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Here`s how trends take off


Washington: A team of researchers has determined how groups make decisions.

From Beats headphones’ rise to prominence or a political candidate’s surge in the polls to how ants and bees select a new nest site, decisions emerging from groups frequently occur without a leader.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have developed a model that explains how groups make collective decisions when no single member of the group has access to all possible information or the ability to make and communicate a final decision.

The de-centralized decision-making model shows how positive feedback during the exploration process proves useful for making good and quick decisions.

Throughout the presidential primary process, people are trying to find an ideal candidate in a crowded landscape. The person in the lead – say Donald Trump – gets more media coverage and attention, which could lead to more people thinking about voting for him based on name recognition, said researcher David Hagmann.

Hagmann, along with Russell Golman and John H. Miller, developed the mathematical model based on two elements: recruitment with positive feedback, where initially popular options get reinforced, and quorum sensing, where enough support for a given choice triggers a final decision.

Using a Polya urn scheme – a statistical model in which balls of different colors are repeatedly drawn from a container and previously picked colors become more likely to be drawn again – the researchers were able to look at how long it takes to make decisions and calculate their accuracy.

Being a bit risk-averse when deciding on, say, where to relocate thousands of bees, is the evolutionarily safe choice. “When everyone has to do the same thing, you want to be slow and steady to avoid extreme choices,” Golman said.

The process could also be used to explain how the brain’s neurons work.

The model also helps explain how trends take off, such as the popularity of Beats headphones, and the success of word-of-mouth marketing tactics.

The study appears in Science Advances. (ANI)

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