Social Psychology: An Analysis of Social Behavior

Chapter 24: Public Opinion

Kimball Young

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A. The Background of Public Opinion.

1. The Public and the Crowd.-We may describe the public as a more or less amorphous group not conjoined in space. It corresponds to what Bentley called the assemblage. While the crowd depends on physical contiguity, the public does not. A public is held together by other than face-to-face communication. Its social meaning rests in the fact that a scattered group of people may think and act in a similar or even identical manner. The crowd is a shoulder-to-shoulder relationship, with a common focus. The unity of a public rests upon an indirect psychological relationship to a common center. We can belong to only one crowd at a time; but we may belong to several publics at the same time, each public having some particular interest. As we use it, the term "public" refers not to one great mass of persons living in a community, a state, or a nation, but rather to various groups in secondary contact. The notion that the word "public" applies to the general and more or less total population arose, doubtless, from the fact that much of the treatment of public opinion has come from political scientists, who are most interested in the political aspects of community life. While the term public opinion may be so narrowly defined as to cover only opinions about political issues, we shall use it here in a broader sense. The "public" does not apply merely to that part of the population which is concerned with political problems. We use it to indicate various interest groups, especially those marked by the secondary group characteristics. Therefore we should speak of publics rather than of a public. There is a political public, a financial public, an art public, and so on throughout the whole range of modern interests and activities. When we study the newspaper and periodical as reflectors or makers of public opinion, we discover that they treat not only politics, but all phases of contemporary life.

The opinions of these various publics are usually expressed in more or

(571) less open manner through the press, pulpit and forum, and more intimately through conversation. We shall discuss the psychological character of opinion in a subsequent section. We may say here, however, that it is essentially this talking about affairs of common concern that constitutes public opinion. In other words, it has a distinctly social rather than a private or personal significance. The objects of public opinion are felt to concern all members of the various groups.

2. Ecology of Public Opinion.-In the earlier village and primary group organization of society, public opinion depended upon factors distinctly different from those on which it depends today. While certain aspects of the process remain the same, in present-day public opinion new factors intrude themselves

a. Village and Rural District.-The village and town life which characterized our American life down to the last quarter of the nineteenth century was very largely the outgrowth of the culture typified in the towns of New England and the northern colonial area. We find in these communities a primary group organization not unlike that of village life in Europe during the previous two thousand years. Before modern means of communication, while these villages were relatively isolated, nevertheless their life and culture were fairly homogeneous. Except for Teutonic and Scandinavian immigration into the rural areas west of the Great Lakes, the immigrant tide affected more particularly our large cities. Social control in the villages rested in mores common to the Protestant-American type, principally with puritan backgrounds.

The development of public opinion in any crisis depended upon gossip and conversation over the back fence, in the village store and post-office, in the church and neighborhood gathering, and in the village assembly. The elders of the group, that is, the older and more prominent men of these communities, no doubt crystallized and gave direction to the common currents of opinion running through the village. On the whole, life was not very complex, and the range of activity was not very wide. The major crises involved infractions of the moral code and the common political interests of taxation, roads, education and public institutions. It some crisis arose, such as the burning of a neighbor's barn, the development of a bad mudhole in the county highway, or the overcrowding of a school building, the inhabitants did not have much difficulty in discovering the fundamental facts. On the basis of these facts, through conversation and

(572) personal associative thinking, a consensus of opinion about the situation could easily form. From this consensus of opinion a common course of action might be promptly determined. If the village school teacher did not live up to the folkways of the town, she was sure to feel ridicule and censure of a mild sort. This gossip usually was sufficient to bring her into conformity with the village standards. The gossips might exert sufficient pressure on violators of the moral codes to drive them out of the village. Thus, if the teacher's conduct were too divergent, she might, and usually did, lose her position, being replaced-by someone more satisfactory. Sometimes a whole community might mobilize to control the actions of a recalcitrant member. If the tax rates were to be raised, the citizens had opinions and exchanged them with others in terms of their wishes for civic improvements and a realization of added financial burden. However, life in the town or village was conservative and public opinion was decidedly narrow. Even today rural communities oppose consolidation of school districts, refuse to increase taxation for local improvements, and exhibit a great indifference to the larger political issues.

While American villages felt themselves to be a part of the larger political state and nation, their information about politics depended on the weekly newspaper and on occasional campaign speeches. In times of agricultural crises considerable public opinion arose. This is illustrated in the rise of the Populist movement and the Grange. Yet, for the most part, political public opinion concerned itself with the details of village life.

Public opinion of special interest groups was confined very largely to matters of religion. A village might have a half-dozen rival Protestant sects, each with its own membership and each developing certain opinions on affairs of common concern. In spite of differences in dogma and faith, these sects all held fast to certain fundamental moral codes, so that the mores affecting such things as sex conduct, Sunday observance, dancing, card-playing, horse-racing and gambling, and the general scheme of honesty and fair dealing were only superficially in dispute. The result was that little public opinion was generated on these attitudes. Since they were fully accepted in the mores and folkways, they were not subjects for talk and discussion.

