Assessing the sameness and non-rarity of hipsters

Hipsters are becoming more common, in both major senses of the word common, suggests this study:

touboulThe hipster effect: When anticonformists all look the same,” Jonathan Touboul, arXiv:1410.8001, October 29, 2014.

The author explains:

“In such different domains as statistical physics and spin glasses, neurosciences, social science, economics and finance, large ensemble of interacting individuals taking their decisions either in accordance (mainstream) or against (hipsters) the majority are ubiquitous. Yet, trying hard to be different often ends up in hipsters consistently taking the same decisions, in other words all looking alike. We resolve this apparent paradox studying a canonical model of statistical physics, enriched by incorporating the delays necessary for information to be communicated. We show a generic phase transition in the system: when hipsters are too slow in detecting the trends, they will keep making the same choices and therefore remain correlated as time goes by, while their trend evolves in time as a periodic function. This is true as long as the majority of the population is made of hipsters. Otherwise, hipsters will be, again, largely aligned, towards a constant direction which is imposed by the mainstream choices. Beyond the choice of the best suit to wear this winter, this study may have important implications in understanding dynamics of inhibitory networks of the brain or investment strategies finance, or the understanding of emergent dynamics in social science, domains in which delays of communication and the geometry of the systems are prominent.”

Touboul is, in his own words: Principal Investigator “of the Mathematical Neuroscience Team, part of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology of the Collège de France. I am researcher at Inria (Paris), in the MYCENAE Team.” He writes, in this paper, in the royal we. He does not explicitly self-identify as a hipster.

(Thanks to investigator Leah Branch for bringing this to our attention).

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