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The spiral of silence and the internet: Selection of online content and the perception of the public opinion climate in computer-mediated communication environments


Schulz, Anne; Rössler, Patrick (2012). The spiral of silence and the internet: Selection of online content and the perception of the public opinion climate in computer-mediated communication environments. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 24(3):346-367.

Abstract

The question of whether the conventional approaches of media effects research still prove valid in online environments has increasingly stimulated the interest of scholars. This article adds to this discussion, exploring whether Noelle-Neumann’s Theory of Public Opinion can explain public opinion formation when applied to computer-mediated communication environments. By focusing primarily on the perception of the climate of opinion, our theoretical considerations indicate that individuals most likely tend to select information online following a subjective–pluralistic pattern. Due to projection effects, this might lead to the perception of a consonant climate of opinion in one’s Internet environment, which in turn reduces the individual’s fear of isolation. However, there is no evidence yet that this affects the willingness to speak out in offline environments.

Abstract

The question of whether the conventional approaches of media effects research still prove valid in online environments has increasingly stimulated the interest of scholars. This article adds to this discussion, exploring whether Noelle-Neumann’s Theory of Public Opinion can explain public opinion formation when applied to computer-mediated communication environments. By focusing primarily on the perception of the climate of opinion, our theoretical considerations indicate that individuals most likely tend to select information online following a subjective–pluralistic pattern. Due to projection effects, this might lead to the perception of a consonant climate of opinion in one’s Internet environment, which in turn reduces the individual’s fear of isolation. However, there is no evidence yet that this affects the willingness to speak out in offline environments.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
Language:English
Date:24 July 2012
Deposited On:11 Apr 2014 07:17
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:49
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0954-2892
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/ijpor/eds022

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