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Spiral of Silence

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Edited by: Published: 2008
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Originally developed in the early 1970s by German political scientist and pollster Elisabeth Noelle -Neumann, the spiral of silence remains one of the few theoretical approaches that attempts to understand public opinion from a process-oriented perspective. The general conceptual premise of this theory is that there are different styles of communicative behavior for those who are in the majority versus those in the minority for a given issue.

According to the theory, those who are in the majority are more likely to feel confident in expressing their opinions, while those in the minority fear that expressing their views will result in social ostracism, and therefore they remain silent. These perceptions can lead to a spiraling process, in which majority viewpoints are publicly overrepresented, while minority viewpoints ...

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