In general, American towns and villages were essentially alike as regards mores and folkways. Questions to be decided by group opinion were settled in a direct, face-to-face manner. In the larger issues of state and

( 573) nation the older Puritan-American political-religious standpoint persisted. Because of this body of fundamentals the country at large was fairly homogeneous in spite of the relative isolation of communities.

b. Urban District.-With the increase of population, with specialization in industry and the whole growth of modern business, the simple village social organization has broken down. Rapid transportation and communication, especially within the present century, have practically destroyed the provincialism of the village. This has made possible the astounding increase in city populations. While at the outset our cities were largely overgrown American villages controlled by primary group mores and folkways, the last half-century has witnessed great changes. The coming into our cities of large numbers of immigrants of divergent cultural backgrounds, especially peoples of southern and eastern Europe, has introduced new points of view and new ways of living. This has produced a heterogeneity of subracial type as well as a mixture of cultures. Even without these forces, urbanization would have produced distinct changes in our modes of living.

The increasing importance in our life of secondary groups, dependent, as they are, on voluntary and only partially personal interests, is another phase of the situation. Man is no longer tied to the family and neighborhood by geographical location, nor is he limited in the scope of his occupational choice, his political or church affiliations, his marital adventures or his recreational activities. In short, mobility and increased division of labor and the attendant expansion of the capitalistic economic order have produced remarkable alterations in our attitudes and habits. While in its emphasis upon the utilitarian virtues of thrift, economy, good works, temperance, and the repression of natural tendencies, there is much in capitalism which harmonizes with the Protestant and Puritan social-religious order, certain conflicts have arisen out of the expansion of our economic life. Our mores are in a state of flux. Our codes are no longer standardized; that is to say, they are no longer generally accepted by all of us. Where once we took for granted many details in the codes, now we discuss them. A kind of experimentation in new forms of social behavior is going on all abut us.

The stimulus and scope of public opinion have changed. First of all, there is an enormous extension of the range of excitation. Urban life produces a wide variety of situations unknown to village life; it is more mobile, more flexible, more complex. Our economic, social, and political

( 574) relations have a wider reach. The range of our gossip is greater. Nevertheless we can not in person cover the entire area of interest. We depend on indirect and secondary sources of information and interpretation, and our facts and inferences are changed by the minds of those who bring them to us. The newspaper has long been an important medium of communication. Recently the motion picture and the radio have become important. This means, then, that the sources of news are not the same in the city as in the village, and that the psychological effects are different. Public opinion is of a more inferential, imaginative character than it was in the primary group. Public opinion today is increasingly like crowd behavior and less like that of the more stabilized primary life of the neighborhood and village.

Opinions can not be discussed and spread over wide areas by means of mere face-to-face talk alone. While in the small neighborhood or village, opinion was made by face-to-face gossip and discussion, today it reaches out to secondary groups and is dependent on rapid communication. It is brought to most of us through organized means of expression such as radio stations, newspapers, periodicals, and books. A good deal has been made of the importance of these organs in forming opinion. Yet while they furnish us with the basis of our opinions about things not immediately before us physically, even today public opinion is dependent, in part, on gossip and conversation in a face-to-face manner. In some aspects, therefore, contemporary public opinion is made by non-contiguous secondary groups, but for its completion it requires something of face-to-face relationships.

Gossip and discussion are organizing as well as disorganizing forces in the community and lead ultimately to a form of action. In other words, out of this opinion-making arises a definition of any particular situation. It is in this manner that definitions of situations become a part of the mores and later may even form the basis of our legal regulations.

B. Psychology of Public Opinion.

1. Theories of Public Opinion -- We may well trace very briefly certain theories of public opinion. They will serve as an introduction to our analysis of behavior trends in this collective activity.

The oldest and still most commonly accepted notion rests upon the thesis that man is a rational being whose opinions are formed from cool

(575) and deliberate reason applied to any problem in hand. Ellwood among others holds this view. He says that public opinion is a "more or less rational group judgment" and is to be sharply distinguished from public emotion and sentiment. To be thus rational, Ellwood says further that public opinion must be "formed under conditions of disinterestedness." This view goes back fundamentally to the eighteenth and early nineteenth century doctrine of the rational man. Upon this theory we may predicate a deliberate, sane social control. This dogma has become a stereotype in political circles. Recently a nationally known political speaker referred to the "infallible common sense" of the public to justify their actions in an election.

A second thesis is that public opinion is really minority opinion foisted upon the masses by the wiles of minority leaders. This theory implies that the masses are controlled by the sentiments and emotions of the few, who use popular stereotypes to gain their own concealed ends.

Associated with this view is the notion that public opinion, while not uninfluenced by minorities, arises out of the currents of feeling and emotion about serious problems which run through the various publics. That is to say, opinion develops in crises, but always in terms of attitudes and sentiments largely emotional rather than intellectual. If leaders do anything, they simply crystallize these attitudes and sentiments and restate them in intellectually acceptable formulas. The masses accept these formulas as their own. They seem sound reasons for their beliefs, attitudes, and actions.

There are, then, really two divergent views on the nature and make-up of public opinion. The one view rests upon the thesis of the individualism and rationalism of man, the other upon a more collectivistic theory of behavior and the doctrine that man is guided by his emotional attitudes and sentiments rather than by his cold intellectual considerations. This view definitely challenges the idea that public opinion could ever arise out of "conditions of disinterestedness." Opinion can become widespread only when groups of people are vitally concerned with issues.

