Communication Two-Step Flow
by
Gabriel Weimann
  • LAST REVIEWED: 03 February 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 11 January 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0131

Introduction

The concept of the “two-step flow of communication” emerged from The People’s Choice, the American voting study conducted by Paul Lazarsfeld and his colleagues at the Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia University (Lazarsfeld, et al. 1948, cited under Emergence of the Two-Step Concept). These researchers observed that “ideas often flow from radio and print to opinion leaders and from them to the less active sections of the population” (p. 151). Thus, they suggested the flow of information and influence from the mass media to their audiences was taking place in two steps: from the media to the opinion leaders, and from opinion leaders to the public. This model certainly called into question most of the assumptions of the “powerful media” notion by revealing the limits of media influence while highlighting the role played by personal influence and especially by certain individuals—the opinion leaders. These ideas caught the attention and imagination of a new generation of researchers who opened a new theoretical and empirical vista. The bibliography of the two-step flow model and the opinion leadership conceptualization extends from the early discoveries—the “golden age,” when hundreds of studies in various areas provided empirical evidence—to modern criticism and modifications related to the new media environment.

General Overviews

Several reviews of the emerging and growing body of research on the two-step model were published. The earliest attempts, by Troldahl and Van Dam 1965 and Van den Ban 1964, appeared in the 1960s. Later, Hamilton 1971 tried to broaden the concept of opinion leadership, whereas Katz 1987 attempted to reply to critics of the two-step studies. Lowery and DeFleur 1995 summarizes the studies on the two-step model as part of their review, whereas Weimann 1994 and Keller and Berry 2003 focused their reviews on the opinion leaders themselves (or the “influential”). Finally, Southwell 2014 presents an overview of the two-step flow (and its linkage to diffusion), major findings to date, and future directions for research.

  • Hamilton, Herbert. 1971. Dimensions of self-designated opinion leadership and their correlates. Public Opinion Quarterly 35:266–274.‏

    DOI: 10.1086/267899Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author attempts to broaden the concept of opinion leaders in order to learn about many dimensions or aspects of this phenomenon as it applies to a single population at a particular point in time.

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    • Katz, Elihu. 1987. Communications research since Lazarsfeld. Public Opinion Quarterly 51:S25–S45.

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      This is Katz’s attempt to reply to critics of the Columbia School studies. He analyzes three challenges to the paradigm of limited effects—namely, the institutional, critical, and technological criticisms—and highlights their misinterpretations of the limited effects concept.

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      • Keller, Edward, and Jonathan Berry. 2003. The influentials. New York: Free Press.

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        The authors claim that “One American in ten tells the other nine how to vote, where to eat, and what to buy” (p. 148). These are the influentials, and this book attempts to provide an empirical portrait of these individuals, as well as a series of rules and guidelines for marketing to them.

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        • Lowery, Shearon, and Melvin DeFleur. 1995. Personal influence: The two-step flow of communication. In Milestone in mass communication research. 3d ed. By Shearon Lowery and Melvin DeFleur, 189–212. White Plains, NY: Longman.

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          This chapter on the two-step model provides an excellent review of the emergence of the theory, empirical methods, and findings from studies.

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          • Southwell, Brian. 2014. Two-step flow, diffusion, and the role of social networks in political communication. In The Oxford handbook of political communication. Edited by K. Kenski and K. Hall Jamieson. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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            This chapter provides a broad overview of the two-step flow (and its linkage to diffusion), major findings to date, and future directions for research. The author suggests that the general theoretical orientation suggested by that tradition continues to be relevant to political communication in the 21st century. Available online by subscription or purchase.

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            • Troldahl, Verling, and Robert Van Dam. 1965. Face-to-face communication about major topics in the news. Public Opinion Quarterly 29.4: 626–634.

              DOI: 10.1086/267365Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              This study was undertaken to obtain further evidence concerning conversations that people have on public affairs topics. The sample was also used to identify opinion leaders. The findings suggest that there appears to be more opinion sharing than opinion giving in this subject area, thus less evidence for the two-step flow.

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              • Van den Ban, Anne. 1964. A revision of the two-step flow of communications hypothesis. International Communication Gazette 10:237–249.

                DOI: 10.1177/001654926401000303Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                This Dutch study suggests that turning to opinion leaders depends on people’s need for new information. If they are badly in need of information, they will turn to well-informed persons who often belong to a higher social status.

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                • Weimann, Gabriel. 1994. The influentials: People who influence people. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press.

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                  This book offers a multidisciplinary presentation of the definitions, typologies, methods, and findings of opinion leadership research, from its early formulation, through the emergence of the first empirical evidence, to the most recent research.

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                  The Emergence of the Two-Step Concept

                  The two-step flow model was first introduced in Lazarsfeld, et al. 1948. The authors expected to find empirical support for the direct influence of media messages on voting intentions. They were surprised to discover, however, that informal, personal contacts were mentioned far more frequently than exposure to radio or newspaper as sources of influence on voting behavior. Armed with these data, Katz and Lazarsfeld 1955 developed the two-step flow theory of mass communication, followed by a study on the diffusion of a new drug (Coleman, et al. 1959). Katz 1957 and Katz 1960 provide some updates of the initial concept, whereas King and Summers 1970 applies it to the study of opinion leaders in various consumer product categories.

                  • Coleman, James, Herbert Menzel, and Elihu Katz. 1959. Social processes in physicians’ adoption of a new drug. Journal of Chronic Diseases 9:1–19.

                    DOI: 10.1016/0021-9681(59)90134-1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    The spread of a new drug spread through communities of physicians was studied. The main findings highlight the role of personal influence among physicians as well as the importance of certain influential doctors who were the opinion leaders for others.

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                    • Katz, Elihu. 1957. The two-step flow of communication: An up-to-date report on an hypothesis. Public Opinion Quarterly 21:61–78.

                      DOI: 10.1086/266687Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      The two-step hypothesis has been tested in several successive studies. This paper examines these studies and suggests that each study has attempted a different solution to the problem of how to account for interpersonal relations in the traditional design of survey research.

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                      • Katz, Elihu. 1960. Communication research and the image of society: Convergence of two traditions. American Journal of Sociology 65:435–440.‏

                        DOI: 10.1086/222746Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        As this article demonstrates, the attempt to take systematic account of interpersonal relations as relevant to the flow of mass communications has directed attention to the role of opinion leaders and two-step flow.

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                        • Katz, Elihu, and Paul Lazarsfeld. 1955. Personal influence. New York: Free Press.

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                          This classical introduction of the two-step flow model reports the results of a pioneering study conducted in Decatur, IL, validating Paul Lazarsfeld’s serendipitous discovery that messages from the media may be further mediated by informal “opinion leaders” who intercept, interpret, and diffuse what they see and hear to their followers.

