Follow the Leader: Exploring the Communication of Opinion Leadership within the Black Community

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Patric R. Spence

Second Advisor

Dr. Autumn Edwards

Third Advisor

Dr. Chad Edwards


Opinion leadership, gatewatchers, behavioral intentions, public opinion, communication, African Americans, leadership

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Abstract Only

Restricted to Campus until



Opinion leadership among underrepresented groups is understudied within the field of communication. This study seeks to identify characteristics of opinion leadership within the Black community. Since research on leadership in the Black community has focused primarily on roles of traditional leadership, new findings on opinion leadership will further the exploration of communication within this group. Opinion leaders are suggested as the essential players to the dispersion of information. Using Social Information Processing Theory these characteristics, which have not been clearly outlined in past research, were tested by measuring of credibility behavioral intentions and immediacy. A quasi experimental design was used to test for the characteristics of credibility and influence of behavioral intentions. 164 participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions which consisted of social networking pages, one including the credible characteristics and one without. Results demonstrated that participants who viewed a social media page with the identified characteristics of an opinion leader were more willing to change behavioral intentions and reported higher levels of immediacy thank those who did not.

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