2. Psychological Foundations of Public Opinion.

a. Group Life and Public Opinion.-The non-contiguous group so prominent in the public opinion of today produces a different sort of social interaction than does the crowd or primary group. In the crowd we are

(576) directly under the influence of perceptual stimuli. We hear, see, smell, and touch the reality around us. If we live in a village and hear news about some interesting event, if we wish we may verify the news by going to the place to see and hear for ourselves. The appeal to the individual is direct and personally verifiable. Group opinion here is made by discussion and gossip, and finally a consensus of opinion is precipitated. Sometimes, especially in a crisis, opinion arises out of crowd action and thinking. In the non-contiguous public fostered by modern life this direct and personal contact with events and situations is, for the most part, lost. The bulk of facts are brought to us by the organized gossip of newspapers and periodicals. Much news comes from areas unreachable by the ordinary man. He is removed by distance and time from the actuality of which he reads or hears. He is definitely limited in the amount of personal verification he can make. Interposed between him and the actual event is the mechanism of communication. The area of communication is psychologically one of secondary and tertiary testimony, of imagination and of inference. We have already noted the way in which the testimony of witnesses distorts the observed event or situation. Not only are the various original witnesses unreliable, but further communication of the testimony produces additional distortions. Finally, in the selection and presentation of news, tertiary changes are consciously and unconsciously made. Thus the very material of public opinion is colored by imagination and inference. Furthermore, the reaction of the individual to the public as a group is slightly different from his reaction to the crowd. Here imagination and inference play a larger rôle in the participant himself.

In the contiguous group, whether crowd or not, we have the sense of "we belong," of "we believe." In a kind of collective way we identify ourselves with the group. We have a feeling of direct membership based on perceptual experience. The main object of our thought is -the group as a unit. In contrast, the polarization of the individual toward the public is often characterized at the outset by the phrase "I belong." The mass is at the oilier pole of the relationship. In the one case the see, hear and feel the mass around us and by participation or identification and by social projection we lose ourselves, as it were, in the crowd. In the non-contiguous public we are often much less active. We have to infer the mass. Our egocentric trends become more dominant because our participation is controlled by inference and imagination. The phrases "I approve;" "I am

( 577) ridiculed," "I agree with the idea" illustrate the covert verbal expression of much of our participation in the public. Man's relation to his public is more passive than to a crowd and yet, in a sense, more individualistic. Through imagination and inference, largely unconscious, built up by communication and by the existence of common attitudes, ideas, and habits, a feeling of social unity arises, a feeling of universality about our public that produces some of the same sense of participation which we get in the actual crowd. Allport describes this as the "impression of universality." Because we respond in a certain way to a speaker, a news story, a magazine article, we imagine that others are responding in like manner. Because of common personal-social and cultural conditioning, as well as because of common biological structure, our response systems are in fact much like those of others. Furthermore, newspapers help construct this inference by such phrases as "It is said," "It is the common belief," "It is the consensus of opinion here." Moreover the public is, in many respects, an imagined crowd, and much that appears in the organs of public opinion resembles the material which passes current in crowds. Especially is this true in a time of intense crisis. It is this fact which compels us to treat public opinion as a counterpart of crowd phenomena.

b. Opinions and Attitudes.-Opinion is ordinarily defined as judgment, based on grounds insufficient to produce certainty. It is in nature a provisional conviction, a view held as probable. Public opinion, then, is the beliefs of people about things which concern them as members of various primary and secondary groups. The mores and folkways-more specifically questions of honesty, sexual conduct, manners, fads, art standards, philosophies and alleged facts-when really challenged would constitute the field of public opinion. It is at once evident that opinions arise where there is some crisis. As old definitions no longer seem to hold for a particular situation, both discussion and action change. People act outside the accepted code, or they express a disbelief in some idea or form of conduct. In this manner public opinion arises. Consciousness of new behavior trends, awareness that the former codes of conduct do not apply, leads to discussion, to new emotional responses, to gossip and, above all, to differences of belief as to what should be done.

The place of difference of opinion can hardly be over-emphasized. It is sometimes thought that public opinion refers only to the final general consensus of an entire group. This, however, is rather the end-product.

( 578) Bryce's treatment of public opinion seems to emphasize this final aspect more particularly. We must always recognize that divergencies as well as agreements are essential to public opinion. We can make this clear by contrasting what Ross calls preponderant opinion with public opinion. Preponderant opinion exists where no questions are raised. For instance, monogamous marriage is generally accepted in the Occidental world. It rests upon preponderant opinion. On the other hand, in America today, such matters as the tariff, war debts, divorce, the Volstead Act, child labor, free verse, censorship of art, the teaching of biological evolution-all are matters of dispute and hence of public opinion. In all these, divergence as well as agreement is significant.

