Survey Methods, Traditional, Public Opinion Polling

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Traditional public opinion polls are surveys in which a random sample of a given population is asked questions about their attitudes, knowledge, or behavior. If conducted properly, the answers from such surveys are approximately representative of the entire population. Traditional public opinion polling is typically based on four different methods of data gathering, or combinations hereof: face-to-face, postal surveys, phone surveys, and web surveys. Given that opinion polls are based on a sample, we cannot be sure that the sample reflects public opinion perfectly, however—even if randomness is perfect. Moreover, responses may be highly dependent on the contextual information provided with the question. Also, it may be difficult to capture past or complex causes of attitudes or behavior. In short, surveys are a precise way of measuring public opinion, but they do not come without challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Communication Research Methods
EditorsJörg Matthes
Publication date2017
ISBN (Electronic)9781118901731
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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