Luís A. Nunes Amaral

co-Director, Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems
Professor of Chemical & Biological Engineering
Professor of Physics & Astronomy (by courtesy)
Professor of Medicine (by courtesy)

Chemical & Biological Engineering
2145 Sheridan Road (Room E136)
EvanstonIL 60208US
Phone: (847) 491-7850


We use agent-based modeling to investigate the effect of conservatism and partisanship on the efficiency with which large populations solve the density classification task - a paradigmatic problem for information aggregation and consensus building. We find that conservative agents enhance the populations' ability to efficiently solve the density classification task despite large levels of noise in the system. In contrast, we find that the presence of even a small fraction of partisans holding the minority position will result in deadlock or a consensus on an incorrect answer. Our results provide a possible explanation for the emergence of conservatism and suggest that even low levels of partisanship can lead to significant social costs.