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Do self-perceived opinion leaders actually lead opinions? Evidence from an observational study on political conversations


Geber, Sarah (2019). Do self-perceived opinion leaders actually lead opinions? Evidence from an observational study on political conversations. Communication Research Reports, 36(3):209-219.

Abstract

Opinion leadership is one of the most prominent concepts in communication sciences. A popular method for studying opinion leadership is the use of self-designating scales. The present study examines whether opinion leaders who are identified by self-designating scales literally lead opinions, that is, actually influence others. For this purpose, 78 dyads of friends were interviewed, and their political conversations were observed. The results reveal that self-perceived opinion leadership is associated with aspects of the influence process (i.e., goal to influence, influential communication, and opinion effects) and with other-perceptions of opinion leadership in political conversations. However, given the small effects and the significant role of the interaction partner with regard to the influence process, it is concluded that the extent to which self-designating scales are able to represent the complexity of social reality is limited.

Abstract

Opinion leadership is one of the most prominent concepts in communication sciences. A popular method for studying opinion leadership is the use of self-designating scales. The present study examines whether opinion leaders who are identified by self-designating scales literally lead opinions, that is, actually influence others. For this purpose, 78 dyads of friends were interviewed, and their political conversations were observed. The results reveal that self-perceived opinion leadership is associated with aspects of the influence process (i.e., goal to influence, influential communication, and opinion effects) and with other-perceptions of opinion leadership in political conversations. However, given the small effects and the significant role of the interaction partner with regard to the influence process, it is concluded that the extent to which self-designating scales are able to represent the complexity of social reality is limited.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Communication
Language:English
Date:10 April 2019
Deposited On:04 Nov 2019 13:05
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 11:31
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0882-4096
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/08824096.2019.1598856

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