Archive for the ‘public opinion’ Category

Evolution of music by public choice

August 15, 2012 Comments off

Evolution of music by public choice

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Music evolves as composers, performers, and consumers favor some musical variants over others. To investigate the role of consumer selection, we constructed a Darwinian music engine consisting of a population of short audio loops that sexually reproduce and mutate. This population evolved for 2,513 generations under the selective influence of 6,931 consumers who rated the loops’ aesthetic qualities. We found that the loops quickly evolved into music attributable, in part, to the evolution of aesthetically pleasing chords and rhythms. Later, however, evolution slowed. Applying the Price equation, a general description of evolutionary processes, we found that this stasis was mostly attributable to a decrease in the fidelity of transmission. Our experiment shows how cultural dynamics can be explained in terms of competing evolutionary forces.

Public Opinion on Sentencing and Corrections Policy in America

August 7, 2012 Comments off

Public Opinion on Sentencing and Corrections Policy in America (PDF)
Source: Pew Center on the States

Key Takeaways
1. American voters believe too many people are in prison and the nation spends too much on imprisonment.
2. Voters overwhelmingly support a variety of policy changes that shift non-violent offenders from prison to more effective, less expensive alternatives.
3. Support for sentencing and corrections reforms (including reduced prison terms) is strong across political parties, regions, age, gender, and racial/ethnic groups.

News Objectivity and Political Conversation: An Experimental Study of Mad Cow Disease and Candlelight Protest

July 27, 2012 Comments off

News Objectivity and Political Conversation: An Experimental Study of Mad Cow Disease and Candlelight Protest (PDF)

Source:  Development and Society

This study examines how journalistic objectivity in relation to interpersonal communication plays a role in democratic development driven by civic engagement. According to public journalists who candidly express their subjective opinions and contentious arguments in news reporting, the journalistic norm of objectivity has been blamed for causing public cynicism because it deteriorates civic participation. Focusing on the 2008 mad cow disease upheaval, an experiment was conducted to determine whether or not objective reporting actually inhibits political participation and whether or not a news article reinforcing a specific position promotes civic engagement in the candlelight protest. College students were recruited and given two types of news articles as experimental stimuli to measure their attitude towards political protest. The result indicates that the impact of news article types on the subjects’ intention to participate depends on their level of conversation with fellow citizens. For subjects who conversed frequently with others on the issue, the objective article enhanced their intention to participate in the protest. The reinforcing article enhanced participation among those who had a low level of conversation with fellow citizens. Therefore, this paper draws implications on the relationship between journalism and participatory democracy.

Successful Brands Care: The Case for Cause Marketing

July 23, 2012 Comments off

Successful Brands Care: The Case for Cause Marketing

Source:  Nielsen
As the call to action for community service and helping others becomes more vocal, it is apparent that many non-profit organizations would not be successful without the support of businesses and their brands. But is the benefit reciprocal? Nielsen conducted a global study in March trying to determine that very question. Does cause marketing—the use of social and environmental efforts to build a brand and increase profits—work? There is, the study found, certainly a segment of consumers who are socially conscious and do care.
Overall, 46 percent of global online consumers surveyed said they were willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that are giving back – though there’s a wide range of social consciousness across regions and demographics. Consumers in Asia Pacific are more likely to be “socially conscious consumers” for instance, and so are younger consumers (63 percent of the group is younger than 40).
The study also examined the causes that are important to this segment. From a list of 18 possible causes, the top three causes that consumers are most willing to support are ensuring environmental sustainability, eradicating poverty and hunger and improving STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) training and education.

Free registration required to download full report.

Generation X is surprisingly unconcerned about climate change

July 19, 2012 Comments off

Generation X is surprisingly unconcerned about climate change

Source: Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

As the nation suffers through a summer of record-shattering heat, a University of Michigan report finds that Generation X is lukewarm about climate change—uninformed about the causes and unconcerned about the potential dangers.

