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      Mass Political Attitudes and the Survey Response

      American Political Science Review

      JSTOR

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          Abstract

          Students of public opinion research have argued that voters show very little consistency and structure in their political attitudes. A model of the survey response is proposed which takes account of the vagueness in opinion survey questions and in response categories. When estimates are made of this vagueness or “measurement error” and the estimates applied to the principal previous study, nearly all the inconsistency is shown to be the result of the vagueness of the questions rather than of any failure by the respondents.

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          Most cited references 15

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          The theory of decision making.

           Ward Edwards (1954)
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            Consensus and Ideology in American Politics

            The belief that consensus is a prerequisite of democracy has, since deTocqueville, so often been taken for granted that it is refreshing to find the notion now being challenged. Prothro and Grigg, for example, have questioned whether agreement on “fundamentals” actually exists among the electorate, and have furnished data which indicate that it may not. Dahl, reviewing his study of community decision-makers, has inferred that political stability does not depend upon widespread belief in the superiority of democratic norms and procedures, but only upon theiracceptance. From the findings turned up by Stouffer, and by Prothro and Grigg, he further conjectures that agreement on democratic norms is greater among the politically active and aware—the “political stratum” as he calls them—than among the voters in general. V. O. Key, going a step further, suggests that the viability of a democracy may depend less upon popular opinion than upon the activities and values of an “aristocratic” strain whose members are set off from the mass by their political influence, their attention to public affairs, and their active role as society's policy makers. “If so, any assessment of the vitality of a democratic system should rest on an examination of the outlook, the sense of purpose, and the beliefs of this sector of society.”
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              Behavioral decision theory.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                applab
                American Political Science Review
                Am Polit Sci Rev
                JSTOR
                0003-0554
                1537-5943
                December 1975
                August 2014
                : 69
                : 04
                : 1218-1231
                Article
                10.2307/1955282
                © 1975

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