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Opinions that individuals hold about an issue are potentially quite complex, considering how opinions comprise beliefs, feelings, and values on that issue. As a result, survey questions designed to assess a respondent's opinion on an issue can tap a combination of the respondent's feelings and thoughts. As composite measures, however, opinions are gauged through a variety of opinion items.

The most basic opinion question, sometimes called an “attitude question,” is designed to measure the direction of opinion. That is, where does the respondent stand on the issue or attitude object? Such opinion items, typically closed-ended, can be dichotomous in nature (e.g. Do you support or oppose abortion? Answer categories: Support; Oppose. Are you in favor of the death penalty for a person convicted of murder? Answer ...

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