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JournalISSN: 0954-2892

International Journal of Public Opinion Research 

Oxford University Press
About: International Journal of Public Opinion Research is an academic journal published by Oxford University Press. The journal publishes majorly in the area(s): Public opinion & Politics. It has an ISSN identifier of 0954-2892. Over the lifetime, 970 publications have been published receiving 28655 citations. The journal is also known as: IJPOR.

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TL;DR: For instance, the authors found that trust is positively related to well-being, social capital, democratic attitudes, political interest, and external efficacy, suggesting that trust responds to government performance.
Abstract: The expansion of democracy in the world has been paradoxically accompanied by a decline of political trust. By looking at the trends in political trust in new and stable democracies over the last 20 years, and their possible determinants, we claim that an observable decline in trust reflects the post-honeymoon disillusionment rather than the emergence of a more critical citizenry. However, the first new democracies of the ‘third wave’ show a significant reemergence of political trust after democratic consolidation. Using data from the World Values Survey and the European Values Survey, we develop a multivariate model of political trust. Our findings indicate that political trust is positively related to well-being, social capital, democratic attitudes, political interest, and external efficacy, suggesting that trust responds to government performance. However, political trust is generally hindered by corruption permissiveness, political radicalism and postmaterialism. We identify differences by region and type of society in these relationships, and discuss the methodological problems inherent to the ambiguities in the concept of political trust. During the last 25 years, democracy has been adopted as a political system in many societies previously ruled by non-democratic governments or one-party regimes. Democracy has thus expanded its scope as a form of government in the world. This trend started in southern Europe in the mid-1970s, and was then followed in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The fall of communism (1989– 1991) broadened this wave of democratization in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Republics. Today, the number of societies ruled by a democratic government is larger than ever. Paradoxically, our results show that political trust, understood as citizens’ confidence in political institutions, has declined in the new democracies during the last two decades and does not seem to have increased in the established ones either. This paper was originally presented at the 58th Annual Conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), Nashville, TN, May 15–18, 2003. The article was first submitted to IJPOR April 13, 2004. The final version was received January 19, 2005. 32 I N T E R N A T I O N A L J O U R N A L O F P U B L I C O P I N I O N R E S E A R C H It has been argued that this decline is part of a unique trend of political skepticism and civic disengagement, which ultimately will affect the quality of ‘global democracy’ (Putnam, 2002). Trust is especially important for democratic governments since they cannot rely on coercion to the same extent as other regimes. During periods of economic turmoil, for instance, democratic stability requires citizens to have sufficient trust in economic and political institutions to accept temporary economic straits in return for the promise of better conditions in some uncertain future. But when one trusts, one forgoes the opportunity to influence decision making on the assumption that there are shared interests between the individual who trusts and the trustee. The same factors that drive the increasing functional importance of trust also constrain the extent to which people can participate in the decisions that affect their lives. Consequently, declining rates of confidence in political institutions may be a reflection of an increasingly sophisticated citizenry, and a desirable democratic outcome (Hardin, 1999; Warren, 1999; Mishler & Rose, 1997). Mishler and Rose concisely summarize this doubleedged element inherent to political trust: ‘Democracy requires trust but also presupposes an active and vigilant citizenry with a healthy skepticism of government and willingness, should the need arise, to suspend trust and assert control over government’ (1997, p. 419). This double-edged element is fundamental to understanding the meaning of the global decline in political trust and its implications for democracy. We contend that the decline reflects different dynamics and has differentiated effects in established democracies on the one hand, and in new ones on the other. While in the former the decline is associated with a significant intergenerational value change that has taken place among post-war cohorts, it is part of a more general post-honeymoon trend in the latter—a trend which also includes a decline in political participation. An erosion of respect for authority that has come with the development of post-materialist cultures has characterized young cohorts in industrialized nations for more than three decades: When people no longer