Spiral of silence
In order to assess the effect of government surveillance on peoples' willingness to express ideas, Stoycheff used a theory posited in the 1970s called the spiral of silence. The theory "fundamentally contends that individuals, motivated by fear of isolation, continuously monitor their environments to assess whether their beliefs align with or contradict majority opinion. Consequently, perceptions of an incongruent, or hostile, opinion climate reduce individuals’ willingness to speak out, leading to a silencing of minority attitudes over time and posing a threat to democratic discourse", Stoycheff explains.

Self-censorhip
The central question of Stoycheff's research is whether knowledge of being monitored online, amplifies a person's tendency to keep dissenting opinions to themselves. At the beginning of the paper she posits 4 hypotheses: taking the spiral of silence theory as a starting point, she assumes that people - both offline and online - are more willing to voice their opinion when they believe the majority agrees with them. This is called a friendly climate of opinion. A hostile climate of opinion, on the other hand, increases self-censorhip.

Stoycheff's second hypothesis is that under the shadow of government surveillance, people are less willing to express political opinions in general and (3) even more so when they hold a minority view. And, lastly, she assumes that a person's judgement about the validity of government surveillance, influences how they react to it. Those who approve of it - for instance, because they believe surveillance is in the interest of national security - are more likely to show conformist behavior when exposed to it, then those who condemn it.
 
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