Complexity

Complexity / 2017 / Article

Research Article | Open Access

Volume 2017 |Article ID 5724925 | 16 pages | https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/5724925

A Network Diffusion Model of Food Safety Scare Behavior considering Information Transparency

Academic Editor: Danilo Comminiello
Received16 Jun 2017
Revised14 Nov 2017
Accepted23 Nov 2017
Published21 Dec 2017

Abstract

This study constructs the network diffusion model of food safety scare behavior under the effect of information transparency and examines the network topology and evolution characteristics of food safety scare behavior in a numerical simulation. The main conclusions of this study are as follows. (1) Under the effect of information transparency, the network degree distribution of food safety scare behavior diffusion demonstrates the decreasing characteristics of diminishing margins. (2) Food safety scare behavior diffusion increases with the information dissemination rate and consumer concern about food safety incidents and shows the characteristics of monotone increasing. And with the increasing of the government food safety supervision information transparency and media food safety supervision information transparency, the whole is declining characteristic of diminishing marginal. In addition, the extinction of food safety scare behavior cannot be achieved gradually given a single regulation of government food safety supervision information transparency and media food safety supervision information transparency. (3) The interaction effects between improving government food safety supervision information transparency or media food safety supervision information transparency and declining consumer concerns about food safety incidents or information transmission rate can engender the suppression of food safety scare behavior diffusion.

1. Introduction

Food safety problem is given attention by governments and academics worldwide [1]. The losses caused by social panic are more than the direct losses of food safety incidents [2, 3] and have a serious impact on social stability and the development of the food industry [4].

Food safety scare behavior refers to the anxiety of consumers in a situation of information asymmetry. The combining research on food safety and consumer behavior mainly focuses on consumer concerns about food safety [57], purchase intention for safe food [812], and the risk perception of food safety [1317]. The idea that food safety information transparency eases food safety issues has been given increasing attention by scholars globally with the further development of food safety management. The analysis of the food safety management system and the appropriate information disclosure system can effectively control food safety [18]. Relying only on the market economy mechanism hardly guarantees food safety owing to the public nature of food safety and food risk information asymmetry [19]. Therefore, in order to overcome the deficiency of adjusting food safety problem only depending on market economy mechanism, the government food safety supervision department, which is the main provider of food safety supervision information and the most important subject of food safety supervise, should unite media and other subjects of social supervision to achieve food safety supervision information transparency [20, 21]. However, the research on the diffusion mechanisms and the evolution characteristics of food safety scare behavior are rare and not conducive to control and reduce the losses caused by food safety scare behavior diffusion. The present study, hence, attempts to introduce information transparency into the study of food safety scare behavior diffusion and analyze the evolution characteristics of food safety scare behavior diffusion under the effect of food safety supervision information transparency.

At present, the epidemic model was proposed based on the complex network theory, which has been widely used in various fields [12, 2023]. Studies on the epidemic model have been extensively used in biological and ecological applications [2426]. The epidemic model is being gradually extended to the field of Social Science, such as in technology and innovation diffusion (Sven & Johannes, 2013) [27], financial risk contagion [2830], and rumor spreading [31, 32]. These studies provide the necessary technological means for solving social problems. Developing the epidemic model can provide insight into the diffusion mechanism of infectious diseases and provide theoretical basis for devising a coupling strategy. Food safety scare behavior caused by food safety incidents can spread through a certain medium to healthy consumers [12]. Therefore, food safety scare behavior is a typical diffusion problem, and similar mechanisms exist with the spread of infectious diseases. Moreover, the existing empirical study results confirm that improving food safety supervision information transparency can reduce the adverse effects caused by food safety incidents [20, 21]. The present study, thus, uses the epidemic model for constructing the network diffusion model of food safety scare behavior under the effect of the information transparency, analyzes the diffusion mechanisms of different information transparency of food safety scare behavior, and provides a reference for the control of the adverse social impact of food safety scare behavior diffusion.

