Breadth verses depth: the impact of tree structure on cultural influence

Abstract Cultural spread in social networks and organisations is an important and longstanding issue. In this paper we assess this role of tree structures in facilitating cultural diversity. Cultural features are repre- sented using abstract traits that are held by individual agents, which may transfer when neighbouring agents interact through the network struc- ture. We use an agent-based model that incorporates both the combined social pressure and influence from an agent's neighbours. We perform a multivariate study where the number of features and traits represent- ing culture are varied, alongside the breadth and depth of the tree. The results reveal interesting findings on cultural diversity. Increasing the number of features promotes strong convergence in flatter trees as com- pared to narrower and deeper trees. At the same time increasing features causes narrower deeper trees to show greater cultural pluralism while flat- ter trees instead show greater cultural homogenisation. We also find that in contrast to previous work, the polarisation between nodes does not rise steadily as the number of traits increase but under certain conditions may also fall. The results have implications for organisational structures - in particular for hierarchies where depth supports cultural divergence, while breadth promotes greater homogeneity, but with increased coor- dination overhead on the root nodes. These observations also support subsidiarity in deep organisational structures - it is not just a case of communication length promoting subsidiarity, but local cultural differ- ences are more likely to be sustained within these structures.
  • Rhodri Morris (Cardiff)
  • Liam Turner (Cardiff)
  • Roger Whitaker (Cardiff)
  • Cheryl Giammanco (ARL)
Date Oct-2020
Venue 2020 International Conference on Social Computing, Behavioral-Cultural Modeling & Prediction and Behavior Representation in Modeling and Simulation on Oct-19-22 [link]