Lamm, K. W., & Lamm, A. J. C., H.S. . (2014). Opinion Leadership Development: Context And Audience Characteristics Count. Journal of Agricultural Education, 55(2), 91-105. doi: 10.5032/jae.2014.02091


Opinion leaders have been shown to have a significant amount of influence on their peers, yet there is little research examining how individual traits of opinion leaders are related. Generally the assumption is that these individuals share characteristics consistent with the literature; specifically that leaders tend to be optimistically oriented and willing to take risks. Without specific empirical evidence to support this assumption agricultural leadership development programs may be structuring their curriculum in a manner inconsistent with the needs of their intended audience. This study examined opinion leader characteristics related to optimism and willingness to take risks in an agricultural leadership development program. The findings suggest that contrary to the assumption that an agricultural context would not influence characteristics, this context was germane and these individuals tended to exhibit a less optimistic perspective and were less willing to take risks than anticipated. Recommendations for modifying developmental and communication approaches with these individuals include framing messages in pragmatic terms (versus optimistic), and addressing items in terms of risk avoidance (versus risk taking).

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