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                          • King, Charles, and John Summers. 1970. Overlap of opinion leadership across consumer product categories. Journal of Marketing Research 7:43–50.‏

                            DOI: 10.2307/3149505Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                            This study measured overlap of opinion leaders in various consumer product categories and revealed that such overlap is more likely to occur across close or similar categories.

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                            • Lazarsfeld, Paul F., Bernard Berelson, and Hazel Gaudet. 1948. The people’s choice: How the voter makes up his mind in a presidential campaign. 2d ed. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                              The first notion of the two-step flow was one of the findings of this early study. The researchers also suggested the existence of individuals who are more influential in this flow, mediating between the media and the public. Originally published in 1944.

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                              Criticism of the Model

                              The theoretical and practical appeal of the two-step flow model crossed the boundaries among disciplines, societies, and cultures. The model attracted researchers from medicine to politics, marketing to family planning, AIDS prevention to clothing fashion, and agriculture to birth control. However, the concept has been a subject of growing criticism. The weaknesses and shortcomings of the original conceptualization of opinion leadership, and especially that of the two-step flow model, were exposed by several studies that combined theoretical, ideological, and methodological aspects. The earliest critical essays are Harik 1971 and Gitlin 1978. Gitlin 1978 attempts to reveal a hidden agenda behind the “not so powerful media” assumption, whereas Schudson 2006 notes the questionable equivalence of citizen and consumer, a criticism presented also in Glickman 2006. Bennett and Manheim 2006 suggests the existence of direct, one-step flow, whereas Weimann 1991 presents some needed modifications of the conceptualization and measurement of opinion leadership.

                              • Bennett, Lance, and Jarol Manheim. 2006. The one-step flow of communication. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 608.1: 213–232.‏

                                DOI: 10.1177/0002716206292266Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                This analysis suggests shifting our focus from a two-step flow of messages passing from mass media through a social mediation process to a one-step flow involving the refined targeting of messages directly to individuals. This model of one-step flow is argued here to reflect both a transformation in communication technologies and social changes.

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                                • Gitlin, Todd. 1978. Media sociology: The dominant paradigm. Theory and Society 6:205–253.

                                  DOI: 10.1007/BF01681751Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                  The ideological–theoretical bias of the two-step model, according to Gitlin’s criticism, is manifested in a set of assumptions including the commensurability of modes of influence and the perception of “change” as the sole dependent variable.

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                                  • Glickman, Lawrence. 2006. The consumer and citizen in Personal Influence. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 608:205–212.

                                    DOI: 10.1177/0002716206292366Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                    This article questions the relationship between citizenship and consumption as presented in the classic book Personal Influence (Katz and Lazarsfeld 1955, cited under Emergence of the Two-Step Concept). It criticizes Katz and Lazarsfeld’s assumptions regarding the relationship between these spheres, focusing mainly on the assumed equivalence between consumers and citizens. Moreover, Glickman argues that they paid surprisingly little attention to the social impact of consumption and thus highlights the model’s “blind spots.”

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                                    • Harik, Iliya. 1971. Opinion leaders in the mass media in rural Egypt: A reconsideration of the two-step flow of communication hypothesis. American Political Science Review 65:731–740.

                                      DOI: 10.2307/1955517Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                      This study examines the two-step flow hypothesis in field survey data collected in a rural area in Egypt. The findings do not support the notion of opinion leaders and two-step flow. Messages from the mass media were found to flow directly to a majority of the villagers. This contradicts the argument of the two-step model that the significant flow is mediated by personal influence.

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                                      • Schudson, Michael. 2006. The troubling equivalence of citizen and consumer. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 608:193–204.

                                        DOI: 10.1177/0002716206291967Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        Many critics of Katz and Lazarsfeld’s work (Katz and Lazarsfeld 1955, cited under Emergence of the Two-Step Concept) argued that they treated consumer choices and political choices at the voting booth as methodologically equivalent. This article argues that that consumer decisions can be, and often have been, political and that that political decisions can be, and often have been, consumer-like. Schudson claims that the distinction between citizen and consumer, intended to highlight the superiority of the citizen’s role, is in fact a damaging distinction. Thus, Schudson calls for a reconsideration of the distinction made between the worlds of politics and consumption.

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                                        • Weimann, Gabriel. 1991. The influentials: Back to the concept of opinion leaders? Public Opinion Quarterly 55:267–279.

                                          DOI: 10.1086/269257Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                          One of the common criticisms of the Columbia School method for identifying opinion leaders was its oversimplification and the somewhat rough distinction into two categories: leaders and non-leaders. This study suggests and tests a new measure to identify opinion leaders (the Strength of Personality Scale). The findings suggest that the influentials identified by this scale are not opinion leaders according to the original conceptualization but fit better the more sophisticated characterization of personal influence. It also yields a continuous scale of opinion leadership, rather than the original dichotomous one.

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                                          The Paradigm’s Fight for Survival

                                          Since the introduction of the two-step flow and opinion leadership concepts, both practitioners and academics have been keenly interested in its applicability in modern society. Numerous studies, such as Levy 1978, Nisbet 2006, and Nisbet and Kotcher 2009, have been conducted to identify potential opinion leaders, learn of the characteristics distinguishing them from their followers, and understand how they exert their personal influence to change opinions and behaviors of the masses. Many of these studies, such as Allen 1969, Black 1982, and Troldahl 1966, have validated that opinion leaders do indeed exist and influence others in various areas, ranging from fashion and consumer decisions to politics. The two-step flow of communication theory has remained relevant throughout the years; however, the theory and method were modified, and the measures became more complex and sophisticated. Moreover, the notion of the two-step flow was related successfully to the notion of agenda setting (Brosius and Weimann 1996 and Weimann and Brosius 1994). See also the Oxford Bibliographies article in Communication Agenda Setting for more information on this specific concept.

                                          • Allen, Irving. 1969. Social relations and the two-step flow: A defense of the tradition. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 46.3: 492–498.

                                            DOI: 10.1177/107769906904600304Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                            The argument of the two-step model that opinion leaders have more knowledge and more social contacts is supported by this study. Using survey data, Allen shows that the relationship between social contacts and event knowledge is increased by the amount of public affairs discussion. The findings validate the main arguments of the original model as suggested by Katz and Lazarsfeld (see Katz and Lazarsfeld 1955, cited under Emergence of the Two-Step Concept).

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                                            • Black, Joan. 1982. Opinion leaders: Is anyone following? Public Opinion Quarterly 46:169–176.‏

                                              DOI: 10.1086/268711Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                              This article describes an attempt to identify respondents whose opinions change earlier than others. The Katz and Lazarsfeld opinion leadership questions (see Katz and Lazarsfeld 1955, cited under Emergence of the Two-Step Concept) were adapted, and opinion leaders were found to change opinions earlier than non-leaders.