We must also make clear the relation of opinion to attitude. While public opinion rests upon attitudes, opinions are much more superficial than attitudes. As we noted in foregoing chapters, attitudes are fundamental tendencies to act. They are incipient overt responses. Opinion, on the other hand, is much more superficial, much more a verbalization of our attitudes. If we define attitudes as incipient action patterns, we may say that opinions are verbal expressions of these action tendencies. Therefore, in the process of verbalization we are often confronted with the mechanism of rationalization at work.[1]

Attitudes, therefore, are not opinions. An individual's own account of his attitude in his opinion; but opinions are after all largely what the psychoanalysts call a "rationalization." They are his explanations and justifications of his attitudes, rather than his actual "tendencies to act." [2]

Yet opinions are related to attitudes. These verbalizations are indicative of what lies underneath them. In spite of rationalizations, an examination of opinions reveals a rich undersoil of emotional set and feeling which gives rise to the intellectualizations of gossip and discussion. Thus, the myth, the legend, the stereotype, and prejudice which are so heavily loaded with wishes and emotional, dereistic associations are the bases of most

(579) of our opinions. For this reason we doubt if public opinion rests upon the so-called rational faculty; it seems rooted in our deep-laid attitudes and images which have been colored to an amazing degree by our personal-social experience and especially by our culture patterns. Hence, not cool and deliberate attention to the issue marks the development of public opinion, but rather the arousal of old stereotypes, by suggestion through oral and printed gossip. We shall see how this operates in our discussion of propaganda. For the moment an illustration from the presidential campaign of 1928 will suffice. Perhaps not in a generation has the country been so aroused over a presidential election. The opposition to Governor Smith was particularly vigorous in many sections of the country because he was a Roman Catholic and because he advocated a modification of our laws controlling the liquor traffic. A leaflet circulated during the campaign, especially in the Southern States, indicates the appeal made to old myths, legends, and prepossessions of many Protestants in America. The leaflet was a bundle of stereotypes.


We now face the darkest hour in American history . . . . An uncultured Papal product who speaks in the dialect of the slums to function before the world at the head of a supposedly civilized nation. The infamy, the shame, the disgrace of it . . . . It means the Pope above the President, the Canon Law above the Constitution, and the Papal rag above the American Flag . . . . We face the conflict . . . . The happiness of your children in coming years and the protection and salvation of American Institutions depends on the service you render now . . . . May Almighty God consecrate you to this service. Our fathers gave their blood and their lives to build and save America . . . . Quick action, hard work, and serious sacrifice will win . . . . His election means the destruction of American institutions . . . . We need a million men and women today who will swear with uplifted right hand that with the help of the God o f our Fathers no dupe of the pope shall desecrate the sacred office once held by such patriots and statesmen as Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln . . . . Keep Smith out of the White House or America is doomed.[3]

This sort of thing was common during the campaign. Very canny, or fanatical, opponents of Governor Smith circulated millions of these materials, knowing that in the minds of thousands of persons they would arouse old myths, images, and fears of the papal domination of the United States.


If public opinion is made by cool and calm consideration of issues, we rarely see such deliberation in political elections. In the 1928 campaign other appeals were made: prosperity, protective tariff, retention of homely virtues of the past, etc. It is doubtful if calm and deliberate thought determines opinion in other, non-political publics. Man here as elsewhere seems controlled by deep-set images and emotional conditionings which move him to action in one direction or another. He does not seem to be the rational creature sometimes pictured in the political textbooks of history or civics. Thus the myth of papal domination is as old as the arrival of any considerable number of immigrants who professed the Roman Catholic faith. Certainly by 1820 this set of opinions was expressed in the daily press of the country.[4] This myth has been kept alive for over a century; and in the latest political campaign it sprang to active life again because Protestants were faced with a possible loss of political control. These deep-laid attitudes found expression in a genuine fear of an alteration in the country's policy and philosophy. These appeals may not be rational, but they are effective. They are the material out of which social reality is constructed for thousands of people all over the land; to deny their efficacy and to doubt their place in public opinion is to be either ignorant or deliberately short-sighted.

c. A Theory of Public Opinion.-Perhaps we may now venture a theory of public opinion. We may say that it is formed by verbalized attitudes, beliefs, and convictions, which are essentially emotional, and their associated images and ideas. It is formulated in a crisis when people differ in their definitions of new situations. The amount of rational and scientific discussion in public opinion is small, although in special groups, of course, opinion is occasionally based on fact and logic. But even the public opinion based on fact is usually, in the end, incorporated into the larger schema provided by emotional attitudes. We circulate public opinion first by conversation and gossip, second by various modern organs of communications, especially the newspaper and radio. Undoubtedly in our opinions about subjects .not geographically near us, the secondary organs of news and opinion are most essential in furnishing the material for face-to-face discussion and comment. But the .newspaper and radio do not entirely create public opinion. Though they arouse our prejudices, myths, and

( 581) legends, they themselves equally reflect the currents of belief and conviction which are the results of direct social intercommunication. Social interaction in public affairs obviously depends upon both facts and their interpretations. Truly the newspapers and other organs of opinion bring both to us. They influence the direction which our public opinion takes, but they themselves have already been influenced by our common attitudes. In short, public opinion arises when as groups we are faced with issues, when our old frames of behavior are breaking down. Because these ancient patterns are deeply engrained in us, it is impossible for our opinions not to be influenced by our emotional attitudes. Finally, when a consensus of opinion is attained, we may proceed to action as a group.

