Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Spiral of silence, online news comments, fear of isolation, online anonymity, opinion expression, abortion

Major Advisor

David Atkin

Associate Advisor

Carolyn Lin

Associate Advisor

Diana Rios

Field of Study

Communication Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


This study examines the Spiral of Silence (SoS) phenomenon in online news discussions under the mechanism of online news comments about the issue of abortion. The results from 530 participants in the experiment primarily substantiate that individuals’ fear of isolation fluctuates by context, supplementing the theoretical gray area left in Noelle-Neumann’s original conceptualization. Moreover, the participants’ contextual fear of isolation, perceived online anonymity, opinion congruity with other commenters, and issue involvement significantly predict their willingness to post their own views. Yet, neither their dispositional fear of isolation nor the influence of the media-reported poll results emerged as predictors. The research findings offer support for a more comprehensive conceptualization of SoS components operating in cyberspace contexts.