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                                              • Brosius, Hans-Bernd, and Gabriel Weimann. 1996. Who sets the agenda? Agenda-setting as a two-step flow. Communication Research 23:561–580.

                                                DOI: 10.1177/009365096023005002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                This study attempt to bridge between two research traditions: agenda-setting research and the two-step flow. It presents and tests four models of a two-step flow of the agenda-setting process. The findings highlight the role of “early recognizers,” not only in identifying emerging issues in the media and diffusing them among the public but also in affecting the media agenda.

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                                                • Levy, Mark. 1978. Opinion leadership and television news uses. Public Opinion Quarterly 42.3: 402–406.‏

                                                  DOI: 10.1086/268463Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                  This study found that public affairs opinion leaders did not watch television news with much greater frequency than non-leaders. However, public affairs opinion leaders were found to use their television news exposure for cognitive orientation more often than others.

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                                                  • Nisbet, Erik. 2006. The engagement model of opinion leadership: Testing validity within a European context. International Journal of Public Opinion Research 18:3–30.

                                                    DOI: 10.1093/ijpor/edh100Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    This article examines the ecological and constructive validity of the engagement model of the opinion leadership developed in the United States in fifteen European nations to assess its validity in other societies.

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                                                    • Nisbet, Matthew, and John Kotcher. 2009. A two-step flow of influence? Opinion-leader campaigns on climate change. Science Communication 30:328–354.

                                                      DOI: 10.1177/1075547008328797Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      This article reviews concepts, measures, and strategies that can be applied to opinion-leader campaigns on climate change. The challenge highlighted for both scholars and practitioners is to understand under what conditions digital opinion-leaders are effective.

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                                                      • Troldahl, Verling. 1966. A field test of a modified “two-step flow of communication” model. Public Opinion Quarterly 30.4: 609–623.

                                                        DOI: 10.1086/267459Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        To test the “two-step flow of communication” hypothesis, a field experiment was conducted in the Boston area. The results of the experiment, reported in this article, although far from definitive, call for a reappraisal of the hypothesis. Thus, Troldahl argues that the two-step flow will be more significant in the case of “imbalance,” that is, when individuals are exposed to mass media content that is inconsistent with their current attitudes or behavioral patterns.

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                                                        • Weimann, Gabriel, and Hans-Bernd Brosius. 1994. Is there a two-step flow of agenda-setting? International Journal of Public Opinion Research 6:323–341.

                                                          DOI: 10.1093/ijpor/6.4.323Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          This study combines two research traditions: the search for opinion leadership, as conceptualized and measured by the Strength of Personality (SP) Scale, and the agenda-setting process. The two-step flow model was used to highlight the role of certain individuals who identify emerging issues in the mass media and then spread these issues to others via their personal networks.

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                                                          Who are the Opinion Leaders?

                                                          The notion of two-step flow relies on the mediating role of certain individuals—the opinion leaders. Who are they, and what are their characteristics? Several studies set out to profile the opinion leaders according to various traits. Asugman, et al. 1994; Chan and Misra 1990; and Roch 2005 focus on personality traits. Others, such as Richmond 1977 and Trepte and Scherer 2010, highlight information acquisition traits or enduring involvement (Venkatraman 1990). Finally, studies such as Richmond and McCroskey 1975 attempt to relate socio-demographic characteristics. This profiling seems to change from traditional to modern societies, as revealed in Weimann, et al. 2007.

                                                          • Asugman, Gulden, Eser Borak, and Muzaffer Bodur. 1994. Opinion leadership and self-monitoring: Evidence for the two-way flow of communications. Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research 1:203–207.‏

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                                                            This study focuses on the correlation between opinion leadership and self-monitoring as a personality trait. The findings reveal that opinion leaders tend to be high self-monitoring individuals. These findings provide additional support for the two-step flow model highlighting opinion leaders as people as self-monitored individuals.

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                                                            • Chan, Kenny, and Shekhar Misra. 1990. Characteristics of the opinion leader: A new dimension. Journal of Advertising 19.3: 53–60.‏

                                                              DOI: 10.1080/00913367.1990.10673192Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              This study highlights the role of a personality trait—public individuation—in the understanding of opinion leadership. Public individuation is the state in which people feel differentiated from other people or choose to act differently from others. The findings of this study show that public individuation was an important attribute in distinguishing between opinion leaders and non-leaders.

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                                                              • Richmond, Virginia. 1977. The relationship between opinion leadership and information acquisition. Human Communication Research 4:38–43.

                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2958.1977.tb00594.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                Studies revealed that opinion leaders have more information on the topic of their leadership, but these do not explain this tendency. This study suggests and examines two theoretical explanations for opinion leaders’ higher level of information: selectivity in exposure to information, and differential attention to information. The results appear to support both explanations.

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                                                                • Richmond, Virginia, and James McCroskey. 1975. Whose opinion do you trust? Journal of Communication 25:42–50.

                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.1975.tb00604.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  In this study, the authors sampled three subject populations to investigate possible differences in the choice of opinion leaders based on either the sex of the subject or the sex of the potential opinion leader.

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                                                                  • Roch, Christine. 2005. The dual roots of opinion leadership. The Journal of Politics 67.1: 110–131.

                                                                    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2508.2005.00310.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    This article examines opinion leaders and their personal attributes. Roch argues that opinion leadership is not singularly rooted in the presence of a certain predisposition or set of personal characteristics as commonly believed. Her findings suggest that opinion leaders appear to gain influence through their informational advantages relative to others rather than from other personal attributes.

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                                                                    • Trepte, Sabine, and Helmut Scherer. 2010. Opinion leaders: Do they know more than others about their area of interest? Communications 35.2: 119–140.‏

                                                                      DOI: 10.1515/comm.2010.007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      Do opinion leaders really know more? In the two studies conducted to answer this question, the authors found that opinion leaders can be divided into informed opinion leaders, who are well-informed about their area of interest, and uninformed opinion leaders, who are ill-informed about the field they claim as theirs.

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                                                                      • Venkatraman, Meera. 1990. Opinion leadership, enduring involvement and characteristics of opinion leaders: A moderating or mediating relationship? Advances in Consumer Research 17.1: 60–67.

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                                                                        Studies found that enduring involvement is a key factor for opinion leadership. However, there are two different relationships—moderating and mediating—between enduring involvement and opinion leadership. This article attempts to determine whether the relationship is moderating or mediating. The findings highlight the mediating role rather than the moderating one.