C. Studies in the Formation of Public Opinion.

Before we close our discussion of the nature and psychology of public opinion we may discuss briefly recent efforts in social psychology to analyze more satisfactorily the formation of, and changes in, public opinion. Both qualitative and quantitative analyses have been attempted; here we can mention only a few examples of each.[5]

1. Qualitative Studies of Public Opinion.-Personal opinion is not unrelated to public opinion. When questions of immigration, the treatment of negroes, divorce, war and peace, are being publicly discussed, the changes in our individual attitudes and beliefs make the ultimate change in our more collective opinion. We may mention changes in individual attitudes toward members of other races:

Early in my life, as far back as I have any recollection, I was taught to hate the negro with all the force my childish impulses could muster. To me, all negroes were fiends and intent upon killing me if ever they obtained the opportunity . . . .

This attitude of hatred for the negro I developed purely from environmental influences in my home life. The first words I remember having heard my father tell me were to keep away from negroes, that they would harm me. Whenever my mother wished to instil discipline in me she would threaten that "a big black man would get me" it I didn't behave . . . .

However, as I grew older and began to read here and there about social problems and their relation to the negro I began to have a change of attiude. It did not come suddenly, and even yet my attitude is somewhat influenced by

( 582) the early training I received. Of course, I soon learned that the sole idea in a negro's mind was not to go about killing people. That attitude changed early. But still, even after that change, I had a tremendous dislike for all negroes.

As I remember it, it was in my second year of high school that first I learned of the narrow ideas that I held of the negro problem. I followed a series of articles that dealt with the situation at length, told how the only solution of the problem was to educate the negro and give him a chance of rising from his low social position. This, of course, proved highly interesting to me because it was the first inkling I ever had that anyone looked with the least possible hope upon the negro. Up to that time he was in my mind a social evil which it would be impossible to get rid of.

It was only through continued reading and study that I saw the folly of my stand and that my attitude was based upon a false valuation of the negro entirely. I learned that if he were given a chance to educate himself he would not be a scourge to the state.[6]

Bogardus gives the following illustration of how our individual observation may alter our opinions of individuals and groups formerly looked upon with disfavor:

Till very recently I held the Jews in much disrespect, partly supported, but in the main without foundation, except as one might consider prejudice and misinformation reasonable grounds for opinion and belief. I had thought of the Jew in the light of current antagonisms. My views were incorrect as touching the part he played in the killing of Christ . . . .

But after personal investigation, and observing Jewish life at close range, I must confess that I am more favorably disposed and more agreeably impressed with them for many reasons.[7]

Elsewhere Bogardus gives an instance of how myths and propaganda affect attitudes and opinions. A student relates:

Several years ago I should have reacted favorably toward the French-Canadian. This would have been due to his connection in my. mind with romance and adventure in the early days of our country when the trapper and fur-trader were likely to be of that race. Longfellow with his Evangeline helped to strengthen this childhood impression.

But during the War, the papers contained frequent accounts of the refusal of the French in Canada to coöperate with the Canadian government in sending men to fight with the Allies, and their colonies were always represented as

(583) holding Canada back educationally. This picture, repeated frequently, of an unassimilated group has prejudiced my mind against the French-Canadian . . . . Thrilling north-woods movies or the fact that the most attractive pupil I ever had was a French-Canadian do not remove that dislike from my mind. The World War has been the cause of my change of feeling for the French. I have heard so many reports from those who were in France during the war that have led me to believe that the standard of morality is very low there. Those I have met since the war seem to be so shallow and unreliable.[8]

A more distinctly communal development of public opinion, however, is described in Lindeman's theoretical analysis of the process of community action in some particular crisis. He presents certain typical steps in the process by which a consensus of opinion is built up about community needs-playgrounds, health centers, a chamber of commerce, a bond issue, or what not. The following is an adaptation from and extension of his analysis:

The first step is the consciousness of need. Some person or persons express the desire or need for some definite project which touches the community. This need may arise out of an unforeseen crisis; or it may, as Znaniecki has pointed out, actually be a voluntary crisis, as when a community undertakes such a thing as a great national or international fair or some other project not necessarily thrust upon the group by circumstances.

The second step is spreading the consciousness of the need. Here leadership and the work of minorities are important. Educational campaigns and the devices of propaganda may be used with success. Church, labor, business or other groups within the larger community may be instrumental in the diffusion of the awareness of the need for change.

The next step is the projection of consciousness of need upon the leadership of the community. There may be some friction at this point. Cross-currents of opinion and allegiance come into play. Questions of group and personal prestige may intrude themselves. Meetings, face-to-face discussion, publicity through the press,-all these further this process.

The fourth step is the rise of the emotional impulse to meet the need quickly. This seems to arise out of an heightened feeling of the importance of the project. Our growing sense of shame at not hurrying the project through contrasts with our imagined pride in the accomplished act. 1 his emotional solution may actually block more deliberate consideration. In this period, if it arises, there may actually be a shift in leadership. The minority or leader who can capitalize the emotional fervor of the masses is apt to replace the minority and its leaders

( 584) who initiated the project. Sometimes people who are over-impressed with the objective aspects of a project ignore the value of the emotional interest. If they do not see their way clear to correlate their more intellectualized approach with the emotional, a split may occur and the project fall through.

