ERIC Number: ED205962
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Aug
A Nation of Bystanders: Psychological Involvement and Public Opinion.
Stevenson, Robert L.; And Others
Three studies were conducted to test the beliefs that respondents' lack of opinions on public issues offer a realistic explanation for the inconsistencies of opinion measurement and that public opinion researchers may err by forcing respondents to express opinions they really do not hold. The first study, a survey of 612 adults, asked the subjects three questions on current issues of varying psychological distance: whether they had an opinion, what the opinion was, and whether they considered themselves personally involved in the issue. The results indicated that psychological involvement and opinion holding were correlated to a degree not often found in social science research. A second study, in which 78 college students ranked the importance of six current events issues, showed that those subjects who saw themselves as psychologically involved in five of the six issues rated the issues higher or as being more salient than those subjects who did not see themselves as psychologically involved. The third study surveyed 600 voters' reasons for voting for and against the 1980 presidential candidates and showed that people who saw themselves as involved in the election had more information and/or opinions than those who did not see themselves as involved. (RL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism (64th, East Lansing, MI, August 8-11, 1981).