“Most Generation Xers are surprisingly disengaged, dismissive or doubtful about whether global climate change is happening and they don’t spend much time worrying about it,” said Jon D. Miller, author of “The Generation X Report.” (Read and download the full report.)

The new report, the fourth in a continuing series, compares Gen X attitudes about climate change in 2009 and 2011, and describes the levels of concern Gen Xers have about different aspects of climate change, as well as their sources of information on the subject.

“We found a small but statistically significant decline between 2009 and 2011 in the level of attention and concern Generation X adults expressed about climate change,” Miller said. “In 2009, about 22 percent said they followed the issue of climate change very or moderately closely. In 2011, only 16 percent said they did so.”

Partisans Agree: Presidential Election Will Be Exhaustin

July 5, 2012 Comments off

Partisans Agree: Presidential Election Will Be Exhausting

Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

Republicans and Democrats find little to agree on these days, but they have some similar reactions to the 2012 presidential campaign. Nearly identical percentages of Republicans and Democrats say the election will be exhausting. On the positive side, there also is widespread partisan agreement that the campaign will be informative.

The national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted June 7-17 among 2,013 adults, finds that just 49% expect the election to be exciting. Nearly six-in-ten Democrats (59%) say the election will be exciting, compared with 51% of Republicans and just 41% of independents.

The expectation that the election will be exhausting is in line with perceptions of the campaign so far. Most Americans say the campaign has been too long and dull (56% each), while 53% say it has been too negative. At the same time, an overwhelming majority (79%) views the presidential campaign as important.

Comparable percentages of Republicans, Democrats and independents say that the campaign has been too long and too negative. And more than eight-in-ten Republicans (85%) and Democrats (83%) say the campaign is important, as do 77% of independents.

Americans Upbeat About Local Economy, Down on the World

June 15, 2012 Comments off

Americans Upbeat About Local Economy, Down on the WorldSource: Gallup

Americans become progressively less positive about economic conditions the farther away from home they look. Forty-nine percent rate economic conditions in their local area as excellent or good, but that drops to 25% when rating the U.S. economy, and to 13% when assessing the world as a whole.

Global Opinion of Obama Slips, International Policies Faulted

June 13, 2012 Comments off

Global Opinion of Obama Slips, International Policies FaultedSource: Pew Global Attitudes Project

Global approval of President Barack Obama’s policies has declined significantly since he first took office, while overall confidence in him and attitudes toward the U.S. have slipped modestly as a consequence.

Europeans and Japanese remain largely confident in Obama, albeit somewhat less so than in 2009, while Muslim publics remain largely critical. A similar pattern characterizes overall ratings for the U.S. – in the EU and Japan, views are still positive, but the U.S. remains unpopular in nations such as Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, support for Obama has waned significantly in China. Since 2009, confidence in the American president has declined by 24 percentage points and approval of his policies has fallen 30 points. Mexicans have also soured on his policies, and many fewer express confidence in him today.

The Obama era has coincided with major changes in international perceptions of American power – especially U.S. economic power. The global financial crisis and the steady rise of China have led many to declare China the world’s economic leader, and this trend is especially strong among some of America’s major European allies. Today, solid majorities in Germany (62%), Britain (58%), France (57%) and Spain (57%) name China as the world’s top economic power.

Even though many think American economic clout is in relative decline, publics around the world continue to worry about how the U.S. uses its power – in particular its military power – in international affairs.

There remains a widespread perception that the U.S. acts unilaterally and does not consider the interests of other countries. In predominantly Muslim nations, American anti-terrorism efforts are still widely unpopular. And in nearly all countries, there is considerable opposition to a major component of the Obama administration’s anti-terrorism policy: drone strikes. In 17 of 20 countries, more than half disapprove of U.S. drone attacks targeting extremist leaders and groups in nations such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Americans are the clear outliers on this issue – 62% approve of the drone campaign, including most Republicans (74%), independents (60%) and Democrats (58%).

