Polling is a method used to study the opinions, attitudes, or behavior of individuals. Polling allows analysts to collect primary information based on direct (conversation, interview) or indirect (questionnaire) socio-psychological interaction between the researcher and the interviewee. The source of information, in this case, is a person’s verbal or written judgment.
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The widespread use of this method is explained by its strengths, such as versatility, comparative ease of application, and data processing. In a short time, the researcher can get information about the respondent’s real activities, actions, information about their moods, intentions, and assessments of the surrounding reality. Moreover, polling helps to establish a high standardization level when all respondents are asked the same questions with the same answer options. This allows researchers to interview many respondents in a short time and get massive amounts of information.
The weakness of polling is the subjectivity of the information received. Polls are based on subjective responses, and the information received reflects the words of people passed through the prism of their consciousness rather than real actions. Any survey is based on verbal communication between the researcher and the respondent; thus, the information received is distorted many times: when the question is formulated, at the time of its perception by the respondent, when the answer is developed, the response is perceived and interpreted by the analyst.
I would not say that I do not trust polls entirely; however, I can question the approach and data processes used when interviewing people. There are numerous options to manipulate the data and ask specific questions that would narrow down interviewees’ responses to present gathered information in a way the researcher would like it to be claimed. We can see such examples in election polls when analysts underestimated Trump’s rating that led to his victory in the President’s elections (Cohn, 2020). Therefore, polls should be carefully conducted and assessed when other people use or trust them.
Cohn, N. (2020). What went wrong with polling? Some early theories. The New York Times. Web.