The media publishes many articles based on the results of various surveys. In this respect, there is a question to what extent the public is interested in this type of news. Summarised information about the opinions and attitudes of other citizens is attractive and often practically usable feedback allowing one to confront their views with those of others. In this respect, it is obvious that the supply of this type of information exists; this is illustrated by the multitude of published articles that refer to and quote the specific insights obtained from the results of public polls or marketing surveys. The question is, what demand is there for this type of information? Is the general public interested in research results? Does the public pay any attention to such information at all?
The Institute for Evaluations and Social Analyses (INESAN) conducted a survey in April 2013 focused on analysing the rate of interest of Czech citizens in the results of public polls. A total of 1,013 interviews were conducted with people aged 18–64. The sample was designed to ensure that the results obtained are representative of the opinions and attitudes of adult Czech citizens. The replies indicate that survey results are of interest to approximately two-thirds of the interviewees. The rate of the respondents who are highly interested in poll results is approximately double the rate of the interviewees who are not interested in this type of information at all (20% versus 9%).
A detailed analysis shows that interest in public poll results grows with the degree of education, which is connected with the generally higher demand for information among individuals with higher education. The specific insights show, however, that a relatively high percentage – 54% – of even people with the lowest indication are interested in poll results. The demand is even higher between people with vocational and secondary education, and among university graduates, three-quarters of the interviewees are interested in research results. Aside from socio-demographic characteristics, the interest in poll results is further differentiated depending on the involvement in social life. In this respect, it is apparent that people who are actively involved in social life (e.g., by participating in public gatherings or voting on local affairs) are more interested in survey results than other citizens who are less socially active. More than three-quarters of socially active citizens claim they are interested in poll results, as opposed to 56% of other citizens. The insights obtained do not allow us to differentiate the respondents where the greater demand for information is caused by their social activity from the individuals who became more socially active as a result of obtaining information. The members of the first group use the results of public polls for making their own decisions regarding their social activity or for correcting their own involvement. In the other group, the published results of a poll spurred its members to be more socially active.
Graph: Respondents’ interest in public poll results
The results that INESAN obtained as part of its research allow us to infer that the majority of the Czech population is currently not over-saturated with the results of public polls published in the media. It is also necessary to point out that the general interest in – or rather tendency to follow – this type of news is also determined by the specific type of information and relevant content, along with the prerequisites for being able to use this type of information on the respondent’s part (the highest achieved education, opinion leadership, and usability of the information stemming from the respondent’s activity).