The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion / Edition 1

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Overview

A comprehensive theory to explain how people acquire political information from the mass media and convert it into political preferences is developed and applied to the dynamics of public opinion on a broad range of subjects.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...this is an impressive and important book with broad implications." Communication Theory

"John Zaller's volume makes sense of a diverse interdisciplinary body of work...He manages to deal in depth with most of the relevant work currently going on in political science, psychology, and sociology, and courageously wrestles with hard questions and faces up to conflicting findings." William J McGuire, Yale University

"Zaller's volume is a giant step forward in the development of a systematic understanding of the dynamics of public opinion. This is a splendid contribution." Philip E. Converse, Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences

"John Zaller has produced a truly wonderful book. It is, first, a model of what social science can be at its finest. The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion reshapes the field in ways that will reverberate throughout the study of public opinion, elections, and the relationship between elites and the mass public for decades." John Aldrich, Duke University

"Zaller's book is the most significant contribution to the scientific study of public opinion in almost three decades. It reflects vast knowledge, deep insight, and exemplary craftsmanship, weaving together theory and data, mass and elite, and psychology and politics with remarkable elegance and authority." Larry M. Bartels, Princeton University

"John Zaller has written the single most important book on public opinion since V. O. Key's 1961 classic, Public Opinion and American Democracy....Zaller offers a well-developed theory, supported by considerable data and methodological sensitivity. Overall, the book is well written and clearly organized, and it provides social scientists with the clearest model to date that explains both the nature and origins of mass opinion." Henry C. Kenski, Contemporary Sociology

"...a simple but elegant deductive model of the process by which individuals answer questions about public opinion... Zaller has written a classic." Journal of Politics

"...the style and focus of this research program is strikingly different from the norm of public opinion studies...This is perhaps the best book ever written about public opinion. It starts with elegant encompassing theory and goes on to make sense of everything we know, including numbers of stray -thought-to-be-unrelated -findings that all blend together into a coherent whole." James Stimson, American Political Science Review

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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of tables and figures
Preface
1 Introduction: The fragmented state of opinion research 1
2 Information, predispositions, and opinion 6
3 How citizens acquire information and convert it into public opinion 40
4 Coming to terms with response instability 53
5 Making it up as you go along 76
6 The mainstream and polarization effects 97
7 Basic processes of "attitude change" 118
8 Tests of the one-message model 151
9 Two-sided information flows 185
10 Information flow and electoral choice 216
11 Evaluating the model and looking toward future research 265
12 Epilogue: The question of elite domination of public opinion 310
Measures appendix 333
References 347
Index 359
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