worry about their survival, they do not need to cling unquestioningly to the authorities they hope will ensure their survival. Instead, as material well-being increases, trust in political institutions and elites is likely to decline as publics begin to evaluate their leaders and institutions by more demanding standards (Inglehart, 2003; Offe, 1999; Patterson, 1999). A strengthening of pro-democratic orientations, at the same time, has characterized this intergenerational value change (Dalton, 2002; Klingemann, 1999). Younger generations show greater tolerance toward diversity, in particular, and a stronger internalization of democratic principles, in general. We expect, therefore, these two convergent forces, the shift in value priorities and the increasing attachment toward democracy, to interact strongly with the decline of political trust in established regimes. T R E N D S I N N E W A N D E S T A B L I S H E D D E M O C R A C I E S 33 Fluctuations in trust have, however, been subjected to essentially different dynamics in new democracies. As surveys conducted there at the time of transition as well as several years later show, the enthusiasm for the arrival of democracy seems deflated, reflecting a pattern similar to the honeymoon periods in presidential approval ratings (Inglehart & Catterberg, 2003). In many countries, transition to democracy motivated aspirations of civil, political, and economic rights. As a result of these new demands, higher standards for evaluating governmental performance emerged after regimes had changed. In a significant number of cases, however, basic needs of vast segments of the population have not yet been met—partly due to the distributional effects of dramatic economic transformations. This increased people’s skepticism. We expect the erosion of political trust in new democracies, therefore, to be more closely linked to disillusionment and disaffection rather than to the emergence of a more critical citizenry. The objective of this paper is to analyze individual bases of political trust in society. We use the distinctive dynamics sketched above precisely as a frame to identify some of these determinants both in new and established democracies, studying their differences and commonalities. We first examine trends in political trust over time. Then we build a model of political trust. We use data from several nations included in at least two of the four waves of the World Values Surveys (WVS) and the European Values Surveys (EVS), which were conducted between 1981 and 2000. Finally, concluding remarks round off the empirical findings. MEASURING POLITICAL TRUST Ambiguity seems inherent to the concept of political trust. In fact, one of the main problems in the literature is the unclear differentiation between trust in political institutions and evaluations of government performance, leading to serious operationalization problems. This has been evident since the 1960s (Easton, 1965; Miller, 1974), but there are few efforts for clarification. Instead, much of the recent literature uses political trust and trust in government performance as interchangeable notions (Hibbing & Theiss-Morse, 2001, Nevitte & Kanji, 2002). The U.S. literature, based on the National Election Studies (NES) indices, emphasizes elements of ethics, honesty, and integrity of governmental officials and legislators: (1) ‘How much of the time do you think you can trust the government in Washington to do what is right . . .?’ (2) ‘Do you think that people in government waste a lot of money we pay in taxes . . .?’ (3) ‘Would you say the government is pretty much run by a few big interests looking out for themselves or that it is run for the benefit of all the people?’ (4) ‘Do you think that quite a few of the people running the government are crooked . . .?’ In our view this operationalization seems to have some endogeneity in it, raising the question of the extent to which components (2), (3), and (4) explain component (1). 34 I N T E R N A T I O N A L J O U R N A L O F P U B L I C O P I N I O N R E S E A R C H In this paper, as mentioned above, we refer to political trust as citizen’s confidence in political institutions, using the question ‘For each of the following organizations, could you tell me how much confidence you have in them?’ Conceptually, therefore, our approach is more similar to the one developed in the comparative literature, but we have incorporated new elements of analysis related to questions of integrity as a component of political trust, in particular, the issue of corruption. Our focus is on political institutions rather than government performance, but it is clear that confidence in such institutions reflects people’s evaluations of the political environment. One of our main findings is that political trust has declined, rather than increased, in newly democratic societies. A possible explanation lies in a natural process of post-honeymoon disaffection among the new democracies’ publics. Without doubt, legislators and bureaucrats, party leaders and union representatives are among the most noticeable political actors in democratic polities, along with the executive representatives: presidents and prime ministers. However, an operationalization of trust in government based on questions about political actors may make the concept more sensitive to government performance. Based on d

