Taylor, M., S. Allard, A. Bentley, C. Luther, O. Manaev, B. Prins and N. Rice – Monitoring the Content and Measuring the Effectiveness of Russian Disinformation and Propaganda Campaigns in Selected Former Soviet Union States. MINERVA Research Initiative. Department of Defense, 2019.
Bentley, A. and C. Luther – , “Advanced Warning of Evolving Social Media Effects (AWESoME)” , University of Tennessee, Office of Research & Engagement, Mission Agency Research Seed Program Grant, 2019.
Gavrilets S – Integrating structural theories of revolution with evolutionary models to predict societal resilience and (in)stability. US Army Research Office (2018-2020)
In this project, we will leverage and advance recent and current DoD investments in the study of societal resilience by integrating structural theories of revolution from political science with recent advances in theoretical biology, economics, sociology, psychology, and cultural evolution. Various structural and transient causes of a revolutionary situation operate on different time scales. Demographic changes occur on the slowest "macro" scale. The growth in political and economic inequality among the elites and the general population groups takes place on the intermediate "meso" scale. The psychological perception of the ongoing political and/or economic situation and the strength of political support for government and opposition can change very rapidly on the fastest "micro" scale. Our overall goal is to develop, link, and apply various modeling approaches for each of these time scales.
Shteynberg G – Social bases of attitudinal extremetization: Shared attention versus attitudinal simulation. NSF (2018-2021)
The extremetization and divergence in political attitudes hinders our nation's ability to solve its pressing problems. This project examines the ways in which attitudinal extremetization is a result of the human capacity for 'shared attention'—the ability to sense that one is attending to information with others simultaneously. Several research groups have found that sharing attention on information leads to more extreme emotions and attitudes, yet why this occurs is unknown. One possibility is that during shared attention, people are more likely to imagine the attitudes of those who co-attend with them. By imagining the attitudes of many others, one's own attitudes can grow more extreme. Another possibility is that people are more likely to pay more attention to ideas under shared attention. When those ideas happen to represent only one view, the view dominates one's thoughts, resulting in more extreme attitudes. Interestingly, the independent existence of both of these possibilities would suggest that shared attention is a psychologically powerful cause of extreme attitudes.
Prins B – Democratic peace and the importance of territorial contention.
This project explores territorial contention as a critical underlying driver of inter-state political violence.
Prins B – Evaluating the causes and consequences of terrorism in democratic states.
This project examines the underlying structural conditions associated with terrorist violence in modern democratic states. Similar to political insurgency, terrorist violence is precipitated by both relative deprivation and state weakness. But it remains unclear whether grievances drive domestic terrorism in both strong and weak states. Consequently, increasing state capacity may not be a panacea for anti-state violence as non-state actors may simply change their strategy from insurgency or guerrilla warfare to terrorism. Efforts to reduce terrorist violence must focus on reducing grievance by eliminating discriminatory policies at the same time as measures to improve state capacity are enacted.
Ruck D, Bentley RA, Lawson D – Modeling the multivariate change in world values since the early 20th century. Research Councils UK.
In this project, we use careful statistical techniques to characterize culture value change in different nations of the world during the 20th century, using the World Values Survey. The research concerns long-term changes in factors emerging from the survey data, such as secularization or cooperative values, how they interact, and whether these changes have a causal relationship with economic, political or demographic shifts in the past 100 years.
Van de Moortel A – Research grant from the Institute for Aegean Prehistory for the 2018 study season of the Mitrou Archaeological Project in Greece.
Gavrilets S – High-performance computing for agent-based modeling of between-group conflicts. Office of the Naval Research (2017-2018)
The requested computational equipment will greatly enhance the quality and efficiency of the PI's research on complex social behaviors by allowing much faster and wider numerical exploration of mathematical models which in turn will lead to better understanding of complex social phenomena and more precise predictions.
Fefferman N – Modeling the emergence of leaders in self-organizing social networks. Dept. of Homeland Security (2017)
The goal of this effort is to understand how different types of self-organizing strategies of affiliation and influence allow or foster some individuals to emerge as leaders. Are there circumstances under which such individuals can be identified prior to their emergence? If so, which information about the network and it's affiliation strategy allows these insights?
