The current population is divided, and it has become almost impossible to accurately hypothesis how the general public feels on a certain topic, issue or current event. Researchers have turned to Public Opinion Polling, defined as “a scientific, nonbiased public opinion poll is a type of survey or inquiry designed to measure the public’s views regarding a particular topic or series of topics .” In short, public opinion research surveys cross-sections of RANDOM people, in hopes of accurately predicting a general opinion or attitude. When everyone in a survey frame has an equal chance of participating, the survey would not be considered to have selection bias.
How Public Opinion Polls Work:
Public Opinion Polling asks the same exact questions to participants then a representative sample is used to generalize the specific population being studied. These polls are important because it shows us how a population feels and thinks about a certain topic. The most popular ways to conduct opinion polls are typically face to face or over the phone. Other methods include mail, online, and self-administered surveys. RICS focuses on the “phone interviews” and conduct the surveys a few ways:
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR) – the caller never speaks to a human and they answer questions by pressing numbers on their phone keypad.
- IVR to Web – The caller answers a few questions on the IVR to indicate they are qualified, then finish the survey online.
- IVR to Live Agent – The caller answers a few questions on the IVR to indicate they are qualified, then finish with a live agent.
Benefits of Public Opinion Polls
There are many advantages to using opinion polls. They are quick to administer, can be cost-effective and can be conducted remotely and across various modes (via web, phone, mail, etc.). Another one of the major benefits is that a wide range of information can be collected (attitudes, beliefs, values, behaviour), and because they are standardized, they are relatively free from several types of errors. Lastly, statisticians can utilize techniques to determine validity, reliability, and statistical significance, even when analyzing multiple variables. These scientific polls are different than others because the WHOLE population has the chance to answer the survey.
When everyone in the population has the opportunity to answer the survey, it becomes a “representative” study and can be generalized to represent that whole population. This is unlike other polls that are conducted on social media or entertainment platforms. For example, when a radio or TV station asks listeners to call in to vote on a particular issue, the results are not representing the entire population, it is only representing the specific individuals that listen to that radio or TV station and were actually motivated to call in. In order to represent the entire population, the sample must be available to everyone; survey participants also must be chosen at random, there can be no bias when choosing the sample.
How One Can Use This Service
There are many ways that one can use Public Opinion Polls; the most popular use is when government elections come around. Many companies use public opinion polls to estimate the likelihood of one candidate winning over another. Whether it is for the primaries, local elections or an actual Presidential Election, it is a great tool to monitor the public.
Another great example is when it comes to “surveillance”. The current COVID-19 virus is spreading like wildfire across the country and individuals are being forced to stay at home. RICS has surveyed individuals to try and monitor the public’s health, perceptions, beliefs, etc. Click here to see the COVID-19 results.