Spiral of Silence

Topics: Media studies, Mass media, Communication Pages: 5 (1968 words) Published: November 29, 2010
Biography about Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann

---------Spiral of silence

Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann (19 December 1916 – 25 March 2010) was a German political scientist. Her most famous contribution is the model of the spiral of silence, detailed in The Spiral of Silence : Public Opinion – Our Social Skin. The model is an explanation of how perceived public opinion can influence individual opinions or actions. This study is about her background and some details about the spiral of silence, and it also describe the application of this theory. Body:

Elisabeth Noelle was born to Ernst and Eve Noelle in 1916. First Elisabeth went to several schools in Berlin and then switched to the prestigious Salem Castle School, which she also left one year later. She earned her Abitur in 1935 in Gottingen and then studied philosophy, history, journalism, and American studies at the Friedrich Wilhelm University, and the Konigsberg Albertina University. When she visited Obersalzberg, she by chance had an encounter with Adolf Hitler, which she later called "one of the most intensive and strangest experiences in her life". She stayed in the USA from 1937 to 1938 and studied at the University of Missouri. In 1940 she received her Phd concentrating on public opinion research in the USA. In 1940 she briefly worked for the Nazi newspaper Das Reich. She was fired when she exchanged unfavorable photos of Franklin D. Roosevelt for better looking ones. She then worked for the Frankfurter Zeitung until it was banned in 1943. In 1947 she and her first husband Erich Peter Neumann founded a public opinion research organization—the Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach, which today is one of the best known and most prestigious polling organizations in Germany. From 1964 to 1983 she held a protectorate at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. Noelle-Neumann was the president of the World Association for Public Opinion Research from 1978 to 1980 and worked as a guest professor at the University of Chicago from 1978 to 1991. For her marriage, she was married to the Christian Democratic politician Erich Peter Neumann (1912–1973) from 1946 until his death. She was married to the physicist Heinz Maier-Leibnitz (1911–2000) from 1979 until his death. She said in spite of her scientific point of view she believed in angels and predestination in an interview of the German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel. The spiral of silence is the most famous theory by her on political science and mass communication field. The theory asserts that a person is less likely to voice an opinion on a topic if one feels that one is in the minority for fear of reprisal or isolation from the majority. In another words, it says that when you feel like you are the small part of a group on a topic, you might be quiet and silence to show your voice; when you feel like you are the majority part of a group on a topic, you might be glad to show your opinion. Also it says that the public or medium are more focus on those majority part and ignore the minority part. So the minority voice getting smaller and smaller, the majority voice getting bigger and bigger, it growing form a spiral pattern. What we can see from her words is interesting ,because her definition on public opinion is very unique. She thought the pressure of public opinion as a herd. Thus, although public opinion in her is defined as a controversial , people still can be expressed in public opinion and will not be isolated. Her theory in Japan, the United States, the Netherlands, South Korea, the Philippines, Mexico, have been tested, the results are not fully consistent with its theoretical assumptions. A very important reason is that people in different parts have very different degree of herd psychology. Then let us talk about what is the spiral of silence theory. Because we only can directly observe the public in a small part of the group (often through...
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