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The spiral of silence is a political science and mass communication theory propounded by the Germanpolitical scientistElisabeth Noelle-Neumann. Spiral of silence theory describes the process by which one opinion becomes dominant as those who perceive their opinion to be in the minority do not speak up because society threatens individuals with fear of isolation. The assessment of one's social environment may not always be correct with reality. 
"Introduced in 1974, the Spiral of Silence Theory is one that explores hypotheses to determine why some groups remain silent while others are more vocal in forums of public disclosure."
This theory explains the formation of social norms. It occurs at both the micro and macro level. "As a micro-theory, the spiral of silence examines opinion expression, controlling for people's predispositions - such as fear of isolation, and also demographic variables that have been shown to influence people's willingness to publicly express opinions on issues, such as agricultural biotechnology." The spiral of silence occurs on a macro level if more and more members of the perceived minority fall silent. This is when public perceptions of the opinion climate begin to shift.  "In other words, a person's individual reluctance to express his or her opinion, simply based on perceptions of what everyone else thinks, has important implications at the social level."  As one opinion gains the interest of the majority, the minority faces threat and fear of isolation from society. As the opinion gains momentum by the majority, the minority continues to be threatened and falls deeper into their silence. It continues until the minority no longer speaks out against it, and the opinion of the perceived majority ultimately becomes a social norm.