To Speak or Not to Speak: Predicting College Students’ Outspokenness in the Pro-Democracy Movement in Hong Kong

Wan-Ying Lin, Bolin Cao, Xinzhi Zhang


This study applied the spiral of silence theory to examine college students’ willingness to speak up about the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong in both offline and online scenarios. The results largely confirmed the spiral of silence effect in the offline scenario, but not in the online scenario. The findings also suggested that, instead of considering the opinion climate of the general public as a whole, perceived opinion congruency with the peer group positively affected students’ outspokenness in the offline setting. Other well-established influencing factors, such as fear of isolation and the awareness of consequence, were confirmed in the offline context as well. Moreover, alternative media exposure positively predicted one’s willingness to speak up in both online and offline scenarios. Finally, the applicability of the spiral of silence hypothesis to cyberspace was discussed.


spiral of silence, outspokenness, social movement, alternative media, Hong Kong

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