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                                                                        • Weimann, Gabriel, Deon Tustin, Daan van Vuuren, and Johan Pierre Joubert. 2007. Looking for opinion leaders: Traditional vs. modern measures in traditional societies. International Journal of Public Opinion Research 19:173–190.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/ijpor/edm005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          The studies of opinion leadership were conducted mostly in modern societies. This study is the first attempt to apply the modern Personality Strength (PS) Scale to a traditional community as a method for identifying opinion leaders. This scale was tested and validated in Western societies; however, as this study reports, it was found to be inapplicable in a traditional community.

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                                                                          Methods and Measures

                                                                          The two-step flow model relies on the mediating role of certain individuals—the opinion leaders. How can we identify the opinion leaders? How can we measure their influence? Rogers and Cartano 1962 reviews several methods and techniques that were developed and refined in the search for a better answer to these empirical challenges. Several attempts—Childers 1986; Flynn, et al. 1994; Flynn, et al. 1996; Gnambs and Batinic 2011a; Gnambs and Batinic 2011b; and Jacoby 1974—were devoted to constructing and refining a scale for identifying opinion leaders. Other efforts, such as Corey 1971, Rose and Kim 2011, and Schenk and Rössler 1997, were based on self-identification.

                                                                          • Childers, Terry. 1986. Assessment of the psychometric properties of an opinion leadership scale. Journal of Marketing Research 23:184–188.

                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/3151666Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            This study examines the psychometric properties of the King and Summers 1970 (cited under the Emergence of the Two-Step Concept) self-designating scale of opinion leadership and suggests a modified scale of opinion leadership. The findings highlight the advantages of the revised scale in terms of internal consistency reliability and known-groups validity.

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                                                                            • Corey, Lawrence. 1971. People who claim to be opinion leaders: Identifying their characteristics by self-report. The Journal of Marketing 35:48–53.‏

                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/1250457Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              Can opinion leaders identify themselves as such? Are opinion leaders aware of, and able to report, their own personal influence? This study presents findings that indicate they are. People were identified as opinion leaders by a simple self-report item in a variety of questionnaires, revealing their awareness of their function as influencers.

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                                                                              • Flynn, Leisa Reinecke, Ronald Goldsmith, and Jacqueline Eastman. 1994. The King and Summers opinion leadership scale: Revision and refinement. Journal of Business Research 31:55–64.

                                                                                DOI: 10.1016/0148-2963(94)90046-9Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                Many opinion leadership studies used the seven-item, self-report scale developed by King and Summers 1970, cited under the Emergence of the Two-Step Concept. However, this study presents and tests a revised version of the scale and demonstrates superior psychometric qualities in identifying opinion leaders.

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                                                                                • Flynn, Leisa Reinecke, Ronald Goldsmith, and Jacqueline Eastman. 1996. Opinion leaders and opinion seekers: Two new measurement scales. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 24:137–147.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.1177/0092070396242004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  This paper describes the development and validation of multiple-item self-report scales to measure opinion leadership and opinion seeking for specific product or service domains. The empirical findings highlight the validity, reliability, and efficiency of these scales in the context of marketing.

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                                                                                  • Gnambs, Timo, and Bernad Batinic. 2011a. Evaluation of measurement precision with Rasch-type models: The case of the short Generalized Opinion Leadership Scale. Personality and Individual Differences 50:53–58.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2010.08.021Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    This article suggests the way in which to evaluate the measurement precision of personality scales is by assessing their test–retest error and their convergence within an Item Response Theory (IRT) framework. This is done by applying a new personality scale to assess opinion leadership.

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                                                                                    • Gnambs, Timo, and Bernad Batinic. 2011b. Convergent and discriminant validity of opinion leadership: Multitrait-multimethod analysis across measurement occasion and informant type. Journal of Individual Differences 32:94–102.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.1027/1614-0001/a000040Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      Opinion leadership research has frequently been hampered by the use of various methods and instruments that follow either a domain-specific view of opinion leadership or a more domain-independent trait conceptualization. In this study, multitrait–multimethod matrices are tested regarding their convergent and discriminant validity.

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                                                                                      • Jacoby, Jacob. 1974. The construct validity of opinion leadership. Public Opinion Quarterly 38:81–89.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1086/268136Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        The primary purpose of this study was to apply three different techniques of assessing opinion leadership to several groups of subjects and to measure opinion leadership across three different domains of influence in order to assess their convergent and discriminant validity. The findings highlight a substantial degree of construct validity for the notion of opinion leadership across measures.

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                                                                                        • Rogers, Everett, and David Cartano. 1962. Living research methods of measuring opinion leadership. Public Opinion Quarterly 26:435–441.‏

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1086/267118Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          A basic review of three various measures used to identify the opinion leaders: the sociometric technique, the self-designating opinion leadership scale, and the use of key informants. These methods were updated and refined later, and new measures were added.

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                                                                                          • Rose, Paul, and Jong-Han Kim. 2011. Self-monitoring, opinion leadership and opinion seeking: A sociomotivational approach. Current Psychology 30:203–214.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1007/s12144-011-9114-1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            In this study, a model that includes self-monitoring, status motivation, and belonging motivation as predictors of both opinion leadership and opinion seeking was tested. The findings reveal that self-monitoring was a significant predictor of opinion leadership and that status motivation mediated this relationship. The conclusions highlight motivations such as self-monitoring and suggest that the sociomotivational bases of opinion leadership and opinion seeking differ.

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                                                                                            • Schenk, Michael, and Patrick Rössler. 1997. The rediscovery of opinion leaders: An application of the personality strength scale. Communications 22:5–30.‏

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1515/comm.1997.22.1.5Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              This study examines a measure to identify opinion leaders (the Personality Strength Scale) and combines it with social network analysis. The findings of the study (conducted in Germany) suggest that this scale fits a more complex characterization of opinion leadership, which is based on modifications of the original opinion leader concept.

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                                                                                              Types of Opinion Leaders

                                                                                              The two-step conceptualization highlights the role of opinion leaders, but these influential individuals differ across domains or social categories. Several studies suggested a typology of opinion leaders based on empirical exploration. The early typologies were based on the distinction between “generalized” and “specific” opinion leadership, according to their areas of influence (Silk 1971). Other attempts, such as Myers and Robertson 1972, were directed at identifying the demographic and social characteristics of opinion leaders. Later, Burt 1999 suggested the use of “social capital” to characterize various types of opinion leaders.

                                                                                              • Burt, Ronald. 1999. The social capital of opinion leaders. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 566:37–54.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.1177/0002716299566001004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                Opinion leaders are perceived in this study as “opinion brokers” who carry information between groups. Burt describes how opinion leaders play their role of brokering and uses the concept of social capital to explain the benefits that accrue to these opinion leaders acting as brokers.

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                                                                                                • Myers, James, and Thomas Robertson. 1972. Dimensions of opinion leadership. Journal of Marketing Research 9:41–46.‏

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/3149604Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  This study attempts to examine many dimensions or aspects of the opinion leaders. It does so by using a single method of measurement (self-designation) at a single point in time (spring 1968) among a single population (Los Angeles homemakers) and by examining many leadership dimensions. The findings reveal the characteristics of this type of opinion leaders.

