Microdynamics of Influence in Social Systems


Funding: Danish Council for Independent Research
Duration: 01.07.2015-30.06.2019

Spreading processes on social networks influence our opinions, what we buy, and which politicians we vote for, and companies such as Facebook and Google use complex algorithms to 'nudge' us to follow their recommendations. As society becomes increasingly algorithm-driven, it becomes increasingly important for citizens, governments, consumers and businesses to understand how influence in social network works. It is natural to assume that social influence processes are similar to the spread of diseases (epidemics), which we know a lot about, but an important difference is that social 'infection' in this case is likely to depend on the local structure of the social network.

The Microdynamics of Influence in Social Systems project aims to gain an experimentally-based understanding of how social transmission mechanisms differ from the simple disease transmission of epidemics. Insight into these mechanisms can be used to reinforce positive behaviour (e.g. exercise, safe sex, sustainability) or limit negative behaviour (e.g. smoking, poor diet or intolerance), and - importantly - they can potentially be abused. Gaining more insight into these viral processes will enable us, as a society, to make informed decisions about these technological developments.


Sune Lehmann Jørgensen
DTU Compute
+45 45 25 39 04