Does perceived incongruence in opinion climate influence the degree of outspokenness? Evidence from two national events in China

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-271
Journal / PublicationChinese Journal of Communication
Issue number3
Online published3 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


This study extends the spiral silence theory and investigates the influence of perceived incongruence in opinion climate on individuals' intentions to express their true thoughts. Three intervening variables were examined to explain the process by which perceived incongruence in opinion climate leads to self-censorship: ambivalence, perceived opinion support, and internet political efficacy. Using data collected in telephone interviews with a random sample of 1020 Chinese residents in Shanghai and Guangzhou, we found that individual perceptions of the opinion climate varied considerably, and they were based on different media outlets. The Chinese audience is able to tell the difference between traditional media and the internet in terms of the features of their content. Moreover, among the Guangzhou residents, we found that the perceived incongruence in opinion climate was negatively related to the individual's willingness to express his or her true thoughts. Perceived opinion support was found the most robust intervening variable among the three proposed mediators.

Research Area(s)

  • China, outspokenness, perceived opinion climate, spiral of silence