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                                                                                                  • Silk, Alvin. 1971. Response set and the measurement of self-designated opinion leadership. Public Opinion Quarterly 35:383–397.‏

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1086/267923Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    The items in the Rogers self-designating opinion leadership scale is tested by this study. Although the items were shown to be highly intercorrelated, their ability to discriminate consistently between two types of opinion leaders was found to be limited. Thus, the findings indicate that the value of the Rogers scale depends on the area of opinion leadership being studied.

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                                                                                                    The Two-Step Flow and Diffusion of Innovations

                                                                                                    The theory on the diffusion of innovations has been used to study the spread of new ideas and innovations in a wide variety of settings. Rogers 1983, Valente and Davis 1999, and Venkatraman 1989 highlight the role of personal communication, thus revealing the impact of opinion leaders and the two-step flow in the process of diffusion of innovations. Arndt 1968; Shi and Fernandes 2014; Turnbull and Meenaghan 1980; and van Eck, et al. 2011 relate the two-step flow to the diffusion of new products; Leonard-Barton 1985 relates it to technological innovations. The best review of these studies is Rogers 1983.

                                                                                                    • Arndt, Johan. 1968. A test of the two-step flow in diffusion of a new product. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 45:457–465.‏

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/107769906804500306Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Testing the two-step model in the context of marketing and promoting a new product, the findings reveal that, although the model is valid, there also is a flow from non-leaders to opinion leaders. This flow requires reinterpretation of the original model in terms of opinion sharing, as well as opinion giving.

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                                                                                                      • Leonard-Barton, Dorothy. 1985. Experts as negative opinion leaders in the diffusion of a technological innovation. Journal of Consumer Research 11:914–926.‏

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1086/209026Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        When controversial technological innovations are introduced, experts influence the diffusion rate and extent of acceptance of the innovations by acting as negative or positive opinion leaders. Prosthodontists and their selection of opinion leaders are studied, drawing on data from national and local samples of professionals.

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                                                                                                        • Rogers, Everett. 1983. Diffusion of innovations. New York: Free Press.

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                                                                                                          In this renowned book, Rogers explains how new ideas spread via communication channels over time. He argues that the diffusion process relies on opinion leaders whose personal involvement is promoting the diffusion from the few early adapters to the masses. Now in its fifth edition, most recently published in 2003.

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                                                                                                          • Shi, Xiaohui, and Kiran Fernandes. 2014. Exploring the role of innovativeness and opinion leadership in diffusion. International Journal of Innovation Management 18.4: 1–23.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1142/S1363919614500297Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            This study examines the notion of innovativeness in diffusion models. It suggests that innovativeness can serve as an indicator for customers’ opinion leadership. The study’s model describes the roles of innovativeness and opinion leadership in diffusion, and the authors argue that the model presented is useful for identifying opinion leaders.

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                                                                                                            • Turnbull, Peter, and A. Meenaghan. 1980. Diffusion of innovation and opinion leadership. European Journal of Marketing 14:3–33.‏

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1108/EUM0000000004893Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              The authors examine the applicability of the two-step flow model to marketing and suggest several strategies to use opinion leaders in word-of-mouth communication when promoting a product.

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                                                                                                              • Valente, Thomas, and Rebecca Davis. 1999. Accelerating the diffusion of innovations using opinion leaders. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 566:55–67.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1177/0002716299566001005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                This article presents a method to accelerate the diffusion of innovations based on using opinion leaders. The method presented applies an optimal matching procedure and reports on computer simulations that show how much faster diffusion is achieved when the process is initiated by opinion leaders.

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                                                                                                                • van Eck, Peter, Wander Jager, and Peter Leeflang. 2011. Opinion leaders’ role in innovation diffusion: A simulation study. Journal of Product Innovation Management 28:187–203.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5885.2011.00791.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  This study focuses on role that opinion leaders play in the adoption process of new products. The findings of this study show that opinion leaders, in addition to having a more central network position, have more accurate knowledge about a product, tend to be less susceptible to norms, and to be more innovative. Furthermore, opinion leaders increase the speed of the information flow and the adoption process.

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                                                                                                                  • Venkatraman, Meera. 1989. Opinion leaders, adopters, and communicative adopters: A role analysis. Psychology & Marketing 6:51–68.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1002/mar.4220060104Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    This article examines the roles of opinion leaders, adopters, and communicative adopters, suggesting that the roles are different for continuous innovations. Based on a study of moviegoers, this study finds that communicative adopters can be characterized as change agents, opinion leaders as interpersonal communicators, and adopters as nonpersonal influencers.

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                                                                                                                    Applications of the Two-Step Model

                                                                                                                    The flow of information and influence from the media via opinion leaders has been studied in various fields and areas (for a review, see Weimann 1994, cited under General Overviews). Opinion leaders have been studied in politics, health and medicine, marketing, fashion, and other areas. The following sections include some examples from the more popular domains.

                                                                                                                    In Politics

                                                                                                                    Studies on the personal flow of information and influence on political issues and during political campaigns reveal a two-step flow; the flow from the media and campaigns is often filtered and mediated through personal influence and mainly through opinion leaders. Such studies of opinion leaders in politics were related to political extremism (Hellevik and Bjørklund 1991), involvement in politics (Park 2013), and civic participation (Shah and Scheufele 2006). Liu 2007, Norris and Curtice 2008, Robinson 1976, Schenk and Döbler 2002, Sheingold 1973, and Southwell and Yzer 2007 focus on opinion leaders during election campaigns.

                                                                                                                    • Hellevik, Ottar, and Tor Bjørklund. 1991. Opinion leadership and political extremism. International Journal of Public Opinion Research 3:157–181.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1093/ijpor/3.2.157Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      This study examines political extremism in Norway and activity to influence others. The findings reveal a U-shaped relationship between position on a political left–right scale and activity to influence others through personal communication, with the exception of a sharp drop at the extreme left. Five different hypotheses are tested when explaining this pattern of a left dip.

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                                                                                                                      • Liu, Frank. 2007. Constrained opinion leader influence in an electoral campaign season: Revisiting the two-step flow theory with multi-agent simulation. Advances in Complex Systems 10:233–250.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1142/S0219525907001008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        To what extent do political opinion leaders influence voters, especially when voters today are exposed to many information sources? This study attempts to provide an answer based on agent-based modeling in an electoral campaign. The findings suggest that opinion leaders’ influence does not diffuse to the followers without homogenous communication networks.