The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks

June 6, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Nature Climate Change

Seeming public apathy over climate change is often attributed to a deficit in comprehension. The public knows too little science, it is claimed, to understand the evidence or avoid being misled1. Widespread limits on technical reasoning aggravate the problem by forcing citizens to use unreliable cognitive heuristics to assess risk2. We conducted a study to test this account and found no support for it. Members of the public with the highest degrees of science literacy and technical reasoning capacity were not the most concerned about climate change. Rather, they were the ones among whom cultural polarization was greatest. This result suggests that public divisions over climate change stem not from the public’s incomprehension of science but from a distinctive conflict of interest: between the personal interest individuals have in forming beliefs in line with those held by others with whom they share close ties and the collective one they all share in making use of the best available science to promote common welfare.

Effects of the Recession on Public Mood in the UK

April 23, 2012 Comments off
Source:  International Workshop on Social Media Applications in News and Entertainment (SMANE)
Large scale analysis of social media content allows for real time discovery of macro-scale patterns in public opinion and sentiment. In this paper we analyse a collection of 484 million tweets generated by more than 9.8 million users from the United Kingdom over the past 31 months, a period marked by economic downturn and some social tensions. Our findings, besides corroborating our choice of method for the detection of public mood, also present intriguing patterns that can be explained in terms of events and social changes. On the one hand, the time series we obtain show that periodic events such as Christmas and Halloween evoke similar mood patterns every year. On the other hand, we see that a significant increase in negative mood indicators coincide with the announcement of the cuts to public spending by the government, and that this effect is still lasting. We also detect events such as the riots of summer 2011, as well as a possible calming effect coinciding with the run up to the royal wedding.

Survey — Chosen for What? Jewish Values in 2012

April 5, 2012 Comments off

Survey — Chosen for What? Jewish Values in 2012
Source: Public Religion Research Institute
From press release:

Jewish values, particularly pursuing justice and a commitment to social equality, are important for informing political beliefs and behaviors, a new national survey of American Jews finds.

The new survey of 1,004 American Jews, conducted by Public Religion Research Institute and released at a National Press Club briefing, is the most comprehensive, representative national study of its kind conducted by a non-Jewish research organization. The new survey takes a broad look at how Jewish values, experiences and identity are shaping political beliefs and behavior and influencing social action in the Jewish community and beyond.

More than eight-in-ten American Jews say that pursuing justice (84%) and caring for the widow and the orphan (80%) are somewhat or very important values that inform their political beliefs and activities. More than seven-in-ten say that tikkun olam (72%) and welcoming the stranger (72%) are important values. A majority (55%) say that seeing every person as made in the image of God is an important influence on their political beliefs and activities. Strong majorities of American Jews also cite the experience of the Holocaust, having opportunities for economic success in America, and the immigrant experience as important in shaping their political beliefs and activities.

When asked which qualities are most important to their Jewish identity, nearly half (46%) of American Jews cite a commitment to social equality, twice as many as cite support for Israel (20%) or religious observance (17%). About one-in-ten volunteered that a sense of cultural heritage and tradition (6%) or a general set of values (3%) are most important to their Jewish identity.

The Race for Campaign Site Visitors

March 21, 2012 Comments off

The Race for Campaign Site Visitors
Source: Nielsen

With the 2012 political season in full swing, Americans are flocking to the Internet for news surrounding the presidential candidates. So which candidate sites are drawing the most visitors? Nielsen profiled the voter-aged (18+) audience to the official campaign sites of the five presidential candidates to find out how their visitors lean.

