Newspapers have been read at breakfast for almost years. Our great-great-grandparents discussed the news of revolutions in Europe or of the Mexican war with their buddies at lunchtime. Television shows were and still are the subject of the proverbial water cooler chats.
Basic overview[ edit ] The theory is based on a s study on social influence that states that media effects are indirectly established through the personal influence of opinion leaders. The majority of people receive much of their information and are influenced by the media secondhand, through the personal influence of opinion leaders.
Concept[ edit ] The two-step model says that most people are not directly influenced by mass media, and instead form their opinions based on opinion leaders who interpret media messages and put them into context.
Opinion leaders are those initially exposed to a specific media content, and who interpret it based on their own opinion. They then begin to infiltrate these opinions through the general public who become "opinion followers".
Therefore, the leading influence in these opinions is primarily a social persuasion. It was first introduced by sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld et al.
For example, in the field of science communicationMatthew Nisbet describes the use of opinion leaders as intermediaries between scientists and the public as a way to reach the public via trained individuals who are more closely engaged with their communities, such as "teachers, business leaders, attorneys, policymakers, neighborhood leaders, students, and media professionals.
The people with most access to media, and having a more literate understanding of media content, explain and diffuse the content to others. Based on the two-step flow hypothesis, the term "personal influence" came to illustrate the process intervening between the media's direct message and the audience's reaction to that message.
Opinion leaders tend to be similar to those they influence—based on personality, interests, demographics, or socio-economic factors.
These leaders tend to influence others to change their attitudes and behaviors. The two-step theory refined the ability to predict how media messages influence audience behavior and explains why certain media campaigns do not alter audiences' attitudes.
This hypothesis provided a basis for the two-step flow theory of mass communication. The fact that massive databases are being used to send tailor-made messages to individuals lead back to the idea of a "one-step flow of communication".
Empirical studies by other scholars, in contrast, have found that modern social media platforms, like Twitterexhibit clear evidence of a two-step flow of communication see Figure. The fine-grained digital footprint of social media also suggests that there are more than simply the one-step and two-step modes of communication flow, leading the search for more complex Multistep Flow Models based on distinct network structures.
Paul Felix Lazarsfeld[ edit ] One of the first to embark on Communications research, was the first to introduce the difference between 'administrative research' and 'critical research' in regards to the media.
Critical research he believed, criticizes the media institutions themselves for the perspective ways they serve dominant social groups. Critical research favors interperspective and inductive methods of inquiry.
During the research revealed information about the psychological and social processes that influence voting decisions. The study also uncovered an influence process that Lazarsfeld called "opinion leadership.
He called this communication process the "two-step flow of communication". Their research aimed to observe the flow of influence at the intersections of mass and interpersonal communication and resulted in the book Personal Influence. Katz pursued Lazarfeld's research in a study of the flow of information, which is the basis of Personal Influence.
Katz and Lazarsfeld concluded that:Two-step flow theory is an amendment of these two different age theory. In its design of research, it believe that people are influenced by the mass media, people’s own will and the social environment people in together, but not a extreme one of them.
The Two Step Flow Theory suggests that opinion leaders pay close attention to the mass media and pass on their interpretation of media messages to others. Unlike the Hypodermic Needle Theory, The Two Step Flow Theory maintains that audiences are active participants in the communication process.
The two-step flow of communication hypothesis was first introduced by Paul Lazarsfeld, Bernard Berelson, and Hazel Gaudet in "The People's Choice", a study focused on the process of decision-making during a Presidential election campaign.
TWO-STEP FLOW THEORY The two-step flow theory is about how KEY people (opinion leaders).