"How Public Opinion Really Works" Essay

968 words - 4 pages

"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 issue. The recession scared people about job security and their ability to pay medical bills if they were to become sick. The majority of Americans now feel panic in the form of wanting something to be done.Stage 3 includes "Discovering the Choices". The public begins to explore choices for dealing with the issue. It converts concern "about the need to do something into proposals for action." Health care personifies it well because new ideas of dealing with ti came out everyday, but few knew about them.Stage 4 is "Wishful Thinking". The public doesn't want to face reality and the tradeoffs that are needed to solve any issue. Not feeling connected with the decision-making process affecting them; they erect the wishful thinking barrier. People are urgent about the health care, but not willing now to face the hard truths.Stage 5, called "Weighing the Choices", is where the public does come to grip with them. These have to be reconciled with deeply held values and ethics to finally making a decision....

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