American’s Views on the Supreme Court Case Mirror Their Views on the Health Reform Law; The Public Expects Parts Of The Affordable Care Act To Continue Whatever The Court Rules

March 21, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Kaiser Family Foundation
The requirement that nearly everyone obtain health insurance or pay a fine has long been Americans’ least favorite part of the health reform law, and their views on what the Supreme Court should do about that key provision, known as the “individual mandate,” mirror that sentiment, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll.
The poll finds that half of all Americans (51%) think the Court should rule the mandate unconstitutional and about the same number (53%) expect the justices to do so. Those views about what the Court should do reflect public opinion about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) more generally. Those who favor the law say two-to-one (50% to 26%) that the Court should uphold the mandate, and those who oppose the law say twelve-to-one (83% to 7%) that it should strike the mandate down. Americans have not yet tuned in to the high court case, with more than six in ten saying they are not following it closely. And many are confused — 42 percent either think the Court has overturned the law or do not know whether it has.
The public also does not see the mandate as the linchpin of the entire law. Sixty-two percent say other parts of the law still will be implemented if the Court rules the mandate unconstitutional, compared to 28 percent who say such a ruling will scuttle the whole effort. The poll also finds substantial public skepticism towards the Court; about as many people say the justices’ ideological views will play a major role in their decision (51%) as say their analysis and interpretation of the law (54%) will play a major role.
These and other findings of the March Kaiser Health Tracking Poll come just weeks before the Court is set to hear oral arguments in the legal challenges to the health reform law, which turns two years old on March 23rd and over which public opinion has been chronically divided. At the two year mark the public is almost perfectly split: 41 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of the law this month, while 40 percent hold an unfavorable one — not terribly different from the 46 percent who favored it and 40 percent who did not in April 2010. Opinions divide sharply along partisan lines, with Republicans disliking the law (75% have an unfavorable view this month), Democrats favoring it (66% favorable) and independents more divided (40% favorable vs. 42% unfavorable).

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll — March 2012

Federal Reserve survey provides information on mobile financial services

March 19, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Federal Reserve Board
One out of five American consumers used their mobile phone to access their bank account, credit card, or other financial account in the 12 months ending in January 2012 and an additional one out of five indicated they would likely use mobile banking at some point in the future, according to a Federal Reserve Board survey (2.5 MB PDF).
The survey’s findings suggest that the use of mobile banking is poised to expand further over the next year, with usage possibly increasing to one out of three mobile phone users by 2013. However, the survey indicates that many consumers remain skeptical of the benefit of mobile banking and the level of security associated with the technology.
The use of mobile banking is highly correlated with age, according to the survey results. People between 18 and 29 account for approximately 44 percent of mobile banking users, relative to 22 percent of all mobile phone users. Conversely, people age 60 and over account for only 6 percent of all mobile banking users, but 24 percent of mobile phone users. The survey showed a significantly higher level of mobile banking uptake among African Americans (16 percent) and Hispanics (17 percent), relative to 11 percent and 13 percent of mobile phone users, respectively.
The widespread use of mobile technology has the potential to expand access to financial services for previously underserved populations. Underbanked individuals (people with bank accounts but who use check cashers, payday lenders, or payroll cards) make relatively heavy use of mobile banking, according to the survey. Of this group, 29 percent used mobile banking in the year ending in January 2012.
The survey found that the most common mobile banking activities are consumers checking their account balances or monitoring recent transactions. Less frequently used mobile banking functions include making online bill payments from a bank account, locating an in-network automated teller machine, and depositing a check by phone.
The majority of consumers who have a mobile phone but do not use mobile banking said they either had no need for these services or expressed security concerns. When asked to rate the security of mobile banking, non-users were more likely to report that they believed it was unsecure or that they simply didn’t know how secure the technology was.

Consumers and Mobile Financial Services

FTC Issues Report on the Experiences of Victims Recovering from Identity Theft

March 15, 2012 Comments off

FTC Issues Report on the Experiences of Victims Recovering from Identity Theft
Source: Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission issued a staff report summarizing the results of a survey of identity theft victims who were asked to describe their experiences dealing with consumer reporting agencies and, more generally, exercising their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) as amended by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), to recover from identity theft. The survey showed that most of the respondents were generally satisfied with their experiences, but the report also noted areas for improvement..

