The Two-Step Flow Model of Communication


The mass communication theory of the two-step flow model describes how firstly, certain individuals considered to be “opinion leaders” receive and interpret information directly from mass media. They in turn pass on their interpretations along with the media information itself, thus influencing their subject’s interpretations. The diagram below shows how this works:

When individuals receive media information via an intervening opinion leader, such as a cultural commentator, film reviewer or even blogger, they are still reading the media in their own way, only with the added influence of someone else’s opinion which they value.

As a recognised film reviewer – having presented ‘The Film Programme’ (e.g. ‘Film 2007’, ‘Film 2008′, etc.) since 1999 – Jonathan Ross gives his critical opinions on the weekly show of the most recent and up-and-coming films, directors and DVD releases. Would you say that the following clip has the ability to influence audience opinion of the discussed film? Remember, those who have seen the film prior to Ross’ review would not fit into the two-step flow model, but those who have not seen it would do. How could he affect their decision-making?

The two-step flow model is considered to be an explanation for understanding how mass media influences decision-making and public opinion, and how, occasionally, media campaigns can fail to change their audience’s attitudes (e.g. political election campaigns are especially vulnerable to the effects of this kind of intervention).


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