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Spiral of Silence Theory

Spiral of Silence Theory

This is our first step toward the completion of the Informative Essay.
In this early stage, the most important thing is to get a good understanding of your end goal. So, please take a few minutes, and go to week 5 and review the full details of the Informative Essay Final assignment .
To summarize the full description, you will be choosing one of three options to write a paper about: 1. Uses and gratification theory, 2. Spiral of Silence Theory, or 3. Relational Dialectics theory. You will choose whatever theory you find most interesting and then base your paper on a real world example/application of the chosen theory.
Example: You could choose Uses and gratification theory and write a paper about why/what benefits peopel get from using snapchat or isntagram or spotify or any other media of your choice.
Example 2: You could choose Spiral of Silence theory and write your paper about how a group you are interested in is being silenced.
Example 3: You could choose Relational Dialectic theory and write your paper as an analysis of the relationship between the characters of your favorite TV show, movie, or book.
This week, would really like you focus on gaining a good understanding of your chosen topic. Once you feel comfortable whit your topic,
fill in the starting point document attached to this assignment.

Spiral of silence, in the research into human being conversation and open public view, the theory that people’s motivation to show their viewpoints on dubious general public problems is afflicted with their largely unconscious thought of those opinions for being either well-liked or unpopular. Specifically, the perception that one’s opinion is unpopular tends to inhibit or discourage one’s expression of it, while the perception that it is popular tends to have the opposite effect. Developed by German survey and communication researcher Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann in the 1960s and ’70s, the spiral of silence theory more broadly attempts to describe collective opinion formation and societal decision making regarding issues that are controversial or morally loaded.

Within the perspective of your idea, the term general public viewpoint refers to views or habits that could be shown or expressed in public without operating the potential risk of social isolation or, sometimes, that even has to be shown to prevent the danger of isolation. Thus, public is not meant in a legal or political sense—as something that is freely accessible to all or that concerns the general population or society as a whole. Instead, the concept is interpreted from a social-psychological perspective as a state of consciousness in which individuals are aware that their actions are “seen by all” or “heard by all,” requiring that they constantly monitor not only their own actions but also the reactions of others in their environment. Accordingly, Noelle-Neumann viewed public opinion as a form of social control that ultimately applies to everyone, regardless of social class, and that is apparent in many areas of life, ranging from controversial political issues to fashion, morals, and values. Such an understanding of public opinion differs markedly from the traditional conception, according to which most people’s opinions on public issues are influenced by rational debate among educated elites.

The thought of the spiral of silence arose from your shocking finding in relationship with election research conducted through the 1965 German government political election promotion. Months before election day in September 1965, Noelle-Neumann and her staff at the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research launched a series of surveys designed to track the political opinions of the electorate throughout the campaign. From December 1964 to shortly before election day, survey findings on voters’ intentions remained practically unchanged. Month after month, the two major parties, the governing Christian Democratic Union–Christian Social Union (CDU-CSU) and the opposing Social Democratic Party of Germany (SDP), were in a dead heat, with about 45 percent of the population intending to vote for each party. Under such circumstances, it seemed impossible to predict which party was most likely to win the election.

Within the last couple weeks of the marketing campaign, nevertheless, the specific situation suddenly modified, with study findings displaying a very last-moment golf swing in favour of the CDU-CSU. The percentage of respondents who said that they intended to vote for the CDU-CSU suddenly climbed to almost 50 percent, while the share that intended to vote for the SDP dropped to less than 40 percent. In the end, the result of the election confirmed those findings: the CDU-CSU won with 48 percent of the vote, as against 39 percent for the SDP.

Interestingly, although voters’ intentions stayed unaffected throughout a lot of several weeks, their expectations regarding the upshot of the selection shifted dramatically throughout the same period of time. In December 1964, the percentage of respondents who expected the SDP to win was about the same as the share who anticipated a CDU-CSU victory. But then the results began to change: the percentage of respondents who expected a CDU-CSU victory rose continuously, while the SDP lost ground. By as early as July 1965, the CDU-CSU was clearly in the lead regarding voters’ expectations, and by August, almost 50 percent expected that it would win. Late in the campaign the bandwagon effect came into play, as a sizeable number of former SDP supporters or undecided voters cast their ballots for the party they expected to be victorious.

How could get together strength have continued to be continual for so long while requirements concerning who will succeed modified so dramatically? Noelle-Neumann suspected that a visit by Queen Elizabeth II to Germany in May 1965, during which she was often accompanied by the Christian Democratic German chancellor, Ludwig Erhard, may have created an optimistic mood among supporters of the CDU, prompting them to publicly proclaim their political convictions. As a result, supporters of the SDP may have (wrongly) concluded that their opponents’ opinions were more popular than their own and that therefore the CDU would win. SDP supporters were accordingly discouraged from publicly articulating their own views, reinforcing the impression that the CDU was more popular and more likely to be victorious.

According to the spiral of silence theory, most people have a natural—and mostly unconscious—fear of social isolation that prompts them to constantly monitor the behaviour of others for signs of approval or disapproval. People also issue their own “threats” of isolation—mostly unconsciously—through behaviour such as criticizing someone, turning away from someone, scowling at someone, laughing at someone, and so on. To avoid isolation, people tend to refrain from publicly stating their views on controversial matters when they perceive that doing so would attract criticism, scorn, laughter, or other signs of disapproval. Conversely, those who sense that their opinions will meet with approval tend to voice them fearlessly and at times vociferously. Indeed, speaking out in such a way tends to enhance the threat of isolation faced by supporters of the opposing position, reinforcing their sense of being alone. Thus a spiraling process begins, the dominant camp becoming ever louder and more self-confident while the other camp becomes increasingly silent.

Importantly, the spiral of silence occurs only in connection with controversial issues that have a strong moral component. What triggers a person’s fear of isolation is the belief that others will consider him or her not merely mistaken but morally bad. Accordingly, issues that lack a moral component or on which there is general consensus leave no room for a spiral of silence.

As demonstrated by the 1965 German federal election and other examples, the actual popularity of an opinion does not necessarily determine whether it will eventually predominate over opposing views. An opinion can be dominant in public discourse even if a majority of the population actually disagrees with it, provided that most people (falsely) believe that the view is unpopular and refrain from expressing it for fear of being isolated.

Public opinion is limited by time and place. With few exceptions, a spiral of silence holds sway over only a single society (a nation or cultural group) and for only a limited period. When viewed in hindsight or from an outsider’s perspective, it is sometimes hard to comprehend the agitation and emotional fervour that can accompany a spiral of silence.

The idea of perspective originates from initiatives to take into account observed regularities in the carry out of particular person individuals. For example, one tends to group others into common classes (i.e., all of the people in this room are wearing basketball uniforms). One also classifies objects such as paintings or events such as battles.

The standard of one’s behaviour is judged from the observable, evaluative responses that happen to be manufactured. While one might consult one’s inner experiences as evidence of one’s own attitudes, only public behaviour can receive objective study. For this reason investigators rely heavily on behavioral indexes of attitudes—e.g., on what people say, on how they respond to questionnaires, or on such physiological signs as changes in heart rate.