According to the report, Using FACTA Remedies: An FTC Staff Report on a Survey of Experience of Identity Theft Victims, the survey showed:

  • Sixty-eight percent of the survey respondents were somewhat or very satisfied with their overall experiences with the consumer reporting agencies, but many consumers said it was difficult to reach a live person.
  • Less than half of the respondents were aware of most of their rights under FACTA before they contacted the consumer reporting agencies.
  • Some respondents complained about feeling pressured to buy additional identity theft monitoring products when they called the consumer reporting agencies.

The report concluded that:

  • The consumer reporting agencies may need to make it easier for consumers to reach a live person;
  • The FTC and other enforcement agencies should do more to educate the public about their rights under FACTA; and
  • The FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should use their respective authorities to address the consumer reporting agencies’ practices related to selling identity theft monitoring products or services when they are contacted by identity theft victims.

+ Full Report (PDF)

Public Knowledge About Polar Regions Increases While Concerns Remain Unchanged

February 9, 2012 Comments off

Public Knowledge About Polar Regions Increases While Concerns Remain Unchanged
Source: Carsey Institute (University of New Hampshire)

The authors of this brief conduct the first comparative analysis of the polar questions that were part of the National Opinion Research Center’s 2006 and 2010 General Social Survey. Developed by scientists at the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs, these questions covered topics such as climate change, melting ice and rising sea levels, and species extinction. The authors report that the public’s knowledge about the north and south polar regions significantly improved between 2006 and 2010–before and after the International Polar Year. In addition, respondents who know more about science in general, and polar facts specifically, tend to be more concerned about polar changes. More knowledgeable respondents also tend to favor reserving the Antarctic for science, rather than opening it for commercial development.

+ Full Document (PDF)

Study: U.S. Households Believe Current Retirement Saving Incentives Should Be Maintained

January 27, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Investment Company Institute
As U.S. policymakers consider tax policy and how to resolve federal budget deficits, more than eight in 10 U.S. households believe the current tax incentives to encourage retirement saving should be preserved, according to new research released today by the Investment Company Institute (ICI). The research is based on data collected in a survey of 3,000 U.S. households in November and December 2011.
The ICI study—America’s Commitment to Retirement Security: Investor Attitudes and Actions—found that such agreement was consistently high across various demographic and financial characteristics. Households were asked their views on changing the tax incentives for retirement plans and whether saving incentives for retirement should be a national priority. Specifically, the survey found:
Households overwhelmingly support maintaining the tax incentives for retirement saving. Eighty-five percent of all U.S. households disagreed when asked whether the tax advantages of DC accounts should be eliminated. Eighty-three percent opposed any reduction in workers’ account contribution limits. Among households owning defined contribution (DC) accounts or individual retirement accounts (IRAs), nearly nine in 10 disagreed with eliminating or reducing the tax incentives.
 A vast majority of households agree that preserving the current retirement savings incentives should be a national priority. Eighty-eight percent of households owning DC accounts or IRAs agree with this policy priority, while 76 percent of households without DC accounts or IRAs agree.
“It is clear that the current tax incentives to encourage Americans to build a nest egg in retirement accounts are effective and command the overwhelming support of the American public,” said Paul Schott Stevens, ICI president and CEO. “Our latest household survey shows that a great majority of U.S. households believe, even in an era of necessary federal budget reforms, that preserving these incentives should be a national priority.”
 + Full Report (PDF)

Perceptions of Crime, Engagement with the Police, Authorities Dealing with Anti-Social Behaviour and Community Payback: Findings From the 2010/11 British Crime Survey, Supplementary Volume 1 to Crime in England and Wales 2010/11

January 18, 2012 Comments off

Perceptions of Crime, Engagement with the Police, Authorities Dealing with Anti-Social Behaviour and Community Payback: Findings From the 2010/11 British Crime Survey, Supplementary Volume 1 to Crime in England and Wales 2010/11 (PDF)
Source: Home Office

This bulletin is the first in a series of supplementary volumes that accompany the main annual Home Office Statistical Bulletin, ‘Crime in England and Wales 2010/11’ (Chaplin et al., 2011). These supplementary volumes report on additional analysis not included in the main annual publication.