The fifth step is the presentation of other solutions. If the emotional appeal is not strong enough to put the project over, other solutions may be presented by other leaders and minorities. Sometimes some minorities and leaders become irritated by this, but as a rule, these additional considerations are valuable and lead to a next step.

The sixth phase of the project is he conflict of solutions. Here minority groups come into conflict with each other over which direction the project should take. Leadership again comes to the front. One leader may wish to suppress the conflict of solutions, another may welcome it as a necessary and essential step. If a dominant minority wins out at this stage, in spite of compromises, the chances are large that the conflict may re-appear at a later time with the thwarted impulses of the suppressed minority in a heightened emotional state. This sort of thing has happened over and over again. It represents very neatly the likeness of the crowd to the public in much of its behavior. There may be another way out than suppression. There is either scientific study of the problem or a continued open discussion of it.

The seventh stage, then, may be investigation. Objective-minded committees are appointed to discover the facts of the situation and to make recommendations. Crime commissions, labor committees, expert groups to study business, etc., are illustrative. When these investigations are completed they may be the basis for further consideration.

The eighth step is the open discussion of the issue, either after an investigation or without it. The community mass-meeting is a favorite device to produce this discussion. Many people fear such a gathering because it is so easy in the mass-meeting to turn discussion into emotional orations and to sweep the people off their feet. In any case, leadership of various sorts develops. Doubtless in many cases the emotional crowd-compeller comes into his own in such situations. Certain minorities may so pre-arrange such meetings as to prevent open discussion, or something of democratic give-and-take of opinion may occur. A study of actual situations makes one skeptical of the extent of rationality developed in such assemblages. Lindeman warns us that if rational and democratic discussion is rare in smaller communities, it is hard to hope for the democratic ideal in the larger arena of national and international opinion.

The ninth step is the integration of solutions. If the discussion is successful, it may lead ideally to a synthesis of various suggested, solutions into a common project. And in the ideal case, the allegiances of various "vital-interest" groups will be conserved so far as possible. The acceptance of the unified program, however, may not satisfy all groups. This depends on the spread of the general attitude favoring tentative solutions and a willingness to coöperate, with a project arrived at by such integration.

( 585)

Often a tenth step follows. There is compromise on the basis of tentative progress. Certain groups may relinquish particular elements of their plans in order not to suffer complete defeat. The solution then consists of compromises or accomodations. We may consider such a solution as "tentatively progressive." [9]

Lindeman admits that not all projects arise or work themselves out in this fashion, but he does present something of the manner in which community projects may be carried through. The present writer believes that Lindeman's theoretical analysis is probably still tinged too much with the doctrine of the rational man. (We are reminded of Dewey's five steps in logical reasoning.) Too frequently our tendency is to solve our public problems at stage four, in a flush of emotion. As groups we sometimes reach stage seven; but our easily wearied community interest almost never carries us beyond the fact-finding reports. Many community projects are more definitely carried out by well-organized minorities who use propaganda to gain their ends. A definite improvement in public opinion would be made if we could develop an increased appreciation of the importance of objective examination of needs and projects, and a willingness of our various special groups to integrate their own interests to the larger community values. Whether we can develop so much community intelligence remains to be seen. A discussion of the whole technique of appeals in these projects would force us to consider the place of the school, the theater, of posters and cartoons, of the newspaper, the radio, and the media of our various special interest groups, such as employers' associations, chambers of commerce, labor unions, racial minorities, and so on. Numerous more or less objective studies of the mechanisms of opinion-making are just now under way, but so far we know very little of the processes in detail.

2. Quantitative Studies of Changes in Public Opinion --Statistical analysis of the formation and changes in public opinion is just beginning. These studies will ultimately be of great value in giving us a cross-section of the changes which occur in a time series of events, but they can hardly describe the psychological mechanisms which bring these alterations about. For the present this must be left to other techniques, which may be called, for want of a better term, historico-genetic.[10]


When we come to apply the truly experimental method to complex social and personality data, if we ever do, we may secure a more adequate picture of the mechanisms of change, both from the social and from the psychological points of view. For the present we must depend on the cruder but always valuable methods of case analysis. On the other hand, with the increasing precision of statistical methods, we may expect an increasingly large number of quantitative analyses of the formation of and changes in public opinion, as well as of other social-psychological and social phenomena.

One important question in our discussion of public opinion is the influence of the press upon the accuracy of our reporting of events. Bird made a study of the way in which inaccurate newspaper reports may affect our testimony about events we have actually witnessed. We summarize his report:

He presented the results of certain experiments in suggestibility to two large groups of undergraduate students. Descriptive and statistical material were given, but certain scientific cautions were emphasized in interpreting these data. The following day the college newspaper published a summary of his lecture in which he was reported as having made statements which were obviously false. Bird then attempted to see how much influence the newspaper report of his lecture had upon the accuracy of report of the students themselves. Some of the students had read the article in the college paper; others had not. He thus had an opportunity to compare the accuracy of those who heard of the material solely from the lecture with the accuracy of those who heard of it first from the lecture and again from the news story in the campus paper.

