A bistable belief dynamics model for radicalization within sectarian conflict

We introduce a two-variable lattice model to describe conflict within communities. Our model includes polarization and radicalization of individuals, each of which harbors a continuous belief variable and a discrete radicalization level describing their tolerance to others. A novel feature of our work is the incorporation of a bistable radicalization process that models memory-dependent social behavior and that may explain contradicting observations on the role of social segregation in exacerbating or alleviating conflicts. We further include institutional influence, such as through propaganda or education, and examine its effectiveness. In some parameter regimes, we find that institutional influence may suppress radicalization and allow for social conformity and appeasement over time. In other cases, institutional intervention may be counterproductive and exacerbate the spread of radicalization within a non-homogeneous population. In such instances, our analysis implies that social segregation may be a viable option against sectarian conflict.