Figures included in this bulletin are from the British Crime Survey (BCS), a large, nationally representative, face-to-face victimisation survey in which people resident in households in England and Wales are asked about their experiences of crime in the 12 months prior to interview.

Since 2001/02 the BCS has run continuously with interviewing being carried out throughout the year. Until recently the BCS did not cover crimes against those aged under 16, but since January 2009 interviews have been carried out with children aged 10 to 15. BCS respondents are also asked about their attitudes towards different crime-related issues such as the police and criminal justice system, and about their perceptions of crime and anti-social behaviour. BCS figures in the main body of this report are limited to adults aged over 16 as in previous years, but experimental statistics for children are shown separately in Chapter 1. This bulletin presents findings from additional analyses based on the 2010/11 BCS on people’s contact and engagement with the police, their views of how the authorities in the local area are dealing with anti-social behaviour, their awareness and perceptions of Community Payback and their perceptions of crime.

Rising Share of Americans See Conflict Between Rich and Poor

January 12, 2012 Comments off

Rising Share of Americans See Conflict Between Rich and PoorSource: Pew Social & Demographic Trends

The Occupy Wall Street movement no longer occupies Wall Street, but the issue of class conflict has captured a growing share of the national consciousness. A new Pew Research Center survey of 2,048 adults finds that about two-thirds of the public (66%) believes there are “very strong” or “strong” conflicts between the rich and the poor—an increase of 19 percentage points since 2009.

Not only have perceptions of class conflict grown more prevalent; so, too, has the belief that these disputes are intense. According to the new survey, three-in-ten Americans (30%) say there are “very strong conflicts” between poor people and rich people. That is double the proportion that offered a similar view in July 2009 and the largest share expressing this opinion since the question was first asked in 1987.

As a result, in the public’s evaluations of divisions within American society, conflicts between rich and poor now rank ahead of three other potential sources of group tension—between immigrants and the native born; between blacks and whites; and between young and old. Back in 2009, more survey respondents said there were strong conflicts between immigrants and the native born than said the same about the rich and the poor.

2011 Traffic Safety Culture Index

January 5, 2012 Comments off

2011 Traffic Safety Culture Index (PDF)Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

In the quarter century from 1986 through 2010, the lives of 1,045,016 men, women, and children have ended violently as the result of motor vehicle crashes in the United States. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children, teens, and young adults up to age 34. 1 Statistics from the United States Department of Transportation indicate that 32,885 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2010. 2 Although this represents the fewest people killed in crashes in a single year since 1950, it also represents an average of 90 lives needlessly cut short on an average day as the result of crashes on our roads.

Since 2006, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has been sponsoring research to better understand traffic safety culture. 4-8 The Foundation’s long-term term vision is to create a “social climate in which traffic safety is highly valued and rigorously pursued.” 9 In 2008, the AAA Foundation conducted the first annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, 6 a nationally-representative telephone survey, to begin to assess a few key indicators of the degree to which traffic safety is valued and is being pursued.

As in previous years, this fourth annual Traffic Safety Culture Index finds that in some ways, Americans do appear to value safe travel and desire a greater level of safety than they now experience. For example, 70% of Americans say that the government should give more attention to making roads and highways safer, which is similar to the number that said the government should do more to increase the fuel economy of cars and take measures to reduce traffic congestion—issues that typically receive far more media attention and public debate than road safety.

On the other hand, this survey also highlights some aspects of the current traffic safety culture that might be characterized most appropriately as a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude that exists behind the wheel. For example, substantial numbers of drivers say that it is completely unacceptable to drive 10 mph over the speed limit on residential streets yet admit having done that in the past month.

This report presents the results of the AAA Foundation’s fourth annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, conducted from June 6 through June 28, 2011 by Knowledge Networks for the AAA Foundation with a sample of 3,147 U.S. residents ages 16 and older using a web-enabled probability-based panel that is representative of the United States population.


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