The structure of this study is organized as follows. Section 2 analyzes the epidemic mechanisms of food safety scare behavior under the effect of information transparency. Section 3 constructs the network diffusion model of food safety scare behavior under different information transparency. Section 4 theoretically analyzes the network topology characteristics of the food safety scare behavior under the effect of information transparency. Section 5 discusses the network topology characteristics and evolution characteristics of food safety scare behavior under different information transparency and provides strategies for controlling food safety scare behavior diffusion. Section 6 concludes this paper.

2. Epidemic Mechanisms of Food Safety Scare Behavior Diffusion under the Effect of Information Transparency

2.1. Adaptability Analysis of Epidemic Model of Food Safety Scare Behavior Diffusion

Epidemic model is a classic virus propagation model and has been widely used in the study of social behavior diffusion [3336]. The essence of an infectious disease is a virus carrier, a pathogen, which infects its own virus to contacts through a certain medium [37]. Food safety scare behavior diffusion means that consumers’ food safety scare behavior spreads to contacts through various diffusion media. Food safety scare behavior is a virus that affects the population, and similar mechanisms exist in the process of spreading. The principal representations are as follows.

(1) Pathogen–Diffusion Source. Food safety scare behavior diffusion is mainly due to the public’s concern about food safety issues [38]. Diffusion source means that consumers’ food safety scare behavior can spread among consumers through diffusion media, which results in a significant herd effect.

(2) Infectious Medium–Diffusion Medium. A diffusion medium is a carrier of the diffusion source, such as the Internet, mobile phones, TVs, and face-to-face communication between consumers. Food safety information spread by diffusion media is related to the health and life safety of consumers, and the transparency of food safety information affects consumers’ confidence in food safety [20, 21].

(3) Infectiousness. Consumers affected by food safety scare transfer the information of their cognitive psychology and behavioral deviations to healthy consumers through diffusion media under the effect of information transparency. This transfer of information shows consumers’ concern degree and cognitive psychology deviation that engender scare behavior. Therefore, food safety scare behavior is contagious. Under information transparency, consumers who are affected by food safety scare spread their own mental state, behavioral deviation, and other information through kinship and work relationships to influence consumers in their healthy state, thereby engendering food safety scare behavior (Figure 1).

(4) Immunity. Consumers can obtain adequate information on food safety after the outbreak of food safety incidents when food safety information transparency is high [5, 39] and, thus, have a clear understanding of the food safety incidents. Consequently, food safety scare behavior hardly affects such consumers. This type of consumers shows an immune response to food safety scare behavior. However, consumers have difficulty in obtaining adequate food safety information to identify rumors about food safety incidents when food safety information transparency is low. Therefore, food safety scare behavior easily affects such consumers.

The spread of food safety scare behavior diffusion has a similar epidemic mechanism under the effect of information transparency. However, the subjects of food safety supervision information are complex and diverse, and many interests in the process of transparency are driven. Accordingly, food safety scare behavior in the diffusion process is more complex compared with the spread of the virus. Therefore, using the epidemic model to analyze the diffusion mechanisms and the evolution characteristics of different information transparency of food safety scare behavior is scientific and feasible. Using this model can provide a reference for the control of food safety scare behavior diffusion. Table 1 shows that the key concepts in the epidemic model are transferred to food safety scare behavior diffusion.


Food safety scare behavior diffusionMeaning

Diffusion sourceConsumers’ food safety scare behavior
Healthy consumersConsumers are not affected by food safety scare behavior
Infected consumersConsumers influenced by diffusion source are affected by food safety scare behavior
Immune consumersConsumers who are not affected or have been affected by food safety scare behavior get rid of this behavior through adjustment
Diffusion rateConsumers affected food safety scare behavior in the proportion of healthy consumers
Immunization rateConsumers who are not affected by food safety scare behavior or those who have been affected and then got rid of this behavior through adjustment in the proportion of healthy consumers