Bentley RA, Ruck D – Evaluating neutral models of popular culture change for the digital age. University of Tennessee, College of Arts and Sciences (2016-2019)
How much of popular culture change can be explained by copying other people, as opposed to individual rational cost-benefit evaluations of the options themselves? How has this changed in the social media age? For over a decade, we have been evaluating models of "neutral" decision making and what the predictions are for aspects of popular culture, including the distribution of popularity, dynamics of turnover in what choices occupy the "most popular" lists, and the rise and fall in popularity of particular ideas. The contrast with predictions of rational-choice models allow us to evaluate how carefully-considered choices are in a certain genre, from choosing a name to music to even choosing what scientific subject to pursue as research. It also leads to some philosophical reflection on what it means to live in an online society with countless choices and ubiquitous "most popular" lists of various forms.
Fefferman N – Modeling Zika control effectiveness with feedback in risk perception and associated demand across scales of intervention. NSF (2016-2018)
The goal of this effort is to make recommendations to address two fundamental challenges: 'How much coordination in participation and synchrony of control efforts will be needed for effective protection from ZIKV, whether targeting spread into new regions or ongoing local transmission?' and conversely, 'Are there ways in which regions can enact independent control efforts to compensate for a lack of coordination to still achieve effective protection?'
Gavrilets S – Modeling the dynamics of conflict and cooperation within and between multifarious social groups. US Army Research Office (2014-2018)
The overarching goal of this project is to uncover basic theoretical foundations of human behavior at multiple levels, from individual actors to whole societies, for various temporal and spatial scales. This will be achieved by building a formal theory of the dynamics of conflict and cooperation within and between groups and societies comprised by heterogeneous agents and factions. The theory will investigate the role of biological social instincts, culture, cognition, and institutions in accounting for variations in human social behavior.
Bentley RA, O'Brien M, Brock W – The dynamics of discrete choices under social influence. (2014-2017)
Cultural learning represents a novel problem in that an optimal decision depends not only on intrinsic utility of the decision/behavior but also on transparency of costs and benefits, the degree of social versus individual learning, and the relative popularity of each possible choice in a population. We use discrete-choice theory to model the dynamics of decision-making in context with these two "axes" of variation —transparency of choice and strength of social influence — as well has how to "map" specific real-world datasets in terms of these two axes.
Fefferman N – The formation and impact of structure in self-organizing networks of untrained clandestine operatives. Dept. of Homeland Security (2014-2016)
The goal of this effort is to understand how newly-recruited, naive operatives may form contact networks to undertake clandestine operations. The study focuses on the balance between efficient communication and insulation from discovery. We consider recruitment, ongoing self-organization, robustness to detection and infiltration, and efficiency and effectiveness in task completion.
Prins B – Maritime piracy event & location data project. Office of Naval Research (11/2013-12/2017)
Research on maritime piracy consists largely of case studies of countries or regions with particularly pressing piracy problems. We therefore lack systematic explanations and analyses of piracy globally and regionally speaking. In part, this problem stems from the absence of comprehensive and systematic data on pirate attacks. While several international organizations (such as the IMB) collect information on piracy incidents, no unified data source exists to date. In addition, only recently have social scientists begun to explore the puzzle of piracy and connect pirates to other violent non-state actors and mafia-style criminal organizations. Our research provides new data, new analytical tools, and novel insights into the emergence and persistence of modern maritime piracy.
Anderson DG et al.– Digital Index of North American Archaeology (DINAA). NSF (2012-2018).
The DINAA project is building an open source community resource for linking and sharing important nonsensitive scientific and cultural digital information about archaeological sites. DINAA currently contains information integrated from 15 states, representing ca. 500,000 sites in Eastern North America, and we have coordinated our efforts with a number of other heritage, research, and informatics entities. http://ux.opencontext.org/archaeology-site-data/
DySoC is affiliated with The University of Tennessee, Knoxville