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.
Chapter 13: Conceptions of Attitudes and Opinions
Conceptions of Attitudes and Opinions
It is hard to think of a concept that is more central to social psychology than the concept of attitudes. Social psychology began as the study of attitudes (Thomas & Znaniecki, 1918), and attitudes have remained a major preoccupation of social psychologists ever since. This interest in attitudes and such closely related notions as public opinion is hardly restricted to social psychologists: these are key concepts for pollsters, sociologists, political scientists, and policy makers as well. Like most concepts in the social sciences, the concept of attitudes has evolved considerably over the years in response both to empirical findings and theoretical developments. As a result, there have been multiple definitions for the concept of attitudes, and ...