Multistep Flow of Information

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  • During the early decades of the 20th century, the transfer of information from mass media to an audience was seen as similar to injection with a hypodermic syringe. This changed when researchers analyzing opinion formation among voters during the 1940 presidential election unexpectedly observed that personal contacts appeared to have been more effective in opinion formation than the mass media. They developed the concept of a two-step flow of information, where opinion leaders filtered and passed on information from mass media to their social contacts. With time and further research, this model was seen to be overly simplistic. Opinion leaders were not omnipotent but were each respected for specific areas of expertise. Young women, for example, influenced opinion on fashion and moviegoing.

    The simple two-step information ...

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