The two-step flow model of audience effects was derived by Katz and Lazarsfeld (1965) which views the audience as active and influenced by influential opinion leaders, rather than directly by media content.
Katz and Lazarfeld argued that social networks were dominated by opinion leaders, who were influential people within social networks with the power to influence how others around them saw the world.
Opinion Leaders are exposed to media content, and they then share their interpretation of that content with the wider audience. Thus media content goes through two stages, with the wider audience being primarily influenced by the views of the active opinion leaders rather than being influenced directly by media content.
- + The two step flow model recognises that most people watch media as part of a social network.
- + This model might be especially useful for understanding the role of parents as opinion leaders.
- – Of course there is a sense in which the media has a ‘direct effect’ – on the opinion leaders, so there may still be some validity in the hypodermic syringe model.
- – This model may not apply to people who are socially isolated – and these could be the people who are most likely to be influenced by media content.
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