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                                                                                                                        • Norris, Pippa, and John Curtice. 2008. Getting the message out: A two-step model of the role of the Internet in campaign communication flows during the 2005 British general election. Journal of Information Technology & Politics 4:3–13.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/19331680801975359Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Political activists, it is argued, use the Internet to acquire information about an election; these activists may then disseminate that information more widely. This study found evidence that such a two-step flow of information may well have occurred during the 2005 British election.

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                                                                                                                          • Park, Chang Sup. 2013. Does Twitter motivate involvement in politics? Tweeting, opinion leadership, and political engagement. Computers in Human Behavior 29:1641–1648.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2013.01.044Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            This study finds that Twitter opinion leadership makes a significant contribution to individuals’ involvement in political processes; however, Twitter use or media use motivation does not necessarily help individuals’ political engagement.

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                                                                                                                            • Robinson, John. 1976. Interpersonal influence in election campaigns: Two-step flow hypothesis. Public Opinion Quarterly 40:304–319.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1086/268307Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              This paper reports an analysis of a question series on interpersonal influence, included in the 1968 national election study of the Center for Political Studies. The analysis reveals further difficulties with the two-step flow hypothesis. The results suggest the existence of two distinct patterns of the flow from mass media through opinion leaders in separate segments of the electorate.

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                                                                                                                              • Schenk, Michael, and Thomas Döbler. 2002. Towards a theory of campaigns: The role of opinion leaders. In Public information campaigns & opinion research. Edited by H. Klingemann and A. Römmele, 37–51. London: SAGE.

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                                                                                                                                Chapter 3 is a review of studies on the role of opinion leaders in informational campaigns. The authors focus on the attributes of the opinion leaders, methods used to identify them, and new developments in conceptualizing their role and traits.

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                                                                                                                                • Shah, Dhavan, and Dietram Scheufele. 2006. Explicating opinion leadership: Nonpolitical dispositions, information consumption, and civic participation. Political Communication 23:1–22.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/10584600500476932Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  What are the sources of opinion leadership? Using data from two large national surveys, this study attempts to portray political opinion leaders. The findings reveal that opinion leadership is a consequence rather than a cause of civic participation: opinion leaders in this domain are spurred by their interest in politics and tend to seek out information in the mass media and the Internet, likely as a way to maintain their status as leaders, their influence, and knowledge.

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                                                                                                                                  • Sheingold, Carl. 1973. Social networks and voting: The resurrection of a research agenda. American Sociological Review 38:712–720.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/2094133Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    This article focuses on the failure of researchers to follow up on the classical voting studies. It represents an effort to clarify this issue and suggests a new look at the role of social networks in the study of voting behavior.

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                                                                                                                                    • Southwell, Brian, and Marco Yzer. 2007. The roles of interpersonal communication in mass media campaigns. In Communication yearbook 31. Edited by C. Beck, 420–462. Hoboken, NJ: Taylor & Francis.

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                                                                                                                                      In this review, the authors present theoretical connections between interpersonal communication and mass media effects. They examine studies that help to explain how and why interpersonal talk and mass media efforts routinely affect each other. The review goes back to Personal Influence, the classic book by Katz and Lazarsfeld 1955 (cited under Emergence of the Two-Step Concept), and beyond that to Gabriel Tarde at the end of the 19th century, but it also applies to modern studies on the role of social networks.

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                                                                                                                                      In Health and Medicine

                                                                                                                                      People are seeking information and advice regarding health issues from various sources. As several studies have revealed, this search often leads them to opinion leaders who are better informed and often more powerful than other sources. Several studies—Farley, et al. 2014; Flodgren, et al. 2011; Kelly, et al. 1991; Locock, et al. 2001; and Valente and Pumpuang 2007—focus on the use of opinion leaders in promoting health practices. Other studies reveal the role of opinion leaders in the introduction of a drug (Lee 2010) or in family planning (Rosario 1971).

                                                                                                                                      • Farley, Katherine, Andria Hanbury, and Carl Thompson. 2014. Gathering opinion leader data for a tailored implementation intervention in secondary healthcare: A randomised trial. BMC Medical Research Methodology 14:38.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1186/1471-2288-14-38Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        This study compares two methods of identifying opinion leaders for behavior change interventions in the health domain. Using opinion leaders is an often-used method of influencing such behaviors in implementation studies. The findings suggest the need for seeking alternative methods of identifying opinion leaders.

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                                                                                                                                        • Flodgren, Gerd, Elena Parmelli, Gaby Doumit, et al. 2011. Local opinion leaders: Effects on professional practice and health care outcomes. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 8:3–71.

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                                                                                                                                          This report reviews the results of eighteen studies on opinion leaders and their impact on professional practice and health care outcomes. The results suggest that opinion leaders alone or in combination with other interventions successfully may promote evidence-based practice, but effectiveness varies both within and between studies.

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                                                                                                                                          • ‏Kelly, Jeffrey, J. S. St. Lawrence, Y. E. Davis, et al. 1991. HIV risk behavior reduction following intervention with key opinion leaders of population: An experimental analysis. American Journal of Public Health 81:168–171.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.81.2.168Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            Using an experimental design, this study trained individuals identified as popular opinion leaders to serve as behavior change endorsers to their peers, thus creating opinion leaders. The results reveal that interventions using peer leaders to endorse change are producing or accelerating population behavior changes to lessen the risk of HIV infection.

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                                                                                                                                            • Lee, Annisa Lai. 2010. Who are the opinion leaders? The physicians, pharmacists, patients, and direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising. Journal of Health Communication 15:629–655.‏

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/10810730.2010.499594Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              This study investigates a 2002 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) survey to identify the sources of patients searching for drug information. The findings reveal that the influence of expert opinion leaders of drugs is so strong that the patients even would switch from their own unyielding physicians who do not prescribe drugs as advised by pharmacists.

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                                                                                                                                              • Locock, Louise, Sue Dopson, David Chambers, and John Gabbay. 2001. Understanding the role of opinion leaders in improving clinical effectiveness. Social Science & Medicine 53:745–757.‏

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1016/S0277-9536(00)00387-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                The article presents findings from two initiatives exploring the transfer of research evidence into clinical practice. The comparison made is between expert and peer opinion leaders and the potential for these different actors to be more or less influential at different stages in the innovation process.

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                                                                                                                                                • Rosario, Florangel. 1971. The leader in family planning and the two-step flow model. Journalism Quarterly 48.2: 288–303.‏

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1177/107769907104800213Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  Although the two-step flow model has been found to apply in family planning, studies reveal that family planning opinion leaders differ from opinion leaders in other decision areas. This study suggests four attributes that apply to family planning opinion leaders: (1) sensitivity to relevant information sources, (2) knowledgeability, (3) accessibility, and (4) credibility.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Valente, Thomas, and Patchareeya Pumpuang. 2007. Identifying opinion leaders to promote behavior change. Health Education & Behavior 34:881–896.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/1090198106297855Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    This article presents ten techniques used to identify opinion leaders to promote behavior change. Using about 200 studies that have studied or used opinion leaders, the review presents the advantages and disadvantages of the ten opinion leader identification methods and provides sample instruments for each.

