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The Spiral of Silence theory explains why people often feel the need
to conceal their opinions/preference/views/etc. when they fall within
the minority of a group.
1. people have a "quasi-statistical organ," a sixth-sense if you will,
which allows them to know the prevailing public opinion, even
without access to polls,
2. people have a fear of isolation and know what behaviors will
increase their likelihood of being socially isolated, and
3. people are reticent to express their minority views, primarily out
of fear of being isolated.
Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, the German political scientist
contributes the famous model called “Spiral of Silence”.
In 1947 Neumann and her husband found “Public Opinion
Organization” in German and also she was a President of “World
Association for Public Opinion Research” in 1978 to 1980.
Through this Spiral of Silence theory Neumann indirectly explains
the Jews status during World War II under Nazi’s control.
Here, Adolf Hitler dominated the whole society and the minority
Jews became silent due to the fear of isolation or separation.
Originally proposed by German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-
Neumann in 1974, Spiral of silence is the term meant to refer to
the tendence of people to remain silent when they feel that their
views are in opposition to the majority view on a subject. The
theory posits that they remain silent for a few reasons:
1. Fear of isolation when the group or public realizes that the
individual has a divergent opinion from the status quo.
2. Fear of reprisal or more extreme isolation, in the sense that
voicing said opinion might lead to a negative consequence beyond
that of mere isolation (loss of a job, status, etc.)
The one view dominated the public scene and others disappeared
from the public awareness as it adherents became silent.
In other words, the people fear of separation or isolation those
around them, they tend to keep their attitudes to themselves
when they think they are in the minority. This process is called
“Spiral of Silence”.
In this sense, the theory is extremely scientific. Spiral of Silence
believes that there is fate- opinions are dependent on the majority
opinion of the group.
The theory is also quite scientific in the relationship between the
research being done and the researcher. What is researched is not
dependent on the observer, there is one truth; an absolute if you will
concerning the Spiral of Silence. People are quiet with their opinions
and that is that.
I feel that Spiral of Silence is scientific in the values sense as
well. Research being done is value neutral and unbiased on the
researchers’ behalf since they would have no reason or means to skew
the findings in any way.
The Spiral of Silence theory is a scientific theory that for the most
part is quite sound in situations in which opinions are not of great
consequence. For example, if my opinion is a strong conviction and I
am unwilling to bend in my beliefs then the theory may not apply to
me to such an extent. Also, if I am an opinion leader, (from the
Diffusion of Innovations theory) that is I am the one voicing my
opinion and affecting other people; then I also may not bend in my
Ideas and Implications:
The Spiral of Silence is useful to apply in situations when trying to
explain why people cover up or change their opinions when in a group
setting especially when they think they are alone in their opinions.
In a company, the managing director decides to increase their working
hour from 8 to 10 and send e-mail to all employees. Majority of them
accept this time changes and few employees are not satisfied with his
decision. But they cannot or ready to express their thought publicly.
1. They may feel unsupported by the other employees.
2. “Fear of isolation” like transfer
3. “Fear of Rejection” By rejecting their personal opinion from the
public will help to avoid fight.
4. They may try to save their job by suppressing or avoid personal
statement in public.
They Frame Work Based On Few
1. Spiral of silence theory describe as a dynamic process, the
predication about public opinion in mass media which gives more
coverage for the majorities in the society and gives very less
coverage for minorities.
2. In this social environment, People have fear of rejection to
express their opinion or views and they known well what behaviors
will make a better likelihood. It’s called “fear of Isolation”.
3. Being the part of Minority. People loss their confidence and
silent or mute to express their views because of the fear of
isolation or they feel alone or unsupported.
4. Sometimes the minorities withdraw their expressed opinion
from public debates to secure themselves from the majority.
5. Maximum numbers get more vocal space in the society and
lesser number become less vocal space or become silent.
Advantages and Disadvantages
1. Spiral of Silence theory has both micro level and macro level
2. It works well during the public campaign, Senate and
3. Spiral of silence theory – which helps to raise question about
considering the role and responsibility of media in the society.
4. The theory which is not considering the other explanation of
silencing. In some cases the person may feel the majority’s ideas or
opinion is much better than his own view.
5. It portrait overly negative view of media influence the average