2.2. Diffusion Mechanism of Food Safety Scare Behavior

Market information is distorted after the outbreak of food safety incidents. When information transparency is low, consumers who have a low cognitive level, weak psychological quality, and poor information search ability cannot fully perceive and discriminate the real effect of food safety incidents and have an objective understanding of the food safety incidents, which lead to cognitive psychology and behavioral deviations [20, 21, 40, 41]. Then, this can make consumers confuse major food safety accidents with ordinary food events and make it easy to initiate consumers’ general panic to food safety. Some consumers have food safety scare behavior, whereas others are in a state of potential panic. Consumers who have food safety scare behavior spread their own mental state and behavioral deviation and other information to the outside environment through kinship and work relationships and influence healthy consumers. Furthermore, food safety scare behavior may also be transferred to consumers who have poor psychological quality and lack food safety information [42]. Consumers with food safety scare behavior can get rid of food safety scare because of the improvement of food safety knowledge and the increase of market objective information. Therefore, consumers are divided into three states after the outbreak of food safety incidents. represents the number of consumers who do not have food safety scare behavior: the health state. represents the number of consumers with food safety scare behavior: the infection state. represents the number of consumers who are not affected by food safety scare behavior or those who have been affected and then got rid of this behavior through adjustment: the immune state.

The transition of consumers in the health state , infection state , and immune state follows the following diffusion rules (Figure 2).

After the outbreak of food safety incidents, if the supervision information transparency issued by the government supervision department is low, then consumers’ food safety scare behavior diffuses to healthy consumers at the rate of (). Moreover, if the food safety supervision information transparency reported by the media is low, then consumers’ food safety scare behavior further diffuses to healthy consumers at the rate of ().

Some consumers have strong psychological qualities and knowledge of food safety; hence, they are free of food safety scare behavior and are in the immune state with the probability of (). The media have a high transparency of the information on food safety supervision, which prompted some health consumers to be directed into the immune state with the probability of ().

If the government supervision department on food safety supervision information is transparent, then consumers with food safety scare behavior can get rid of food safety scare behavior and be directed into the immune state with the probability of (). Furthermore, if the food safety supervision information transparency reported by media is high, then consumers with food safety scare behavior can get rid of food safety scare behavior and be directed into the immune state with the probability of .

In each period, the rate of entry for consumers is () and the exit rate is ().

3. Network Diffusion Model of Food Safety Scare Behavior under Different Information Transparency

3.1. Constructing Model

To construct the network diffusion model of food safety scare behavior, we assume as the total number of consumers in food safety incidents. represent the proportion of healthy, infected, and immune consumers, respectively: , and (). The density of the infected consumers, whose degree of is at the moment , is assumed. The probability that the healthy consumers are connected with the infected consumers is .

Market information has a certain impact on individual behavior; thus, Gilpin and Ayala [43] define the information diffusion model.where represents the number of individuals with information in the process of information diffusion, is the rate of information dissemination, which represents the ability of each individual with information to transmit information (), represents the total number of individuals in a population and is a constant, and represents the public’s sensitivity to events ().

The Gilpin–Ayala information diffusion model states that if factors that affect the information transparency of food safety scare behavior diffusion, which includes government food safety supervision information transparency [20, 21] and consumer concerns about food safety incidents [57], are combined, then is defined as follows:where represents the rate of information dissemination (), represents government food safety supervision information transparency (), and represents consumer concerns about food safety incidents ().

The Gilpin–Ayala information diffusion model is used with the effect of food safety scare behavior information transparency factors, which include media food safety supervision information transparency [20, 21] and consumer concerns about food safety incidents [57]; is defined as follows:where and have the same definitions of the diffusion rate and represents media food safety supervision information transparency ().

Based on mean field theory [4447] and the abovementioned hypothesis, the differential equations of the network diffusion model of food safety scare behavior under the effect of information transparency are

3.2. Analyzing Model

According to (4), for the steady-state condition , the steady-state value becomes .

The average infected consumer density becomes . Based on formula (5), becomeswhere represents the average degree of food safety scare behavior diffusion.

