Public opinion theory and research are becoming increasingly significant in modern societies as people's attitudes and behaviors become ever more volatile and opinion poll data becomes ever more readily available. This major new Handbook is the first to bring together into one volume the whole field of public opinion theory, research methodology, and the political and social embeddedness of polls in modern societies. It comprehensively maps out the state-of-the-art in contemporary scholarship on these topics.

With over fifty chapters written by distinguished international researchers, both academic and from the commercial sector, this Handbook is designed to:

Give the reader an overview of the most important concepts included in and surrounding the term ‘public opinion’ and its application in modern social research; Present the basic empirical concepts for assessing public opinion and opinion changes in society; Provide an overview of the social, political and legal status of public opinion research, how it is perceived by the public and by journalists, and how it is used by governments; Offer a review of the role and use of surveys for selected special fields of application, ranging from their use in legal cases to the use of polls in marketing and campaigns.

The SAGE Handbook of Public Opinion Research provides an indispensable resource for both practitioners and students alike.

Public Opinion and the Third-Person Effect

Albert C.Gunther,Richard M.Perloff andYarivTsfati

Much contemporary theoretical research on public opinion is concerned not with actual but rather with perceived public opinion—that subjective form embodied in individuals' perceptions of the attitudes and beliefs of others. In many ways, perceived public opinion is the form that matters most. It is important because people will do many things—decide to vote, buy a new blouse, stop smoking, argue about politics, trade in that SUV, sell stock, cut down on pasta—at least partially in response to their perceptions of the opinions of others.

But where do perceptions about the opinions of others arise? How and why do people form these perceptions? Among the many possible answers to these questions is a communication phenomenon, first named ...

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