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The spiral of silence theory, which was developed by German survey and communication researcher Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann in the 1960s and 1970s, is one of the most frequently cited and debated theories in the field of communication studies. Formulated against a backdrop of surprising election outcomes and group-dynamic processes during the era of student protests in Germany in the 1960s and 1970s, the theory attempts to describe collective opinion formation and societal decision making in situations where the issue being debated or decided upon is controversial and morally loaded.

In the literature in the field, the theory of the spiral of silence is often reduced to a single premise; that is, that people who feel their opinion is held by the minority tend to fall silent in ...

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