Individual Submission Summary

Direct link:

Influences of Opinion Contexts on Opinion Expression

Fri, September 1, 1:00 to 1:30pm, Hilton Union Square, Grand Ballroom


Noelle-Neumann’s Spiral of Silence theory suggests that individuals tend to refrain from expressing opinion when they perceive that their opinions are different from the majority opinions portrayed in the opinion climate which is constructed mainly from mainstream mass media. Broadly speaking, this theory undeniably provides an influential theoretical insight to look into how one’s willingness to take political actions is related to his/her perceived opinion context. Based upon the theoretical concerns addressed in Noelle-Newmann’s model, this paper employs the political psychology perspective to examine the correlation between willingness to political action and another two dimensions of opinion context— (i) perceived hostility of opinion environment and (ii) perceived future opinion trend. Based on both dimensions, it is argued that individuals are more willing to express their opinions if they perceive their own opinions are more welcomed by others in the opinion context (such as discussion forum) and if they perceive their opinions can contribute to changes of the discussed issues in future. Furthermore, this paper will investigate how the above relationship is moderated by one’s personal standpoint on the issue. That means, the degree of willingness to express opinions due to the perceive opinion context varies with the level of agreement of individuals on the discussed issues—one is more willing to express in case he/she disagrees with the issues. Findings, which come from a representative survey with nearly 1,000 valid cases, depict that individuals are more willing to express if (1) they are facing a more hostile opinion environment, and (2) they found their opinion can direct the discussion in future. Moreover, personal standpoint on the discussed issue as a moderator is significantly useful to explain the above correlations. Implications of level of media consumption as well as the differences of online and offine opinion expressions under the above model will be thoroughly discussed.