"The four questions used are of the determinative order. They are: (1) Who were the subjects in the experiments on hand-rigidity produced by verbal suggestion? (2) What percentage of these subjects was suggestible? (3) How many college students were used in the experiment on the illusion of warmth? (q) Did you read the article which appeared in The Minnesota Daily of Tuesday, January 19, 1926, entitled: `Wearing Leggin's? You're Suggestible, Says Psychologist'? . . . In answer to all questions pertaining to the lecture material the groups of students who have not read the press are more accurate reporters than those who have read the press. There is no exception to this statement. Of the eighteen differences (differences between percentages and P. E. elf differ-

(587) -ences in regard to the first three questions in three groups: business administration students, men of the Science, Letters and Arts college, and women of the latter college), six are approximately three times the probable error of the difference and six are approximately four times the probable error of the difference. The conclusion seems justified, therefore, that the factor which differentiated these groups of students is the knowledge of the press article by the less accurate groups. Reading the press article yields these contrasts when certain conditions of stimulation might be expected to keep the differences in report at a minimum-such conditions for example as, the presentation of the data by lecture required a longer time than that by the press, the repetition of facts in the lecture with verbal and written emphasis, and the transcribing of the data in notebooks for review. The data do not indicate what role the press exerts in the formation of attitudes nor do they demonstrate the extent to which beliefs are established when the only source of information is the newspaper. . .

"In summarizing the material . . . We may say that the data presented show that groups of college students who have not been subjected to the errors of a newspaper report are consistently more accurate in their answers to specific questions which deal with the facts distorted than are other groups of college students who have, perhaps unwittingly, formed contradictory habits through the medium of the newspaper. Furthermore, they yield corroboration of other studies upon two points, namely, ( t ) that reports which involve numerical statements are less accurate than those which are non-quantitative in character (students made the greatest errors in questions two and three) and (2) the differences in report between the sexes are negligible. They also show to what extent a press article can displace information disseminated by the lecture method." [11]

Such a study as this indicates some of the problems of the influence of the press on the accuracy of our reports of events which we have actually witnessed. From this and other studies of the accuracy of testimony, it is clear that the secondary and tertiary dissemination of facts, ideas, and interpretations through the press produces greater distortion than occurs after direct personal perception. This confirms our opinion that the media of public communication increase the probability of inaccuracy and falsification in report. Accordingly public opinion can hardly avoid being tinged with fantasy and falsehood.

Rice and Willey made another study of changes in opinion. They it tempted to measure the shifts in belief among college students in the doctrine of biological evolution following an address by the late William Jennings Bryan on "Science versus Evolution" at Dartmouth College,

( 588) December 8, 1923. These investigators frankly admitted dealing really with "a group of related variables" and not with a single factor because they had no way of segregating the effects of pre-lecture publicity, of incidental personal contact with the speaker, of classroom comments by instructors and of the "vigorous interstimulation between and among the students themselves." The following adaptation of their report gives the essential facts:

At the first meeting of their classes following Byran's lecture, they submitted the following questionnaire:

With reference to the doctrine that man evolved from lower animal forms in harmony with general principles of organic evolution:

1. I reject the doctrine completely.

2. While I do not reject it completely I do not believe that the evidence favors it.

3. I am undecided whether to reject or to accept it.

4. While I do not accept it completely I believe the evidence favors it.

5. I accept the doctrine completely.

Only students who had heard Mr. Bryan's talk answered the questionnaire. Of these, 39 were freshman, who had not had the compulsory college course in evolution, and 136 were sophomores, juniors, and seniors. The total number was nearly 1o per cent of the entire student body. The students were asked also to state which of these five statements coincided most nearly with their own beliefs both before and after hearing the lecturer.

From the three upper classes, 70 of the men had accepted without reservation the doctrine of organic evolution. After hearing the lecture this number was reduced to 59. Four men had changed their attitude on Question 4. On Question 3, 8 men who had previously accepted the theory of evolution were drawn into a position of doubt, and 7 of the men were drawn over to a position of non-acceptance. Although small, the freshman group showed, on the whole, a stronger tendency to be swung by the lecture toward Bryan's view. "Partly, it may be presumed, as a result of greater maturity, but in greater part due to their familiarity with the principles of evolution acquired in the compulsory course, the percentage of students accepting the doctrine without qualifications was four times greater in the sample representing the upper classes than in the freshman group. Conversely, the percentage of freshmen rejecting the doctrine completely was between eight and nine times as great as the percentage of upperclassmen." In another computation, the investigators compared the actual changes in opinion with the theoretically possible changes. "The views of more than one-quarter of Mr. Bryan's hearers were changed substantially as a result of his discussion. Among the larger of the two groups represented, nearly one-quarter of the men who were not already complete disbelievers in evolutionary doctrine were influenced in the direction which Mr. Bryan intended." In many instances, he did not convert them, they were merely

(589) strengthened in their views. Some men shifted from complete acceptance of evolution to the position of question 4.

