Galesic, Mirta; Henrik Olsson; Jonas Dalege; Tamara van der Does and Daniel L. Stein

Belief change and spread have been studied in many disciplines-- from psychology, sociology, economics and philosophy, to computer science and statistical physics-- but we still do not have a firm grasp on why some beliefs change and spread easier than others. To fully capture the complex social-cognitive system that give rise to belief dynamics, we need to integrate the findings of these disciplines into a single framework. Communication between disciplines is limited, and there is a lack of theoretical comparisons and empirical tests of the many different models of belief dynamics. Here we first review insights about structural components and processes of belief dynamics studied in different disciplines, focusing particularly on previously neglected but important areas such as cognitive representations and strategies used to integrate information. We then outline a unifying framework that enables theoretical and empirical comparisons of different belief dynamic models. The framework is quantified using a statistical physics formalism, grounded in cognitive and social theory as well as empirical observations. We show how the framework can be used to integrate numerous previous models and develop a more comprehensive science of belief dynamics.