"How Public Opinion Really Works"

Essay by chrismaricleHigh School, 10th gradeA, March 2005

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"How Public Opinion Really Works"

In "How Public Opinion Really Works", Daniel Yankelovich provides his opinion about the true workings and shifting of the poll numbers. He feels that, in reality, many polls are false, taking the temperature of the people long before an adequate reading can be made. There are supposedly seven stages to this more "biological process" of forming public opinion; each important in coming to a well thought out public judgement.

Yankelovich first explains that public opinion develops over a long period of time for any issue. In early stages, the opinions are flip-flopping, strong at some points without backup. Leaders that act on these feelings may often find that their support will quickly fade. In contrast, the later stages in the game include solid and consistent public opinions. One example of a consistent view, he feels, is the isolationism v. internationalism debate. It has gone through the seven stages and people aren't quite ready yet to go back to a pre-World War II U.S.

Citing current events, this attitude of the need of America to participate in world issues should be now rock hard.

The Seven Stages of public opinion; it tends to make so complicated an entity into a simple hopscotch game. Yankelovich explains them through the perspective of the health care forum. Stage 1 he calls "Dawning Awareness". This is where people first discover an issue that has importance to their lives. With health care, many of the public became aware of the rising costs and the fact that millions were without health insurance. The public turns its blame to the ever-indispensable figure of greed instead of the more specific causes like advances in technology.

Stage 2 is "Greater Urgency". This is the best way, through fear, to get people to face an...