Date of this Version
The editors of this book are Willem E. Saris, professor of political science at the University of Amsterdam and teacher at the ESADE business school of Universitat Ramon Llull, Barcelona, and Paul M. Sniderman, Fairleigh S. Dickinson Jr. Professor of Public Policy and professor of political science at Stanford University. In Studies in Public Opinion: Attitudes, Nonattitudes, Measurement Error, and Change, they have brought together a collection of research that deals with the problems that consistently seem to plague public opinion research. The book, which is accessible to those with a keen interest in, and understanding of, public opinion research, is designed to examine the problems of “nonattitudes” and the role of political sophistication, as well as the ways in which the task environment affects the behavior of respondents.
Part 1, “A Synoptic Perspective,” lays the groundwork for a view of public opinion that is dependent upon both political sophistication and the task environment. Van der Veld and Saris counter the argument of Phillip Converse—who says that nonattitudes are widespread among average citizens—by putting forth a theory of public opinion that shows citizens with some stable attitudes, attitudes that are variable in different task environments and different situations. By recognizing the effects of the task environment, the authors provide a break from “classical” notions of public opinion.