Given that and , (5) and (6) can be combined as follows:

Given that , (7) has a trivial solution: . If (7) has a nontrivial solution, , then the necessary condition becomes

Therefore,

Thus, the basic reproduction number of food safety scare behavior diffusion under different information transparency is (the basic reproduction number indicates that the average number of individuals who are susceptible to infection before infection is recovered [48].   corresponds to the threshold of the extinction of the diffusion. The diffusion becomes extinct gradually when . The diffusion occurs with nonzero probability when . The greater the value of is, the greater the probability of diffusion becomes).

Equation (10) shows that the basic reproduction number is obtained by acquiring the degree distribution function of food safety scare behavior under the effect of information transparency.

4. Network Topology Characteristics of Food Safety Scare Behavior under Different Information Transparency

The node in the food safety scare behavior diffusion network represents the consumer in the food safety scare behavior diffusion. Two consumers are connected to the side. The algorithm is described as follows.

   consumers with food safety scare behavior and sides () exist at .

At each period (), consumers with food safety scare behavior are increased in the network, and every new consumer has sides ().

Without considering the factors of information transparency, the new consumers connect the consumer with food safety scare behavior randomly in the proportion of or connect the consumer with food safety scare behavior preferentially in the proportion of (). When information transparency is introduced, the probability of random connection is

The probability that any existing consumer is selected in random linking is . The probability that any existing consumer is selected in preferential linking is .where represents the degree of existing consumer .

The above algorithm shows that the change rate of degree of consumer can be expressed as follows:

Given that , (13) can be translated into the following:where , , and . The initial condition can obtain . Therefore, the solution of (14) is

When consumers enter the network at every similar period, the probability density of the selected time node is

When , is

Equations (16) and (17) are combined to obtain

Based on (19), the degree distribution function of food safety scare behavior diffusion network is

Equation (20) is integrated with (10); hence,

Equation (21) shows that the effect on the rate of information dissemination , consumer concerns about food safety incidents , government food safety supervision information transparency , and media food safety supervision information transparency on the basic reproductive number can be analyzed.

5. Analogue Simulation

Numerical simulation analysis is the most effective way for testing without a large number of empirical validations of real-time dynamic data [49]. Therefore, we can assume and given the different parameters. We can simulate the network topology characteristics and evolution characteristics of food safety scare behavior under the effect of information transparency using the MATLAB R2012b software.

5.1. Analysis of Network Topology Characteristics of Food Safety Scare Behavior under Different Information Transparency

To describe the network topology characteristics of food safety scare behavior under the effect of information transparency with the different rates of information dissemination , consumers concern about food safety incidents , government food safety supervision information transparency , and media food safety supervision information transparency , the impact of network topology on the food safety scare behavior diffusion is simulated (Figure 3). The initial values are , and .

Figure 3 shows that the network degree distribution of food safety scare behavior diffusion under the effect of information transparency shows the decreasing characteristic of diminishing margins. The comparative analysis of Figures 3(a), 3(b), 3(c), and 3(d) shows that the information transmission rate , consumer concerns about food safety incidents , government food safety supervision information transparency , and media food safety supervision information transparency have different effects on the network degree distribution of food safety scare diffusion behavior, whose prominence is as follows: government food safety supervision information transparency on the network distribution of food safety scare diffusion behavior, consumer concerns about food safety incidents on the network degree distribution of food safety scare behavior diffusion, the rate of information dissemination on the network degree distribution of food safety scare behavior diffusion, and media food safety supervision information transparency on the network degree distribution of food safety scare behavior diffusion. Moreover, Figure 3 shows that the sensitivity of network degree distribution of food safety scare behavior diffusion is enhanced along with the increase of the rate of information dissemination or consumer concerns about food safety incidents . The sensitivity of the network degree distribution of food safety scare behavior diffusion reduces along with the increase of government food safety supervision information transparency or media food safety supervision information transparency .

In order to better describe the influence of the speed of information dissemination, consumers’ attention to food safety accidents, the government food safety supervision information transparency, and media food safety supervision information transparency on network topology characteristics of food safety panic behavior diffusion, under the circumstance of , and , we conduct sensitivity analysis on , , , and , as shown in Tables 2 and 3.


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