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 17: Public Opinion and the Third-Person Effect
Public Opinion and the Third-Person Effect
Much contemporary theoretical research on public opinion is concerned not with actual but rather with perceived public opinion—that subjective form embodied in individuals' perceptions of the attitudes and beliefs of others. In many ways, perceived public opinion is the form that matters most. It is important because people will do many things—decide to vote, buy a new blouse, stop smoking, argue about politics, trade in that SUV, sell stock, cut down on pasta—at least partially in response to their perceptions of the opinions of others.
But where do perceptions about the opinions of others arise? How and why do people form these perceptions? Among the many possible answers to these questions is a communication phenomenon, ...