

Violence against conflict-affected teenage girls in Africa is widespread
A majority of displaced adolescent girls are victimized by violence, according to a new study in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.
When the smoke clears... tobacco control in post-conflict settings
In new research published today by King's College London - Institute of Cancer Policy and the Conflict & Health Research Group in the journal ecancermedicalscience, the difficulties of prioritizing preventable disease and long term health issues in post conflict zones are explored.
Brain circuit enables split-second decisions when cues conflict
MIT researchers have identified a circuit in the brain that is critical for governing how we respond to conflicting environmental cues.
When people prepare for conflict, dominant leaders take the stage
One popular theory holds that dominant leaders are supported by those who fear new situations and threats.
Why do killer whales go through menopause? Mother-daughter conflict is key
Killer whales are one of only three species that are known to go through menopause, surviving long after they've stopped reproducing.
The conflict between science and religion lies in our brains
The conflict between science and religion may have its origins in the structure of our brains.
Hope for peace may be encouraged by enemies in Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Jewish Israelis may feel more hopeful when they hear messages of hope from Palestinians regardless of whether they are portrayed as peace activists or former militia members who had attacked Israeli military targets, according to new research published in Social Psychological and Personality Science.
HIV spreads faster as violent conflict looms
A new Brown University analysis of HIV incidence in 36 sub-Saharan African countries finds that new HIV infections rise significantly in the five years before armed conflict breaks out.
Highly religious Americans are less likely to see conflict between faith and science
Highly religious Americans are less likely than others to see conflict between faith and science.
Reduced conflict-related brain activity may indicate risk for psychosis
Researchers led by Bradley S. Peterson, M.D., director of the Institute for the Developing Mind at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, have shown that lower levels of conflict-related brain activity are associated with a higher risk for later psychosis.

Related Conflict Reading:

The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict
by THE ARBINGER INSTITUTE (Author)

Resolving Everyday Conflict
by Ken Sande (Author), Kevin Johnson (Author)

Conflict without Casualties: A Field Guide for Leading with Compassionate Accountability
by Nate Regier Ph.D. (Author)

HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict (HBR Guide Series)
by Amy Gallo (Author)

The High-Conflict Couple: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy Guide to Finding Peace, Intimacy, and Validation
by Alan E. Fruzzetti (Author), Marsha M. Linehan (Foreword)

Conflict Communication (ConCom): A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication
by Rory Miller (Author)

The Coward's Guide to Conflict: Empowering Solutions for Those Who Would Rather Run Than Fight
by Tim Ursiny (Author)

Conflict: 2nd Edition
by Daniel Druckman (Author), Larissa Fast (Author), Sandra I. Cheldelin (Editor)

Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair
by Sarah Schulman (Author)

The Strategy of Conflict: With a New Preface by the Author
by Thomas C. Schelling (Author)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Why We Hate
From bullying to hate crimes, cruelty is all around us. So what makes us hate? And is it learned or innate? This hour, TED speakers explore the causes and consequences of hate — and how we can fight it. Guests include reformed white nationalist Christian Picciolini, CNN commentator Sally Kohn, podcast host Dylan Marron, and writer Anand Giridharadas.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#482 Body Builders
This week we explore how science and technology can help us walk when we've lost our legs, see when we've gone blind, explore unfriendly environments, and maybe even make our bodies better, stronger, and faster than ever before. We speak to Adam Piore, author of the book "The Body Builders: Inside the Science of the Engineered Human", about the increasingly amazing ways bioengineering is being used to reverse engineer, rebuild, and augment human beings. And we speak with Ken Thomas, spacesuit engineer and author of the book "The Journey to Moonwalking: The People That Enabled Footprints on the Moon" about...