Opinion leaders, sometimes called opinion brokers, carry information across social boundaries between groups. In advertising, opinion leaders are known as consumer innovators or early adopters and may consciously or unconsciously influence others, helping diffuse a new product or service within the targeted market. This entry discusses research on opinion leaders and followers in communication and media studies in the 1940s and 1950s and how the theories that were developed then apply to the present day.

Early Research

The concept of opinion leaders and followers was formally introduced into communication and media studies by Elihu Katz and Paul Lazarsfeld, with the two-step flow model in the landmark 1955 book Personal Influence: The Part Played by People in the Flow of Mass Communication. The two-step flow model indicated that ...

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