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In this section the International Journal of Public Opinion Research reviews in a very condensed manner articles which have recently been published in other journals and relate to the field of public opinion research. This section does not aim to give readers a comprehensive insight to particular studies, but rather to alert them to ideas and results that may be linked to their own work.

Monroe, Alan D.: `Public Opinion and Public Policy, 1980-1993', Public Opinion Quarterly, 62:1, 1998, pp. 6-28.

Using results of national surveys, the author compares public opinion with actual policy outcomes on over 500 issues from 1980 through 1993. Overall, he finds policy outcomes being consistent with the preferences of public majorities on 55 percent of the cases. From all substantive policy topic categories analysed, foreign policy decisions tended to be among the most consistent (67 percent). A key reason for policy not being more consistent with public opinion is seen in an increasing inherent bias against change in the US political process. Although not entirely clear, the reasons for this bias may be rooted in divided control of government combined with increased ideological conflict, the author argues. When issues were categorized in terms of their salience to the public, it appeared that opinion/policy consistency was greater (and bias against change less) on those issues of highest public salience.

Seaver, Brenda M.: `The Public Dimension of Foreign Policy', Press/Politics, 3:1, 1998, pp. 65-91.

This article attempts to explain the relationship between the mass media, public opinion, and US foreign policy in order to understand the complex nature of the public's impact on the US foreign policy-making process. It unites the distinct literatures that explore the impact of the mass media on public opinion and the public opinion-foreign policy linkage. Theories and research are classified according to the particular `flow of influence' among the three variables.

Isaacs, Maxine: `Two Different Worlds: The Relationship Between Elite and Mass Opinion on American Foreign Policy', Political Communication, 15:3, 1998, pp. 323-345.

In this article elite opinion (voiced in the media and measured through content analysis) and public opinion (measured in public opinion surveys) are compared for the two cases of the Chinese massacre at Tinanmen Square in June 1989 and the coup against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991 in order to test the theories that the elites lead public opinion about American foreign policy. In neither case could the dependence of mass opinion on elite opinion be demonstrated.

Sobel, Richard: `Portraying American Public Opinion toward the Bosnia Crisis', Press/Politics, 3:2, 1998, pp. 16-33.

This article explores the disparity between the comparatively supportive public attitudes on humanitarian aid and multilateral intervention in polls about Bosnia and the limited reporting of those opinions in US media and political discussions. It is hypothesized that the press did not fully portray evidence of support because of the post-Vietnam syndrome, the intensity of the opposition, the media's tendency to `frame' stories in simplified ways, and indexing to political positions against intervention.

Salwen, Michael B.: `Perceptions of Media Influence and Support for Censorship. The Third-Person Effect in the 1996 Presidential Election', Communication Research, 25:3, 1998, pp. 259-285.

This study, based on a nationwide telephone survey with 549 respondents, investigates perceptions of media influence and support for campaign message restrictions during the 1996 presidential campaign. Theoretically grounded in the third-person effect approach, the study confirms the perceptual component hypothesis for individuals to perceive greater media influence on people other than themselves. The results also confirm the behavioral component hypothesis for third-person perception to lead to support for restrictions on election messages.

Valkenburg Patti M. and Patiwael, Marquerite: `Does Watching Court TV `Cultivate' People's Perceptions of Crime?', Gazette 60:3, 1998, pp. 227-238.

The authors aim to determine people's motives for watching Court TV and whether this is related to their perceptions of crime. Using a Court TV viewing motives scale in a survey in the vicinities of Boston and New York, five motives for watching Court TV were identified: voyeurism, boredom-avoidance, entertainment, relaxation, and information. The results show the entertainment motive being the most prominent viewing motive of Court TV, followed by the boredom-avoidance and voyeurism motives. Respondents who more often watched Court TV tended to have more negative perceptions of crime in society. However, people who watched Court TV for its informative value in particular showed more negative perceptions of crime.

Zuckerman, Alan S., Kotler-Berkowitz, Laurence A. and Swaine, Lucas A.: `Anchoring political preferences: The structural bases of stable electoral decisions and political attitudes in Britain', European Journal of Political Research, 33:3, 1998, pp. 285-321.

Examining two British surveys, the 1987 cross-section of the electorate and a panel survey that covers the 1983 and 1987 elections, the authors explore the bases of persistent voting for the same party, location on left-right scales, and the probability of holding the same policy views on a host of different issues over time. By controlling alternative explanations such as party identification, level of education, age, interest in politics, the effects of the structural variables discussion networks, patterns of interactions with members of political parties, social class networks, and location in the social structure are tested and discussed.

Haddock, Geoffrey and Zanna, Mark P.: `On the use of open-ended measures to assess attitudinal components', British Journal of Social Psychology, 37:2, 1998, pp. 129-149.

After defining the attitude concept and outlining the open-ended free-response measures, the authors describe the results of various studies that have utilized this response format to assess the cognitive, affective, and behavioral components of attitude. Each study discussed also indicates how the use of open-ended measures allowed the researchers to obtain information about the specific, idiosyncratic responses any given individual associates with an attitude object and led to the generation of research questions that might not otherwise have been possible.

Bosman, Jan, Vettehen, Paul Hendriks, van Snippenburg, Leo: `On the Use of Scales in Communication Research: The Reliability of Scales and their Relation to other Concepts', Communications, 23:2, 1998, pp. 219-226.

An important reason for the use of scales to measure theoretical concepts can be shown by the fact that single item measurements contain random error that is at least partially eliminated when items are combined in scales. Although scales yield higher correlations with other relevant theoretical concepts it does not follow, the authors argue, that reliable scales provide higher correlations with other concepts than unreliable scales of equal length. On the contrary, as is shown in this article, to the extent that scales are unreliable they improve correlations with other variables.
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Author:Lamp, Erich
Publication:International Journal of Public Opinion Research
Date:Dec 22, 1998
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