Two-Step Flow Theory

Adriana Vasseur
2 min readJan 23, 2022

The idea of the two-step flow theory is that the flow of how we receive information and our influence from mass media involves two steps: from opinion leaders and from the public. This theory was conducted by Paul Lazarsfeld during the 1940 presidential election campaign as he conducted interviews to document the process on how voters make their ballot decisions. The research later concluded that interpersonal communication played a more significant role in the decision-making process rather than media exposure.

The two-step flow theory states that we receive information through the influence of opinion leaders who then would relay their message to the public. For example, news delivered by some like Oprah Winfrey is likely to be listened by those who advocate for racial and minority issues and those audiences would be gaining most of their information through those leaders. When it comes to my personal consumption of media, I am constantly keeping up with the latest news information through social media platforms. I also get news notifications on my phone from multiple media outlets. I apply the two-step factor theory to the way I gather news through social media, specifically because of the opinion leaders that relay these messages.

For me personally, someone like Sophia Bush, who advocates for women rights, is someone who I chose to consume my media through. I would say that I have listened and watched most of her interviews, speeches, and activations in order to gather information about women rights and women in the workforce. Because of her strong knowledge on the subject, I am one of the many who chose to obtain this information. I chose to share this information on my own social platforms because the topic is something I feel strongly about. From me sharing stories from Bush to my own audience, I am able to reach a whole new mass of people who can benefit from the information I’m relaying.

The way I consume and share my media all ties back to the two-step flow theory. I am consuming media on a topic I want to learn about through an opinion leader who has the most knowledge on the subject. This specific example shows how masses of people are able to obtain their information and conclude their opinions.