The usefulness of the various public polls can be assessed from various viewpoints. One can be the viewpoint of the client or user of the results coming from such surveys. The utility of the polls from their viewpoint is defined primarily by the potential use of such survey results for making decisions and obtaining information that is new or not obvious. The utility of public polls can also be examined from the viewpoint of the respondents whose views and attitudes are being researched. This viewpoint is no less important because it is directly connected with the willingness of the addressed individuals to participate in the surveys. If the interviewees are convinced that the survey is useful, the likelihood of their participation in the survey is greater, or if the interviewees are not convinced that the survey is useful they could refuse to take part in it. Considering the importance of the interviewees’ rating of survey usefulness, one of the objectives of the poll was to determine how the general public perceives the usefulness of the public polls undertaken.
The Institute for Evaluations and Social Analyses (INESAN) conducted the survey in April 2012, completing 1,013 valid interviews with persons aged 18–64. The sample was selected to ensure that the results obtained are representative of the opinions and attitudes of adult Czech citizens.
The results indicate that more than one half of the general public (52 %) consider the results of public polls to be useful for the public. In this respect, the utility stems from the fact that normal people can confront their own attitudes with the results of such polls. Still, it is apparent that an even greater part of the interviewees are convinced that the poll results are useful for the country’s leaders. In this respect, it is fitting to point out another insight obtained in the survey, which is that 58 % of the respondents believe that public polls are done for the authorities to get to know people’s problems. In this respect, the utility of survey results is apparent in the sense of support for decision-making processes and setting up specific programmes or policies.
Graph: Rating of utility of public poll results
The greatest part of the interviewees believe that the results of surveys best serve scholars who study social developments. Differences based on socio-demographic characteristics are not important in this case except for gender; women are more convinced than men (81 % v. 76 %) that public poll results are useful for scholars. Other results indicate in this context that 85 % of the interviewees agree that public polls enable normal people to express their opinion while 79 % consider public polls an obvious way how citizens can communicate their feelings and needs. In this respect, the utility of surveys is found to be on a cognitive level.
The results indicate that a total of 85 % of the interviewees identified at least one entity for which the results of public polls are useful. It therefore appears that a significant part of the public is convinced that the results of public polls are useful. Half of the respondents associate the usefulness with their own needs or interests and an even greater percentage believe that the poll results are useful for the country’s leaders and scholars.