CONSTRAINED OPINION LEADER INFLUENCE IN AN ELECTORAL CAMPAIGN SEASON: REVISITING THE TWO-STEP FLOW THEORY WITH MULTI-AGENT SIMULATION
FRANK C. S. LIU
The conventional wisdom derived from the two-step flow theory suggests that opinion leaders have great influence on their followers. However, it has been difficult for social scientists to measure and describe the extent to which political opinion leaders influence voters, especially when voters today access multiple information sources like communication networks and self-selected news media. This paper fills this gap by using agent-based modeling to represent what the two-step flow theory describes about opinion leader influence and refines the theory based on the findings. First, opinion leader influence does not diffuse to the public without homogeneous communication networks. Second, opinion leader influence usually does not diffuse widely to the public because it inevitably faces resistance from self-strengthening communication networks.
Opinion leader influence, two-step flow theory, communication networks, media influence, agent-based modeling
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