D. Garth Taylor is an Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago. The author wishes to thank the anonymous referees for this journal for some thoughtprovoking and interesting comments.
This article is a formal analysis of the theory of the spiral of silence and the theory of pluralistic ignorance. The article develops a set of five hypotheses about the relationships among the variables in each theory of how individuals perceive public opinion. The hypotheses are tested and the points of success and failure for each theory are noted. Finally, a general argument is made linking the spiral of silence and theories of the perception of public opinion to the analysis of the general class of social choice situations where peoples' expectations influence the outcome. The spiral of silence provides a number of different tools for analyzing the buildup of expectations in such settings.