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.

Split Ballots as an Experimental Approach to Public Opinion Research


As a rule, experiments play a relatively minor role in practical survey research, even though they are not, as is often assumed, only an important tool for obtaining insights in the field of psychology. Rather, they enable researchers in the fields of sociology, political science, communication research, market and media research and all other disciplines that use the methods of empirical social research to obtain insights that could not be gained by means of any other methodological approach. The following chapter aims to outline the vital role the experiment has played in the development of the social sciences, while also explaining the basic principle of the split-ballot experiment and discussing the importance of this method ...

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