COMPUTATIONAL SOCIAL SCIENCE

DOCTORAL DISSERTATION PROPOSAL DEFENSE - NELSON

DOCTORAL DISSERTATION PROPOSAL DEFENSE
Wednesday, September 30, 10:00 a.m.
92 Research Hall

A Computational Model of Belief System - Discovery and Expression
in American Democracy

John Bjorn Nelson, Ph.D.
Computational Social Science Program
Department of Computational and Data Sciences

Abstract: This is a dissertation about people and their beliefs. It asks, how do beliefs form? How are they expressed? Why do they change? I assume the social and institutional context matters. A person affects his environment; and, the environment affects him. From a research perspective, it may be difficult to consider either aspect in isolation. To cope with such challenges, I build an agent-based model. In this model, the agent plays a game of beliefs. It expresses its opinions and observes the expressions of others. The agent’s environment – its simulated social and institutional context – affects both activities. With this design, I interrogate belief systems empirically. In particular, I compare my simulation outcomes to observations drawn from survey data and election results.