453 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors provide a comprehensive summary of the types of response styles, lists their potential sources, and discusses ways to diagnose and control for them, and further areas for further research on RS are proposed.
Abstract: Although the purpose of questionnaire items is to obtain a person’s opinion on a certain matter, a respondent’s registered opinion may not reflect his or her ‘‘true’’ opinion because of random and systematic errors. Response styles (RSs) are a respondent’s tendency to respond to survey questions in certain ways regardless of the content, and they contribute to systematic error. They affect univariate and multivariate distributions of data collected by rating scales and are alternative explanations for many research results. Despite this, RS are often not controlled in research. This article provides a comprehensive summary of the types of RS, lists their potential sources, and discusses ways to diagnose and control for them. Finally, areas for further research on RS are proposed.

329 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Stuart Soroka1
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors use a longitudinal dataset of Canadian newspapers, results from public opinion polls, and measures of attention to issues in Question Period, committees, Throne Speeches, and legislative initiatives to build a more accurate and comprehensive model of the expanded agenda-setting process.
Abstract: Agenda-setting hypotheses inform research on both media influence and policy making. The study draws from these two literatures, building a more accurate and comprehensive model of the expanded agenda-setting process. Evidence is derived from a longitudinal dataset, including a content analysis of Canadian newspapers, results from public opinion polls, and measures of attention to issues in Question Period, committees, Throne Speeches, and legislative initiatives from  to . A model is estimated that accommodates dynamic, multi-directional effects. Findings are presented for three issues—inflation, environment, and debt/deficit—with an eye on examining different agenda-setting dynamics, and the degree to which these dynamics are linked to issue attributes. The results () demonstrate the value of an agenda-setting framework and a means of modelling media effects and the policy making process, and () indicate the importance of taking issue attributes into account in predicting or accounting for agenda-setting effects. Relationships between mass media, the public, and policymakers are at the centre of both political communications and everyday politics. These interactions reach into a wide range of research interests, including the media’s role in the formation of public opinion and public policy, and the degree to which public policy follows or leads public opinion. Abstractly, we might reflect on the wider implications these relationships have for democratic theory or institutional development. Concretely, we might consider what they tell us about day-to-day This article was first submitted to IJPOR April , . The final version was received July , . The author wishes to thank Richard Johnston, Byron Shafer, and the Journal’s anonymous referees for their comments on previous versions of this paper, Donald Blake, Bryan Jones, Richard Jenkins, and Patrick Fournier for their helpful comments on related work, and William Veloce and Lewis Soroka for their help with economic and statistical matters. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada provided support for this research in the form of a doctoral fellowship. Public opinion data analysed within were made available by the University of British Columbia Numeric Data Services, the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Queen’s University, and the Carleton University Data Centre. None of these institutions or individuals bears any responsibility for errors or omissions in the final product.  World Association for Public Opinion Research                 interactions between newspapers, television, citizens, politicians, and bureaucrats. That these topics are typically examined only in part is no surprise, considering the scope of the territory covered. An agenda-setting framework offers the possibility of looking concurrently at a wide range of political relationships, however, and of empirically mapping political communications at the societal level. Admittedly, agenda-setting research has rarely capitalized on this potential. Work on public agenda-setting has seldom drawn from policy agenda-setting research, and vice versa. Nevertheless, past work suggests that agenda-setting models are capable of accommodating both media-public dynamics and the relationships between these actors and the policy process. The paper that follows represents one attempt at doing exactly this. It is based on data for three issues from Canada, but the model is easily adapted to any issue in any democracy. Policy measures will likely change with different governing institutions, of course, as will media-public-policy relationships. But the general tenets upon which this research is based—the value of an agenda-setting framework, a statistical model of the expanded agenda-setting process, and an acknowledged relationship between agenda-setting dynamics and issue attributes—are described here with the expectation that they are valuable beyond the Canadian examples used below. We begin with a brief review of public and policy agenda-setting research. This body of research is considerable, as are its contributions to political science and communications. Nevertheless, the literature has remained splintered and is often beleaguered by methodological difficulties. Some of these difficulties are described below, and a new model and measures are presented with the aim both of uniting the vast bodies of past public and policy agenda-setting work, and of better accommodating dynamic, multi-directional relationships. This model is then estimated for three issues in Canada—inflation, environment, and debt/deficit. Results are discussed as they pertain to the Canadian experience in particular and, more generally, to the agenda-setting framework and the connection between issue attributes and issue dynamics. AGENDA-SETTING: PROBLEMS AND POTENTIAL Agenda-setting