Speed-accuracy trade-offs in best-of-n collective decision making through heterogeneous mean-field modeling

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To succeed in their objectives, groups of individuals must be able to make quick and accurate collective decisions on the best option among a set of alternatives with different qualities. Group-living animals aim to do that all the time. Plants and fungi are thought to do so too. Swarms of autonomous robots can also be programed to make best-of-n decisions for solving tasks collaboratively. Ultimately, humans critically need it and so many times they should be better at it! Thanks to their mathematical tractability, simple models like the voter model and the local majority rule model have proven useful to describe the dynamics of such collective decision-making processes. To reach a consensus, individuals change their opinion by interacting with neighbors in their social network. At least among animals and robots, options with a better quality are exchanged more often and therefore spread faster than lower-quality options, leading to the collective selection of the best option. With our work, we study the impact of individuals making errors in pooling others' opinions caused, for example, by the need to reduce the cognitive load. Our analysis is grounded on the introduction of a model that generalizes the two existing models (local majority rule and voter model), showing a speed-accuracy trade-off regulated by the cognitive effort of individuals. We also investigate the impact of the interaction network topology on the collective dynamics. To do so, we extend our model and, by using the heterogeneous mean-field approach, we show the presence of another speed-accuracy trade-off regulated by network connectivity. An interesting result is that reduced network connectivity corresponds to an increase in collective decision accuracy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number054307
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical Physics, Plasmas, Fluids, and Related Interdisciplinary Topics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2024


  • opinion dynamics
  • best-of-n problem
  • complex network
  • collective behaviour
  • heterogeneous mean field


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