The dimensions of expression inhibition: Perceptions of obstacles to free speech in three cultures

Robert O. Wyatt, Elihu Katz, Hanna Levinsohn, Majid Al-Haj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As part of a comparative study of attitudes toward freedom of expression, Americans, Israeli Jews, and Israeli Arabs were asked about the social contexts in which they feel unfree to speak and about the reasons that inhibit them. Home was the least inhibiting locus in all three cultures and, for the U.S. respondents, the workplace was most inhibiting. Responding to a battery of 33 reasons for not speaking out, all three cultures gave highest ratings to items related to the fear of hurting others. Questions measuring fear of being disapproved or hurt by others - including fear of isolation from the majority and fear of legal restraint - were ranked lower. An overall index of inhibition items proved highly reliable cross-culturally. Americans claimed least inhibition and Israeli Arabs most. Males and those with higher education levels and incomes were also less inhibited across the three cultures. Expression inhibition was negatively, though weakly, related to support for expressive rights among both Israeli groups and American whites but not American blacks, where the relation was positive. Expression inhibition was negatively related to political activity among Americans and Israeli Jews but not among Arabs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-247
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Public Opinion Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The dimensions of expression inhibition: Perceptions of obstacles to free speech in three cultures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this