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.

Validation Studies

Michael W.Traugott1

The most common form of measurement of contemporary public opinion is with a research design incorporating a survey or poll and specific operationalizations in the form of a variety of questions. These questions, individually or in combination, measure a range of things that are often arrayed along a continuum from attitudes to behaviors, and they are assumed to be reliable and valid (→ Designing Reliable and Valid Questionnaires). This chapter deals with the ways that a measure becomes validated. The richest literature exists on voting behavior, because it is a relatively common measure in public opinion surveys, and voting records used for validation are easily accessible. However, validation is very important in a number of other research areas where self-reported behavior is ...

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