The spiral of silence theory is a theory of public opinion formation. The theory postulates that an opinion camp that is—or seems to be—losing during a process of opinion change will lose more and more followers due to fear of social isolation. The less people are willing to speak up in public on behalf of this opinion camp, the smaller it seems to be, causing more and more people to fall silent or to change their opinion in favor of the (seemingly) winning opinion camp.

The spiral of silence theory is a part of a larger social psychological theory of public opinion. It has been developed since the 1960s by German pollster Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann. Noelle-Neumann’s work began when she discovered that sometimes during an election campaign ...

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