Opposing Opinions 2
INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH STUDY:
The research topic of college students and their reaction to an unfamiliar environment is a broad topicthat yields little scientific conclusion and we wanted to create a study in which we will be able to quantitativelytest the relationship between students and an opposing environment. We decided that the topic of politics wasemotionally laden enough to provide the type of atmosphere that would facilitate a recognizable reaction if saidreaction was applicable. The plausibility of a student being involved in a political conversation in which peersexpress opposing opinions is higher in an academic setting than most other places that facilitate discussion andwe considered this to be an understood factor in regards to our sampling measurements.
“It has been suggeste
d that if most people fear social isolation it is not isolation from some general
amorphous public but only from specific groups to which they are attracted and want to belong” (Lasor
sa, 1991, p. 131). The theory, Spiral of Silence,
also states “that one‟s perception of the distribution of public opinionmotivates one‟s willingness to express political opinions” (Taylor, 2001, p. 311). Depending on one‟s
surroundings, they may or may not express their beliefs or even their true beliefs. Fear of isolation is associatedwith one making neutral comments that do not state their opinion; acting as though one is clueless (playing
dumb), lie, and just plainly avoid the conversation (Neuwirth, Frederick, & Mayo, 2007). “Decisions to speak
ut can also be influenced by such factors as a person‟s knowledge about the topic, interest in political mattersor public affairs, importance or salience of the topic to the person, confidence in the „„correctness‟‟ of one‟sopinion, the extremity of one‟
s opinion, communication apprehension and shyness, and the extent to which
one‟s opinion is based on moral principle” (Hayes, 2007, p. 786).
College students who have opposing political opinions/beliefs to the majority of peers may be facedtheoretically with circumstances that cause them to alter their normal communication behavior. This concept isknown as the fear of isolation and is one of the key concepts within the Spiral of Silence theory. This theorywas developed by Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann after observing German election opinion polls and the unforeseenoutcome that transpired from the political race. Miller (2002) states that: Theorists associated with Spiral of Silence Theory argue that due to their enormous power, the mass media have a lasting effect on public opinion.