Public Opinion

By Carroll J. Glynn; Susan Herbst et al. | Go to book overview
Save to active project

dramatically. Measured changes in public tolerance for nonconformity have also been affected by changes in social context as the apparent Communist threat waxed and waned.

However, sometimes theory can help us to interpret otherwise confusing data. For example, the concept of a norm and the theories that come to us from social psychology can help us to understand why respondents sometimes lie to researchers about their "real" opinions. Theories such as cognitive dissonance can explain why it is that some people's opinions do not seem to go together. Theories about the public's lack of knowledge and the reasons for it offer alternative explanations for the same phenomenon. Theories about the role of the media, about the structure of government, and about the connections between public opinion and public policy may help us to understand why public faith in government is declining.

The relationship between theory and data is interdependent. Theories are developed based upon the research techniques and measurement instruments that exist or can be devised. Theories cannot be supported or refuted in the absence of data. Data cannot be effectively interpreted in the absence of theory. The drive to produce better ways of measuring public opinion and better theories to interpret it go hand in hand.


Notes
1.
Howard Schuman, Charlotte Steeh, and Lawrence Bobo, Racial Attitudes in America ( Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985).
2.
Benjamin I. Page and Robert Y. Shapiro, The Rational Public: Fifty Years of Trends in Americans' Policy Preferences ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992).
3.
Note that the scale for this question has been transformed. The trend line depicts the percentage of respondents who said they opposed laws forbidding interracial marriage.
4.
Page and Shapiro, Rational Public, p. 114.
5.
Dennis Chong, "Tolerance and Social Adjustment to New Norms and Practices," Political Behavior 16 ( 1994):21-53.
6.
Page and Shapiro, Rational Public.
7.
The author would like to thank James Shanahan for his helpful contributions to this section.
8.
Anthony Downs, "Up and Down with Ecology: The 'Issue-Attention Cycle,'" Public Interest 28 ( 1972):38-50.
9.
Riley E. Dunlap, "Public Opinion and Environmental Policy," in J. P. Lester, ed., Environmental Politics and Policy ( Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1989).
11.
See, for example, Bente Lis Christensen and Jorgen Stig Norgard, "Social Values and the Limits to Growth," Technological Forecasting and Social Change 9 ( 1976):411-423; Thomas Devaney Harblin, "Mine or Garden? Values and the Environment--Probable Sources of Change in the Next Hundred Years," Zygon 12

-377-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Public Opinion
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 478

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?