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Do Polls Influence Opinions? Investigating Poll Feedback Loops Using the Novel Dynamic Response Feedback Experimental Procedure

Journal article
Authors S. Arnesen
M. P. Johannesson
J. Linde
Stefan Dahlberg
Published in Social Science Computer Review
Volume 36
Issue 6
Pages 735-743
ISSN 0894-4393
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 735-743
Language en
Keywords public opinion, feedback loop, survey experiment, dynamic response feedback, initial conditions, public-opinion, bandwagon, Computer Science, Information Science & Library Science, Social Sciences, - Other Topics
Subject categories Political Science


Opinion polls may inadvertently affect public opinion, as people may change their attitudes after learning what others think. A disconcerting possibility is that opinion polls have the ability to create information cascades, wherein the majority opinion becomes increasingly larger over time. Testing poll influence on attitudes toward Syrian refugees and mandatory measles vaccination, we field survey experiments on a probability-based online survey panel. Through a novel automated procedure labeled the dynamic response feedback, we measure whether the answers from early poll respondents can influence the opinions of subsequent respondents who learn the answers of the previous respondents. Using this procedure, no feedback loops are identified.

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