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IU - POLS 103 - Exam 3 Study Guide - Study Guide

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Schools > Indiana University > Political Science > POLS 103 > IU - POLS 103 - Exam 3 Study Guide - Study Guide

IU - POLS 103 - Exam 3 Study Guide - Study Guide

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background image Exam 3 Study Guide Chapter 6, 7, 9 POLS-Y 103 Yellow = Vocab Term Pink = Important Term Bold = Important Point Chapter 6 What is Public Opinion? - Public opinion: citizens’ views on politics and government actions (what 
government should be doing, evaluations on what government is doing, etc.)
- Matters for three reasons 1. Citizens’ political actions (voting, contributing to campaign,  letter-writing to senators, etc.) 2. Examining public opinion helps explain the behavior of  candidates, political parties, and other political actors a. Strong link between citizens’ opinions & candidates’  campaign  strategies and their actions in office b. Politicians look to public opinion to determine what  citizens want from them & how satisfied citizens are 
with their behavior
3. Sheds light on the reasons for specific policy outcomes a. Ex: link exists between public’s demand for new  policies & government spending; when people want 
government to do more, spending increases more 
rapidly
- Different kinds of opinion o Broad expressions Ex: how a person thinks about politics, what a citizen wants from
gov, or principles that apply across a range of issues
Typically form in early life and remain stable over time Liberal or conservative ideology: way of describing political 
beliefs in terms of a position on the spectrum running from 
liberal to moderate to conservative
Political opinions are largely shaped by beliefs that aren’t 
necessarily political (homosexuality rights, religion, etc.)
o Latent opinions Average person does not maintain a set of fully formed opinions 
on all political topics
Many people only have some vague ideas about some subjects,  
and these ideas only become concrete once asked about them
background image People who follow politics have more performed opinions than 
the average American, whose interest in politics is relatively low
Even when people do form opinions in advance, they may not 
remember every factor that influenced their opinion
Individual may identify as liberal or conservative 
but may be unable to explain the reasons behind 
why
- How do people form opinions o Considerations: the basis opinions are formed on when they are formed on the spot Process of forming an opinion is not systematic, rather they  simply use considerations that come to mind immediately; this 
includes people who follow politics & people with little political interest
o According to studies of public opinion, many use a wide range of  considerations Ex: attitudes about immigration are shaped by evaluations of 
the state of the economy; government spending proposals differ 
depending on whether a Republican or Democrat made the 
proposal
o Competing considerations influence the opinion-formation  process Abortion laws- many believe in protecting human life, but also 
believe in allowing women to make their own medical decisions
o Events can influence considerations Ex: after terrorist attacks, terrorism grew to be voted as the 
most important national issue—as opposed to the percentage 
who picked the economy
- Personal knowledge & Considerations o Public opinions on politics often resembles the way most people think  about other aspects of their lives When people are asked for an opinion on a political 
question they know little about, they base their response
on a few general, simple considerations
o It is impossible to accurately measure public opinion once and  for all Opinions may change at the drop of an instant upon thinking of 
another consideration; it reflects the reality of how the average 
person thinks and develops general opinions
Where do opinions come from? Socialization: families & communities o Political socialization: process by which an individual's political opinions are shaped by other people and the surrounding culture o Many political opinions come from parents Ideology, level of trust in others, class, racial and ethnic identity,
etc.
o Personality traits often shape political behavior
background image Research shows people socialized by their community, people  they interacted with while growing up, largely affects their 
political opinions
Events Everyday events to catastrophic ones cause people to reassess their thoughts & opinions on politics & government Some are individual experiences, some are not even a personal 
experience
o Presidents are more likely to get higher approval ratings when  economic growth is high and inflation & unemployment are low; also 
affected by scandals involving his/her administration
John Zaller, political scientist, states that opinion changes  generated by an event are more likely to occur if the event is 
important & unfamiliar. 
That way pre-existing notions won't stand in
the way
Group Identity o Gender, race, income, education level, etc.
o Cohort effects: what causes differences in opinions based on group 
identity o Shape opinions in three ways Those who live in the same area/region or born in the 
same era
Those who are a similar age group Overall support for gay/lesbian marriage has doubled in 
the last decade
Those who look the same Group identities shape partisanship; when deciding which 
party to support, one thinks of the demographic 
groups that support which candidate
Politicians & political actors o Link exists because Americans look to these individuals to for  information due to their presumed knowledge & experience Measuring Public Opinion Mass surveys: way to measure public opinion by interviewing a large sample 
of the population
o Population: group of people whom a researcher or pollster wants to  study o Samples: group of people surveyed within a population in order to  gauge the whole population's opinion; it would be impossible to 
interview the entire population
Alternate technique for measuring public opinion is using focus groups o Focus groups: small groups of people interviewed in a group setting
o Allow respondents to answer more in their own words to provide more 
depth
background image o Issue- small size, cannot be used to draw conclusions to measure  large-scale groups Large-scale surveys Issue scale o For a range of topics, two opposing statements are given &  respondents agree with the ones that come closest to their views—two 
extremes and options in between
 Problems in measuring public opinion o Issues with survey methods Random sample: subsection of a population chosen to 
participate in a survey through a selection process in which 
every member of the population has an equal chance of being 
chosen; improves accuracy of public opinion data
Face-to-face interviews during the day may leave out all those 
who work jobs
Many people refuse to participate in phone surveys Internet polling reduce costs, they lack/question quality Push polls: campaign uses biased survey questions as a 
way of driving support away from an opponent and are 
not legitimate polls designed to measure public opinion
Wording of questions may be misleading or un-telling of 
what the question being posed means
Unreliable respondents Some are reluctant to reveal their opinion and choose to give  socially acceptable answers they believe interviewers want to 
hear
Social desirability bias: people answering surveys being less 
willing to admit to actions or express opinions that they believed
society would disapprove of
o Pollsters resort to asking a question in multiple different ways or asked  questions framed around what the country would answer The accuracy of public opinion o Large gaps in the knowledge of basic political functions in Americans Largely overestimating financial federal spending Not knowing which party controls the House and/or Senate Some situations, there are wildly inaccurate survey results  because people don't take surveys seriously, give thoughtless 
answers to finish quicker, or have a lack of genuine interest
o Survey participants (according to studies) show that people often give  answers they don't have evidence on for the sake of appearing 
informed
o Many supposed facts are actually "contested truths," meaning that  even if people move beyond considerations to develop beliefs, they 
may nevertheless disagree
o Studies show that a subject's ability to express opinions rises if the  questions have something to do with their everyday lives How useful are surveys

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School: Indiana University
Department: Political Science
Course: Intro to American Politics
Professor: Barbour D
Term: Fall 2015
Tags: Politics, american, American Government, and Government
Name: Exam 3 Study Guide
Description: These notes cover material on Chapter 6, 7, 9 for Exam 3
Uploaded: 04/02/2017
17 Pages 106 Views 84 Unlocks
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