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Studying Public Opinion Using Survey Experiments

Case
By: Jennifer Bachner Published: 2019 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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Abstract

Survey experiments are a frequently used methodological tool to study public opinion. This case discusses how a survey with a series of embedded experiments was used to examine how public opinion can be manipulated through the strategic framing of historical and future issues. The case first reviews the motivation and design of the survey and then discusses key practical considerations of survey administration, including pre-testing and obtaining Institutional Review Board approval. Next, the case outlines how to evaluate whether a survey went as planned, which can be accomplished by testing for random assignment to the treatment groups and identifying any biases that may have influenced the results. Finally, the case reflects on the lessons learned, such as the importance of proofreading the questions and answer choices with extreme care, using descriptive statistics to orient readers to the dataset and discussing the real-world implications of the key findings.

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