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.

The Psychology of Survey Response

The psychology of survey response

Since the beginning of public opinion surveys, researchers have been aware that minor changes in question wording, format, or order can profoundly affect respondents' answers (Cantril, 1944; Payne, 1951). Nevertheless, the field has long been characterized by two largely separate streams: rigorous theories of sampling on the one hand, and an experience based ‘art of asking questions’ on the other hand. This changed since the early 1980s, thanks to a collaboration of survey methodologists and cognitive psychologists, who brought theories of language comprehension, memory, and judgment to bear on the response process(for reviews see Sudman, Bradburn,& Schwarz, 1996; Schwarz, 1999; Tourangeau, Rips, & Rasinski, 2000; and the contributions in Sirken et al., 1999). This chapter highlights ...

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