research focuses not on issue opinions, per se, but on issue salience. Cohen was the first to state what has become the central public agenda-setting hypothesis: the press ‘may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about’ (Cohen , p. ). Following from Cohen’s discussion, public agenda-setting work demonstrates that increased issue salience for the media leads to increased issue salience for the public—in agenda-setting terms, that the media agenda has an impact on the public agenda, where an                agenda is a ‘ranking of the relative importance of various public issues’ (Dearing , p. ). McCombs and Shaw’s () study stands as the first empirical public agenda-setting study; well over  have followed in their footsteps. Cobb and Elder (), meanwhile, have used a similar framework to examine public policy formation. Subsequent policy agenda-setting studies examine relationships between media and policy, as well as public and policy agendas. Studies by Kingdon () and Baumgartner and Jones () represent the current state of this line of research; in their consideration of public opinion, in fact, Baumgartner and Jones’ work stands as one of the few recent policy-oriented studies to draw from both the public and policy agenda-setting traditions. The combination of empirical work on public opinion and on public policy is long overdue; recent efforts include only half-hearted attempts to build models using both public opinion and policy measures. Nevertheless, it is clear that effects of/on the public and of/on policymakers are intimately connected, and the most significant advantage of an agenda-setting framework is its ability—through the use of a common vernacular and directly comparable measures—to combine mass media analysis, public opinion research, and studies of the policymaking process. In this way, agenda-setting work is uniquely qualified to offer empirical accounts of political communications at the societal level. A central goal of the current work is to demonstrate this fact, by making an explicit effort to combine public opinionand policy-oriented agenda-setting analysis, and by building a model that empirically links media, public, and policy agendas. Combining disparate literatures on agenda-setting is the first goal of this project; recognizing and accommodating for the fact that different issues will have different agenda-setting dynamics is the second. Different issues have led to markedly different agenda-setting results, after all, and recent work suggests that the direction of media-public, media-policy, and public-policy relationships vary both across issues and over time (Brosius and Kepplinger , Gonzenbach , Soroka a). Different hypotheses have been offered to account for this varied evidence. Some is due simply to methodological differences—measures of agendas and means of analysis have varied widely. Issue attributes also play a role, however. Zucker’s () ‘obtrusiveness’ hypothesis is perhaps the bestknown issue attribute theory: he suggests that the more obtrusive an issue is—the more likely individuals experience it directly—the less potential there is for media effects on public opinion. Other authors have suggested additional hypotheses: () ‘concrete’ issues should be more open to media effects than 1 For thorough reviews of the agenda-setting literature, see Dearing and Rogers (), McCombs and Shaw (), and Rogers et al. (). 2 There is no equivalent review of the policy agenda-setting literature, although some of it is covered in the public agenda-setting reviews. For a representative sample of work on the USA—other than those mentioned above—see Mayer (), Page and Shapiro (, ), Pritchard (), and Wanta et al. (); for work on Canada, see Howlett (, ) and Soroka (b, ).                ‘abstract’ issues (Yagade and Dozier ); () the public has a limited attention span, so issues that are salient for a long period will eventually offer less opportunity for media impact (Downs , Zucker ); () issues that involve dramatic events or conflict should have an increased potential for media attention and effects on public opinion (MacKuen and Coombs , Wanta and Hu ). In spite of their potential for accounting for (and predicting) variation in agenda-setting effects, hypotheses about the role of issue attributes in agenda-setting have received only intermittent attention in the public agendasetting literature. Moreover, they have tended to deal more with the media-public link than with links between these and policy agendas. In fact, no effort has been made to test hypotheses regarding the role of issue attributes in the larger agenda-setting process. Accordingly, three issues—inflation, environment, and debt/deficit—are examined below with an eye toward

315 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Findings from a mail survey of New York State residents that depicts a ‘low information’ public relying heavily on heuristics such as value predispositions, trust, and schema to form an opinion about agricultural biotechnology are reported.
Abstract: This study uses the contemporary debate over agricultural biotechnology to conceptualize a theoretical model that can be used to explain how citizens reach judgments across a range of science and technology controversies. We report findings from a mail survey of New York State residents that depicts a ‘low information’ public relying heavily on heuristics such as value predispositions, trust, and schema to form an opinion about agricultural biotechnology. Science knowledge does play a modest role, with the news media serving as an important source of informal learning. Contrary to expectations and past research, we do not find any direct effects for news attention on support for agricultural biotechnology. Deference to scientific authority is a central value predisposition shaping support for agricultural biotechnology. Positively correlated with education, deference to scientific authority is the strongest influence on support for agricultural biotechnology in our model. Part of the variable's influence is direct, but part of it is also indirect, as deference to scientific authority is a key predictor of both trust in the sponsors of biotechnology and generalized reservations about the impacts of science.

309 citations

No. of papers from the Journal in previous years