ERIC Number: ED284256
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Aug
Reference Count: 0
A Multivariate Test of the Spiral of Silence Hypothesis.
Salmon, Charles T.; Neuwirth, Kurt
To clarify numerous points of contention surrounding Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann's spiral of silence theory, according to which individuals' media-influenced perception of their congruence or incongruence with dominant opinion determines their willingness to speak out in public, a study examined the relationship between opinion expression, perceived congruence, and several other variables. A telephone survey of opinions on the abortion issue among 432 residents of Madison, Wisconsin, tested the significance of the following factors in the relationship between opinion and expression: (1) individual's perception of the "dominant" opinion both nationally and locally; (2) demographic factors, including political party affiliation; (3) personal knowledge about the issue; (4) personal issue involvement; and (5) previous behavior toward the issue. Multiple regression was used to assess the relative contribution of all of the above factors in predicting willingness to speak out. The results provided only limited support for the spiral of silence theory. The resulting data showed a greater willingness among members of a minority opinion subgroup to publicly express their opinions than was previously recognized, with issue involvement emerging as a consistently significant predictor. The influence of local opinion appeared to be less compelling than the perceived national opinion. The results suggest that the situation in which an individual is supposed to express his or her opinion, the nature of the issue, demographic and psychographic characteristics of the individual, perceptions of majority opinion, and the salience of opinions of other groups, are also significant conditions which should be integrated into future models of opinion expression. Footnotes, references, and tables of data are included. (JG)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Spiral of Silence Theory
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (70th, San Antonio, TX, August 1-4, 1987).