This study analyzes the impact of perceptions of the opinions of others on political outspokenness in Hong Kong. Two related theories, the third-person effect and the spiral of silence, are tested in the context of public opinion regarding the Sino-British dispute over Hong Kong's political future. To estimate the potential influence of perceived public opinion on political outspokenness during this political crisis, a representative telephone survey of 660 respondents in Hong Kong was conducted in November 1993. As hypothesized by the third-person effect, perceptions of the influence of media reports about the Sino-British dispute on others were found to be consistently greater than perceptions of influence on self. Similar to previous findings, respondents with a higher level of education were more likely to believe that the mass media influence others more than themselves. The study also found empirical support for the spiral of silence hypothesis. Politically unconcerned respondents were less willing to voice their political opinions publicly when they perceived the majority opinion not to be on their side. Findings also indicate that the third-person effect indirectly influences the spiral of silence process through its impact on perceptions of public opinion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science