An existing model of opinion dynamics on an adaptive social network is extended to introduce update policy heterogeneity, representing the fact that individual differences between social animals can affect their tendency to form, and be influenced by, their social bonds with other animals. As in the original model, the opinions and social connections of a population of model agents change due to three social processes: conformity, homophily and neophily. Here, however, we explore the case in which each node’s susceptibility to these three processes is parameterised by node-specific values drawn independently at random from some distribution. This introduction of heterogeneity increases both the degree of extremism and connectedness in the final population (relative to comparable homogeneous networks) and leads to significant assortativity with respect to node update policy parameters as well as node opinions. Each node’s update policy parameters also predict properties of the community that they will belong to in the final network configuration. These results suggest that update policy heterogeneity in social populations may have a significant impact on the formation of extremist communities in real-world populations.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For a full description of the license, please visit