Accueil > Sociophysics: can we predict social and political behavior?

IFCO 2320 - Sociophysics: can we predict social and political behavior?

Type d'enseignement : Lecture alone

Semester : Autumn 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English

Voir les plans de cours et bibliographies


Sociophysics aims at a physics-like breakthrough in our understanding of human behavior. Accordingly, taking this course means that you have a keen interest in understanding the way in which physicists have been able to discover the hidden laws of nature using equations. This is an essential key since the class involves a bit of physics and a few equations, however there is no mathematical prerequisite for this course. The underlying deal being that while each equation is explained in details to allow the mathematically-reluctants to understand, in return curiosity and readiness to sustain attention during those explanations are expected.

Course Description

This series of twelve talks is unique in the world of social science institutions. It will introduce Sociophysics, a new emerging field, which combines concepts and tools from the physics of disorder and collective phenomena to build models, which describe different aspects of people's social and political behavior. Initiated more than 35 years ago, Sociophysics has become a flourishing field of international research at the edge of the unknown. As the result of the development of Sociophysics, new, unexpected and disturbing light has been shed on free will, participative democracy, the spreading of minority opinion, unexpected and brutal societal breakdowns, controversies, the emergence of rumors, radicalization, terrorism, war and peace. Consequently, a number of fundamental views on policy-making are being called into question, which makes the invention of new democratic paradigms a must. The challenge of the course is threefold, adopting a different cognitive approach to social reality, understanding the language of mathematical modeling, and discovering the amazing power of the physicist-like methodology to capture parts of the social reality. It will be up to us to take on the challenge!


  • ERNST-VINTILA, Andreea (Maître de conférences)
  • GALAM, Serge (Directeur de recherche au CNRS)

Pedagogical format

The lectures will be unique and experimental. Participants will be contributing to a large-scale experiment on the unexpected transmission of the hard sciences to social science students.

Course validation

Team work: oral presentation (15 minutes) followed by questions and answers (15 minutes) and a follow-up written part (6 pages) to present a scientific paper (40%). Final take-home paper (60%) by groups.

Required reading

  • S. Galam, «Sociophysics: A Physicist's Modeling of Psycho-political Phenomena », Springer (2012)
  • S. Galam, « Stubbornness as an unfortunate key to win a public debate: an illustration from sociophysics », Mind and Society (2015) DOI 10.1007/s11299-015-0175-y
  • S. Galam and M. A. Javarone, « Modeling Radicalization Phenomena in Heterogeneous Populations », PLoS ONE 11(5): e0155407 (2016)
  • T. Bouzdine-Chameeva and S. Galam, « Word-of-mouth versus experts and reputation in the individual dynamics of wine purchasing », Advances in Complex Systems 14 (2011) 871-885
  • S. Galam, « From 2000 Bush-Gore to 2006 Italian elections: voting at fifty-fifty and the contrarian effect », Quality and Quantity Journal 41 (2007) 579-589

Plans de cours et bibliographies