Posted 16 августа 2022, 15:04

Published 16 августа 2022, 15:04

Modified 24 декабря 2022, 22:37

Updated 24 декабря 2022, 22:37

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Where does the "spiral of silence" lead: scientists have shown how public opinion is formed

16 августа 2022, 15:04
Фото: Соцсети
American sociologists experimentally proved that after the number of supporters of some opinion becomes more than 25%, their number begins to grow very quickly.

An interesting article on the mechanics of public opinion was published in the prestigious scientific journal Science . Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania (USA) as a result of a long experiment, in fact, confirmed the correctness of the famous theory "Spiral of Silence", proposed back in the middle of the twentieth century by the German political scientist Elisabeth Noel-Neumann . According to this theory, a person is less likely to express his opinion on a particular topic if he feels that he is in the minority, because he is afraid of punishment or isolation. However, over time, the picture may change radically.

Public opinion is ruled by fear

Scientists have experimentally shown that at first the share of supporters of some unpopular opinion grows very slowly, but if it reaches a critical level of 25%, the entire mass of people can change their mind very dramatically. While people are in the minority, they hoard their disagreement but do not express it for fear of being in the minority, but when they notice that there are enough supporters around them, they abruptly begin to publicly express their opinion, and others begin to do the same, and it all turns into a snowball and so the overall picture turns upside down dramatically. But this is largely the result of the fact that people's individual public opinion has already changed before. They were just afraid to express it.

Russian opposition up to 25% still work yes work

Sociologist Dmitry Zakotyansky in his blog commented on this publication in relation to the situation in Russia:

“Liberals - if you look at the different wording of questions from the Levada Center (recognized as a foreign agent in the Russian Federation) - we, by the way, have always had about 10-15% for the last 25 years. Those who vote for the liberals and for the conditionally "liberal" opposition parties, who are specifically and directly against the authorities, who are pro-Western, pro-market, etc. Up to 25%, we are still a little far away here. Against these ~15%, we (before the war) had a stable of about 60-65% of believers pro-government and about 20 undecided. Therefore, we really have a struggle of about 15% against 60%. In any case, the last 10-20 years for sure.

True, here it is necessary to introduce clarifications and additional criteria of “necessity / sufficiency”. But, all the same, it is significant that the group dynamics of public opinion has an S-shape. This gives hope that it may take us less time to change public moods than it seems ... "

Survey methodology in Russia is like reusing a tea bag

True, another question arises here: how conscientious are Russian sociologists, on the results of whose research we so love to rely in our assessment of what is happening in the country? Journalist Mikhail Zakharov is very skeptical about their work:

“I heard a lot of different things over the past months about the “sociology of the NWO period”, in terms of the authenticity of the polls - “support or not support”. Criticism of the methodology. Polster excuses. Political interpretations.

But I have personal experience in this place, a very specific property. I am a regular member of telephone calls.

1) The problem is that in principle it is impossible to interrogate me according to all methods, because no one has canceled the question "are you, your family members, friends or acquaintances workers in the following areas of activity". But about two years ago I stopped hearing it (once it was asked to me by marketers).

2) Over the past year (I could be wrong) I was interviewed on a complete questionnaire 15-20 times. On average, according to a blind sample, this is unlikely. Well, at least because among my acquaintances the number of people who took the survey during this period at least once is close to zero.

From this follows my preliminary (not pretending to anything) conclusion - the percentage of failures is such that the pollsters performed a simple operation - they left in the "blind and random" database only those who, in principle, are ready to spend ten minutes of their lives to communicate with the interviewer. Well, it’s true, why the hell to bathe - it’s easier to look for public opinion under a lantern, and not where you lost it. Strongly coarsening - we make a sample from the general population, then from it - a sample of those who are ready to communicate, and then we extrapolate a sample from the sample to the whole country.

Hence, all explanations about the "spiral of silence", "Russian khton" and other interpretations (elegant and not very) of the data can go to the trash, because, having brewed a tea bag three times, it is difficult to make an impression about the structure of the tea bush. Well, like those blind people who didn’t describe the elephant in such a way ... "