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date: 26 September 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter introduces the tenets of spiral of silence theory as a theory of group dynamics as it relates to the interplay among the media, interpersonal talk, and political discussion. After reviewing some of the findings related to its key propositions, its applicability to modern political communication and mass media research is questioned and fine-tuned. An argument is made that future researchers should abandoned the quest for evidence whether public opinion expression is guided by perceptions of the opinion climate, especially using ad hoc measures that have not been validated. Rather attention should be directed toward examining the role of social pressures in motivating information seeking about the opinion climate and how individual differences such as fear of isolation, attitude certainty, and moral conviction can influence the effect of those perceptions on publicly-observable political behavior.

Keywords: opinion expression, personality, public opinion, social pressure, group dynamics, information seeking, political discussion

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