Two-Step Flow of Communication

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  • A theory conceived by researchers studying voters during a 1940 election. The mass media of that time consisted of radio, newspapers, and cinema, all of which were assumed to have a great effect on people's opinions. Despite this, the researchers showed that personal influence was still an important factor in decision making. People's decisions were affected by conversations they had with friends, family members, and other contacts. Some people, labeled “opinion leaders” by the researchers, had greater influence on decision making within their social network. In addition, these opinion leaders were found to have greater exposure to media than other people and selectively passed on this media-derived information to their social network. Thus, the two-step model refers to media information flowing first to opinion leaders, ...

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