The Decatur Study and the Role of Personal Influence 53 years ago, Elihu Katz and Paul F. Lazarsfeld published the Personal Influence . It reports the results of a pioneering study conducted in Decatur, Illinois, the Decatur study. They formulated a breakthrough theory of public opinion formation that sought to reconcile the role of media influence with the growing realization that in a variety of decision-making scenarios, for instance, public affairs, fashion, movie-going, and consumer behavior, individuals may be influenced more by exposure to each other than to the media. According to their theory, a small minority of opinion leaders act as intermediaries between the mass media and the majority of society. Katz and Lazarsfeld defined opinion leaders as “the individuals who were likely to influence other persons in their immediate environment.” (Katz, Lazarsfeld 360) Katz focused exclusively on women and was particularly interested in the ways in which another woman might influence women’s decisions and it arguably supplied
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