The purpose of this study was to examine feelings of students at the College of Wooster regarding political discussion and the sharing of their personal opinions in the presence of others, based on their perceptions, experiences, and political affiliations. Participants of the study were students enrolled at the College of Wooster and were reached using the email distribution technique. Upon agreeing to participate in the study, students completed an electronic survey which consisted of questions regarding their perceptions of the environment, political polarization, their levels of social anxiety, restriction to share, and their feelings toward opinion sharing, political affiliation, and demographics. The findings revealed that students who perceive an unwelcoming environment and feel that their opinions do not align with the majority of their peers and faculty also experience significantly higher levels of social anxiety and restriction to share, along with negative feelings toward opinion sharing. Based on the political affiliation of respondents, those who identified as Republicans were the ones who experienced more negative perceptions of environment and feelings toward opinion sharing, along with higher levels of social anxiety and restriction to share opinions.


Zhu, Yi


Communication Studies


Social Influence and Political Communication


perception, the spiral of silence, social anxiety, polarization

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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