Spiral of silence


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Spiral of silence

  1. 1. Spiral of Silence Chapter 29 <br />Author: Elisabeth Noelle- Neumann<br />Presenters: Abby, Krista, and Chase <br />
  2. 2. What is Spiral of Silence Theory?<br />It explains the growth and spread of public opinion<br />Public opinion- a tangible force that keeps people in line. Attitudes that someone can express without being isolated<br />Spiral of Silence- increasing pressure people feel to conceal their views when they think they are in the minority<br />
  3. 3. Quasi-Statistical Organ<br />The author is amazed at human ability to separate the climate of public opinion.<br /> People sense their environment with:<br />Eye (sight)<br />Ear (sound)<br />Tongue (taste)<br />Nose (smell)<br />Skin (touch)<br />
  4. 4. Quasi- Statistical Organ continued…<br />The veteran suggests a six sense called “Quasi- statistical organ”<br />Quasi- Statistical Organ= a sixth sense that tallies up information about what society in general is thinking and feeling.<br />Nuemann recommends two questions to get at the barometric reading inside peoples heads: <br /> 1) present climate- regardless of your personal opinion, do you think most people…?<br />2) future forecast- will more or fewer people think this way a year from now? <br />
  5. 5. Example of Quasi-Statistical Organ<br />Near the end of every year German men and women are asked “Do you look forward to the upcoming year with hopes of with fears?”<br />Researchers FOUND that.. The level of optimism expressed shows no relationship to economic growth in the year the question is asked<br />BUT it gives a forecast for the following year<br />
  6. 6. Fear of Isolation <br />People will ignore the plain evidence of their senses and yield to perceived group pressure.<br />People that are put in a stressful situation would conform to the groups judgment most or all of the time.<br />People are afraid of being Isolated! <br />“Will these adults frown, argue, or curse my stubbornness?”<br />“Worse yet, will they snicker or laugh at me?”<br />“If I say what I really think, will they turn away in contempt or kick me out of the group?” <br />
  7. 7. Study about “Fear of Isolation” by Stanley Milgram<br />Norwegians conformed more than the French<br />BUT the majority of people from both countries were unable to stand firm in their beliefs in the face of group pressure. <br />Both people gave into peer pressure and the groups decision. The majority of people from both counties conformed to the group.<br />Neumann states that “only the criminal or moral hero doesn’t care what society thinks” (Neumann, p. 374)<br />
  8. 8. Powerful Role of the Mass Media<br />Pluralistic ignorance- people’s mistake idea that everyone thinks like they do. <br />Neumann believes that the media accelerate the muting of the minority in the spiral of silence.<br />The author admits the power to change attitudes may be limited by selective exposure.<br />Newman concludes that mass media CAN make a MAJORITY look like a MINORITY. <br />Example of this: the television sends out a public opinion, television also creates it. <br />
  9. 9. Time to Speak, and Time to Keep Silent<br />Noelle-Neumann predicts that individuals will become more confident and willing to voice their opinions when they recognize that their personal opinion is spreading and taking over others’ opinions. On the opposite, will lose confidence and willingness to voice opinions when their opinions are losing the public’s favor.<br />Abandoning opinions is not likely a result, but a loss of willingness to voice the opinion is likely.<br />Train/plane test: questions about conversation with a stranger while traveling (on a train or plane) that help determine one’s level of willingness to speak out and support an opinion or viewpoint.<br />
  10. 10. 6 Factors of the Train/Plane Test:<br />Those who favor the majority position-more willing to express their opinion.<br />Willingness to speak out depends on a future forecast of climate.<br />Willingness to speak out is more common when the audience shares the same opinion.<br />Low self-esteem will likely cause the individual to remain unwilling to voice an opinion.<br />Males, young adults, and middle and upper class individuals find it easier to speak out. The opposite, women, minorities and older individuals are more reserved with their opinion.<br />Existing laws encourage individuals to voice opinions even when they feel as though they are in the minority.<br />
  11. 11. The Accelerating Spiral of Silence<br />Model of public opinion:<br />Human ability to gauge trends of public sentiment<br />Individual’s justifiable fear of isolation<br />People’s hesitancy to express minority views<br />With these factors in mind, people perceive opinions and with fear of isolation become silent to the public in order to not be in the minority.<br />The Spiral of Silence: If Public Opinion is at the very right end of a spectrum, the closer to the left side one gets, the less likely they are to voice their opinion:<br />
  12. 12. The Downward Spiral of Silence pg. 378 <br />Silence is where the fear of isolation is too great to avoid. <br />Prevailing Public Opinion<br />Willingness to Speak out<br />Perceived discrepancy<br />Person with minority viewpoint <br />Silence<br />Fear of Isolation <br />
  13. 13. The Hard-Core and Avant-Garde: Holdouts Who Can Change the World<br />Those who can never be silenced and who do not let their fears tear them down the spiral of silence.<br />Hard-core nonconformists: Those who have nothing to lose by their beliefs and opinions being rejected. Having been already rejected and overpowered, the hard-core will most likely regard isolation as a fact of life and the price necessary in order to accomplish their goals.<br />Avant-garde: Intellectuals, artists, and reformers who think that they are ahead of their time and thus their ideas will be right and accept present isolation as the price of future correctness.<br />Avant-garde are most likely to seek public response over the hard-core.<br />The only hope for changing the public sentiment is for the minorities hard-core and avant-garde to remain.<br />
  14. 14. Critique:<br />MihalyCsikszentmihal, sociologist of University of Chicago, proposes that three of Noelle-Neumann’s assumptions are overly simplistic and wrong:<br />Assuming the fear of isolation is the cause of people’s isolation<br />Noelle-Neumann’s research seldom asks the individuals of why they did not give their opinion, thus making fear of isolation an unreliable assumption.<br />Relying on the hypothetical train/plane test to measure willingness to speak out<br />The artificial situation does not give a true enough reflection of the actual willingness participants may have. It is suggested by Carroll Glynn, professor of communication at Cornell University, that observations of actual situations should be performed instead of hypothetical willingnesses.<br />Focusing on national climate rather than reference group opinion<br />Noelle-Neumann suggests that public opinion is what we perceive to be the judgment of strangers in an anonymous public. Critics propose that the relationships of the individual are more influential than the opinion of the nation.<br />Cornell University communication professor DietramScheufele performed a study addressing these three topics. Perception of public opinion proved to be a much better predictor of willingness to speak out than had been seen in the study done by his colleague, Carroll Glynn.<br />
  15. 15. Critique continued…<br />