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.

The Effects of Published Polls on Citizens


Modern political opinion polls are accompanied by two constants: the debate about their quality on the one hand (→ The Methodological Strengths and Weaknesses of Survey Research), and the debate about their alleged effects in the run-up to elections and voting behavior on the other. The latter includes numerous political efforts (some of which have been implemented) to prohibit publications of opinion polls prior to voting (Foundation for Information, 2003; → The Legal Status of Public Opinion Research in the World). Furthermore, this alleged effect goes hand in hand with the strong assumptions of journalists concerning the impact of publishing poll results (Donsbach & Antoine, 1990; Hardmeier, 2000; → Attitudes of Journalists Toward Public Opinion Research) and soon ...

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