The European Physical Journal B

, Volume 67, Issue 3, pp 369–375 | Cite as

Micro-bias and macro-performance

  • S. M.D. Seaver
  • A. A. Moreira
  • M. Sales-Pardo
  • R. D. Malmgren
  • D. Diermeier
  • L. A.N. Amaral
Interdisciplinary Physics Regular Article


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.


87.23.Ge Dynamics of social systems 89.75.-k Complex systems 


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Copyright information

© EDP Sciences, SIF, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. M.D. Seaver
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. A. Moreira
    • 3
  • M. Sales-Pardo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • R. D. Malmgren
    • 1
    • 2
  • D. Diermeier
    • 2
    • 5
  • L. A.N. Amaral
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Chemical and Biological EngineeringNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  2. 2.Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems, Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  3. 3.Departamento de FísicaUniversidade Federal do CearáCearáBrazil
  4. 4.Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences InstituteChicagoUSA
  5. 5.Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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