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                                                                                                                                                    In Marketing

                                                                                                                                                    The original two-step flow model was tested in Katz and Lazarsfeld 1955 (cited under Emergence of the Two-Step Concept) in various domains, including daily marketing. Since then, hundreds of two-step studies have been conducted within this domain, revealing the impact of the influential opinion leaders. Some studies, such as Aral 2011; Iyengar, et al. 2011; and Mancuso 1969, focus on opinion leaders and new products, whereas others, such as Chaudhry and Irshad 2013 and Richins and Root-Shaffer 1988, relate the two-step flow to consumer decisions. Research attempts to identify the characteristics of marketing opinion leaders can be found in Robertson and Myers 1969; Shoham, et al. 1998; and Shoham and Ruvio 2008.

                                                                                                                                                    • Aral, Sinan. 2011. Commentary—Identifying social influence: A comment on opinion leadership and social contagion in new product diffusion. Marketing Science 30.2: 217–223.‏

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1287/mksc.1100.0596Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      This article suggests five directions for future research on personal influence and opinion leadership that could improve how we conceptualize and manage social contagions in a variety of domains, especially product diffusion and marketing.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Chaudhry, Shahid Ali, and Waseem Irshad. 2013. Opinion leadership and its role in buyer decision making. Academy of Contemporary Research Journal 2:16–23.

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                                                                                                                                                        This article explores the concept of opinion leadership in the domain of buyers’decision making. It examines their characteristics and identifies the influencing strategies used by opinion leaders. The study is based on secondary resources such as articles and websites.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Iyengar, Raghuram, Christophe Van den Bulte, and Thomas Valente. 2011. Opinion leadership and social contagion in new product diffusion. Marketing Science 30.2: 195–212.‏

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1287/mksc.1100.0566Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          This study examines opinion leadership and social contagion within social networks in the adoption of a new product. In contrast to earlier studies, this study finds evidence of contagion operating over network ties, even after controlling for marketing effort and arbitrary changes.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Mancuso, Joseph. 1969. Why not create opinion leaders for new product introductions? Journal of Marketing 33:20–25.‏

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/1248476Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            This study reports an actual activation of opinion leaders; it is based on building panels of opinion leaders among consumers on the basis of predetermined personal characteristics related to social status. The findings highlight the success of the “created” opinion leaders in promoting a new product.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Richins, Marsha, and Teri Root-Shaffer. 1988. The role of evolvement and opinion leadership in consumer word-of-mouth: An implicit model made explicit. Advances in Consumer Research 15:32–36.‏

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                                                                                                                                                              This article examines the opinion leadership literature to determine how consumer behavior researchers have viewed opinion leadership. It results in an implicit model of opinion leadership implied by consumer behavior researchers. This model is expanded and tested empirically.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Robertson, Thomas, and James Myers. 1969. Personality correlates of opinion leadership and innovative buying behavior. Journal of Marketing Research 6.2: 164–168.

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                                                                                                                                                                The authors assess the relationship of various personality traits to opinion leadership and innovativeness using the California Psychological Inventory. Correlation and regression analysis reveals weak relationships and low predictive ability, but this varies by product category.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Shoham, Aviv, Gregory Rose, and Lynn Kahle. 1998. Opinion leadership and self-concept: An empirical examination. ‏European Advances in Consumer Research 3:204–210.

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                                                                                                                                                                  The notion of opinion leaders is often related to the notion of self-concept. In this study, these two notions are examined and developed. Hypotheses about the role of some facets of self-concept in explaining product-type opinion leadership are being tested, and the findings support the suggested model.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Shoham, Aviv, and Ayalla Ruvio. 2008. Opinion leaders and followers: A replication and extension. Psychology & Marketing 25.3: 280–297.‏

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1002/mar.20209Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    This replication study examines the concepts of opinion leaders and opinion seeking, placing them in a model that includes innovativeness and computer and software use as antecedents. The model is tested empirically using a convenience sample of consumers, The findings reveal that innovativeness and computer usage were found to explain opinion leadership and opinion seeking.

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                                                                                                                                                                    In Fashion

                                                                                                                                                                    As in marketing, the domain of fashion was already used to test the original two-step model by Katz and Lazarsfeld (see Katz and Lazarsfeld 1955, cited under Emergence of the Two-Step Concept). Decisions made regarding fashion items were found to follow the two-step flow, mediated by opinion leaders in this area. Brett and Kernaleguen 1975, Summers 1970, and Workman and Johnson 1993 study the characteristics of fashion opinion leaders. The consumers’ information seeking is studied in Bertrandias and Goldsmith 2006, Goldsmith and Clark 2008, and Polegato and Wall 2009. Targeting opinion leaders in fashion marketing is another aspect, discussed by Vernette 2004.

                                                                                                                                                                    • Bertrandias, Laurent, and Ronald E. Goldsmith. 2006. Some psychological motivations for fashion opinion leadership and fashion opinion seeking. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management 10:25–40.‏

                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1108/13612020610651105Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      This study presents a model of the relationships between consumer need for uniqueness and attention to social comparison information with fashion opinion leadership. The model was empirically tested, and the findings reveal that consumer need for uniqueness and attention to social comparison information were related positively to fashion opinion leadership.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Brett, Joyce, and Anne Kernaleguen. 1975. Perceptual and personality variables related to opinion leadership in fashion. Perceptual and Motor Skills 40:775–779.

                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.2466/pms.1975.40.3.775Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        Randomly selected university women were studied, using measures of opinion leadership in fashion, field dependence, locus of control, and anxiety. The findings reveal the correlation among these variables, highlighting the characteristics of external locus of control and anxiety in the fashion opinion leadership.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Goldsmith, Ronald, and Ronald Clark. 2008. An analysis of factors affecting fashion opinion leadership and fashion opinion seeking. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management 12.3: 308–322.‏

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1108/13612020810889272Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          This study tests hypotheses on the relationships among consumer need for uniqueness, attention to social comparison information, status consumption, and role-relaxed consumption with opinion leadership and opinion seeking for new fashionable clothing. The study reveals the pattern of these characteristics’ relationship with opinion leadership and opinion seeking among fashion consumers.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Polegato, Rosemary, and Marjorie Wall. 2009. Information seeking by fashion opinion leaders and followers. Home Economics Research Journal 8:327–338.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1177/1077727X8000800504Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            This study attempts to identify fashion opinion leaders and followers. A self-designating scale was included in a mailed questionnaire to measure the number, frequency, type, and variety of fashion information sources used by leaders and followers in the fashion adoption process.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Summers, John. 1970. The identity of women’s clothing fashion opinion leaders. Journal of Marketing Research 7:178–185.‏

