Opinion leaders – Do they know more than others about their area of interest?

Communications 35 (2):119-140 (2010)

Abstract

The knowledge of opinion leaders to a certain extent has always been taken for granted by communication scholars. This article investigates what opinion leaders really know. Two studies will be presented to answer the above question. Participants of the first study were assessed according to ratings on three scales of opinion leadership, personality strength and political knowledge. In the second study, respondents were assessed according to ratings of opinion leadership and political knowledge. In both studies, it was found that opinion leaders can be divided into ‘informed opinion leaders’, who know a lot in their area of interest, and ‘uninformed opinion leaders’, who are ill-informed about the field they claim as theirs. In both studies ‘informed opinion leaders’ read newspapers approximately one hour longer per week than ‘uninformed opinion leaders’.

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