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/3150106Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              This is an attempt to find the characteristics of opinion leaders of women’s clothing fashion. The findings reveal that substantial differences exist between fashion opinion leaders and non-leaders on a wide variety of demographic, sociological, attitudinal, communication, and fashion involvement measures.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Vernette, Éric. 2004. Targeting women’s clothing fashion opinion leaders in media planning: An application for magazines. Journal of Advertising Research 44:90–107.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/S0021849904040061Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                This study suggests that a media plan targeting clothing fashion opinion leaders can be effective. The findings show that these opinion leaders discuss advertising media and read more women’s fashion magazines and have significantly more affinities with such media than non-opinion leaders.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Workman, Jane E., and Kim K. P. Johnson. 1993. Fashion opinion leadership, fashion innovativeness, and need for variety. Clothing and Textiles Research Journal 11:60–64.‏

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1177/0887302X9301100309Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  This study examines the relationship between need for variety and four consumer groups: fashion opinion leaders, fashion innovators, innovative communicators, and fashion followers. The findings reveal significant differences among these four groups on certain scales of need for variety.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Two-Step Flow in the New Media

                                                                                                                                                                                  The new media environment challenges the traditional communication theories and concepts, blurring the line between mass-mediated communication and personal communication. How will the theory of two-step flow and opinion leadership work in the new decentralized, demassified media environment? The growing number of studies on online opinion leaders demonstrates the longevity of the concept in the new media context (Case, et al. 2004; Vollero, et al. 2016; and Zhang, et al. 2016). However, the new opinion leaders, the “e-fluentials,” now operate on new platforms, using new channels and applying new forms of persuasion, and combine both mass and personal communication (Bodendorf and Kaiser 2010). Huffaker 2010; Lyons and Henderson 2005; Song, et al. 2007; Xu, et al. 2014; and Zhai, et al. 2008 attempt to identify the online opinion leaders.

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Bodendorf, Freimut, and Carolin Kaiser. 2010. Detecting opinion leaders and trends in online social networks. In Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Digital Society, 10–16 February 2010, St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles. Edited by Lasse Berntzen, 124–129. Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Computer Society.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Online postings and sharing information provide an abundance of information on personal experiences and opinions that are extremely relevant for companies and sales organizations. This paper presents a new approach based on social network analysis to detect opinion leaders and opinion trends.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Case, Donald, David Johnson, James Andrews, Suzanne Allard, and Kimberly Kelly. 2004. From two-step flow to the Internet: The changing array of sources for genetics information seeking. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 55.8: 660–669.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1002/asi.20000Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      Information that was once received from friends and acquaintances—the traditional “two-step flow”—is now found easily through the Internet. This study uses survey data to explore the impact of the Internet on the flow of information, the sources used, the two-step flow in the case of genetic testing, and information-seeking behaviors of the public.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Huffaker, David. 2010. Dimensions of leadership and social influence in online communities. Human Communication Research 36:593–617.

                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2958.2010.01390.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                        This article focuses on the communication behaviors of online leaders, or those who influence other members of online communities. It is based on an analysis of discussion groups from Google Groups over two years. The findings show that online leaders influence others through high communication activity, credibility, network centrality, and the use of affective, assertive, and linguistic diversity in their online messages.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Lyons, Barbara, and Kenneth Henderson. 2005. Opinion leadership in a computer-mediated environment. Journal of Consumer Behaviour 4:319–329.

                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1002/cb.22Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          What are the characteristics of opinion leaders within the computer-mediated environment? This study examines the differences between online opinion leaders and online non-leaders and analyzes the implications of opinion leadership theory for e-commerce.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Song, Xiaodan, Yun Chi, Koji Hino, and Belle Tseng. 2007. Identifying opinion leaders in the blogosphere. In CIKM ’07: Proceedings of the sixteenth ACM conference on information and knowledge management: Lisboa, Portugal, Nov. 6–10, 2007. Edited by the Association for Computing Machinery, 971–974. New York: Association for Computing Machinery.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            How can we identify opinion leaders in the blogosphere? The authors propose a novel algorithm called “InfluenceRank” to identify these opinion leaders. The proposed InfluenceRank algorithm ranks blogs according not only to how important they are as compared to other blogs, but also to how novel the information is that they can contribute to the network.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Vollero, Agostino, Alfonso Siano, and Domenico Sardanelli. 2016. Opinion leaders go online: An empirical study on interpersonal influence on purchase intentions in E-retailing. In E-retailing challenges and opportunities in the global marketplace. Edited by Shailja Dixit and Amit Kumar Sinha, 145–166. Hershey, PA: Business Science Reference.

                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9921-2.ch008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              Chapter 8 addresses the issue of online opinion leaders and their characteristics in e-retailing environments. The aim of the chapter is twofold: to identify the main features of opinion leaders in digital contexts and, by means of an exploratory empirical study, to analyze whether they have an impact on the purchase decisions of high involvement products by explaining from where opinion leaders derive their skills.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Xu, Weiai Wayne, Yoonmo Sang, Stacy Blasiola, and Han Woo Park. 2014. Predicting opinion leaders in Twitter activism networks: The case of the Wisconsin recall election. American Behavioral Scientist 58:1278–1293.

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1177/0002764214527091Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                Who are the online opinion leaders in the political domain? This study employs content and network analysis to explore the predictors of opinion leadership in a political activism network on Twitter. The results demonstrate that Twitter users with higher connectivity are the active influencers on the Internet.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Zhai, Zhongwu, Hua Xu, and Peifa Jia. 2008. Identifying opinion leaders in BBS. In Proceedings of the international conference on web intelligence and intelligent agent technology, 9–12 December 2008, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. Edited by Yuefeng Li, Gabriella Pasi, Chengqi Zhang, Nick Cercone, and Longbing Cao, 3:398–401.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Identifying opinion leaders in the Internet is based on the use of global measure algorithms and usually omits the fact that opinion leaders are field limited. This study presents and tests several algorithms, including interest-field–based algorithms, which take into account the users’ interest apace, to identify opinion leaders in BBS. The results suggest that the combination of several algorithms may provide the best prediction of opinion leadership.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Zhang, Leihan, Jichang Zhao, and Ke Xu. 2016. Who creates trends in online social media: The crowd or opinion leaders? Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 21.1: 1–16.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is a study of Weibo, a Twitter-like service in China. It examines the adoption of popular Internet slang, finding two distinct peaks in its temporal evolution. The comparison of the diffusion of these different peaks, suggests that popular attention in the early stage of propagation results in large-scale coverage, whereas the participation of opinion leaders at the early stage only leads to minor popularity.

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