In a subsequently more detailed analysis of the conversions and modifications of views in either direction, it was shown that the shift in opinion was in the "direction of Bryan's doctrine, although reversals of opinion are relatively few." A third conclusion, therefore, is that Mr. Bryan's lecture at Dartmouth "served not so much to create converts as to arouse an attitude of skepticism or caution toward the deductions of the classroom. Whether or not this effect was transitory or permanent is, of course, not made evident." [12]

Rice points out that these analyses are purely statistical. By selections from the narratives of various students he tries to throw some light on how the speech affected the students' ideas and feelings. One thing was clear. Many who were already unqualified believers in evolution were reinforced in their convictions by hearing Mr. Bryan. Another interesting fact was the almost universal agreement on the excellence of Mr. Bryan's oratory. There were also good evidences of the ability of the students to distinguish oratory from reasoning and to detect the speciousness in some of the speaker's arguments. Many, while not convinced by Mr. Bryan, said that they felt the need of greater caution in their own views.

Again the striking thing is the fact that shifts in opinion, even of this sort, are not for the most part very great. There were not many out-and-out conversions from one extreme to the other. In view of the intelligence, training, and situation of the students, this is rather to be expected. If even these students had heard Mr. Bryan as members of a revival audience who had in general a cultural heritage of evangelical religion and no particular training in critical thought, he might have swayed them to a complete reversal of position. To repeat: in comparison with attitudes and habits, opinion seems to be superficial, and it appears to change very much in the direction in which these deeper trends of behavior are moving.

The distribution of opinions on public questions has been the subject of some discussion among students of public opinion. This is not the place to enter into the niceties of the controversy. Certain writers, Rice among them, have said that "Individual attitudes are distributed" under the normal probability curve "apart from some distorting situation." Allport and Hartman believe that opinion on questions of public concern distributes itself in skewed, bi-modal, or even multi-modal form. The problem can

( 590) be finally solved only by further statistical and qualitative analyses. We may, however, mention one thing. If we recognize the differences between attitudes and opinions about public questions, the facts will be more clearly evident. If we are correct in our opinion that differences as well as agreement are a fundamental characteristic of public opinion, then it seems that bi-modal or mufti-modal distributions would occur at some phase of the total stretch of time during which the discussion took place. In other words, public opinion implies just these "distorting" situations which Rice would ignore. These questions aside, it is interesting to note a few of the types of distribution discovered by Allport and Hartman in their study of student opinions:

They chose seven current issues of social and political interest. These were the League of Nations, the qualifications of President Coolidge, the distribution of wealth, the legislative control of the Supreme Court, prohibition, the Ku Klux Klan, and graft in politics. Sixty upper-class students were asked to write their views upon them. From this data seven scales were constructed, one for each topic, giving a wide range of opinion. The degree of certainty of opinion on each topic was also requested. Results were secured from about 367 students. The distribution of opinions on prohibition and the distribution of wealth only will be noted here. "The graphic representation of the results for the `prohibition question' will illustrate both the scale and its use. The steps, which are represented along the base line, begin with the statement that `the present prohibition amendment and interpretative statute are satisfactory, and enforcement should be made more severe: This view is represented in column I, at the left; and the number of the subjects accepting it, as shown proportionally by the height of the column, is 56 (15.5 per cent of the group). At the opposite end, column XIII, we have the view that `the open saloon should be universally permitted.' It has only two adherents (0.6 per cent of the group). The steps to the right of column I represent a progressive decrease in the favor with which the prohibition laws are held. With step 7 we pass over from prohibition to the side of license, steps 7 to 13 indicating, successively,. state option, home brewing of wines and beers, government stores of wines and beers, local option, beers and wines in cafes, government stores for all liquors, and the open saloon.

"In a flat shaped graph [see, for example, Figure 8], there is plotted. beneath each step of the scale, the average certainty felt by the persons who Chose the view represented by the step in question. The vertical distance indicates the average certainty in a possible range of from 1 to 5. The seven certainty curves, in general, rise toward the extremes of the scales. That is, reactionary and radical, strong `pro' and rabid `anti,' are alike in the fact that they feel more certain of their opinions than those who lie at a mid-region of the scale. Since both ex-

( 591) -tremes cannot be wholly right, certainty and intensity of conviction do not indicate accuracy, but probably a tendency toward emotional bias."

Here it is evident that opinion falls very largely in the bi-modal form, not on the extremes of the scale, but between one extreme and a modificationist position. The degree of certainty also reveals a bi-modal distribution, in this case more particularly between the two extremes.

Figure 8 showing Distribution of Opinions on Prohibition from Allport and Hartman

The differences in opinion regarding the distribution of wealth show a frequency surface which more nearly approaches the normal probability curve. (See figure 9.) At the one extreme were those who thought the present system ideal; a middle conservative group, the mode, represents a conservative position which "recognizes a problem in the present status but opposes government ownership." The positions to the right in the figure represent a more radical position looking to large taxation of wealth, government ownership, confiscation of private fortunes, and abolition of the wage system.

In addition to the determination of opinions, certain personality traits of these students were studied by a self-rating scheme. "A significant result of this study is the indication of fundamental resemblances between the holders of opinions at the two logical extremes of the scale. Radial and Reactionary lie upon the same side (rather than a-straddle) of the conservative group in self-rating on emotionality, rapidity, and self-reliance, in overestimation of mental ability, in failure to react when asked concerning their attitude upon the sex relation, in lack of agreement with the conventional moral code, in tendency to differ from what they understand to be the political views of their parents, and in intensity of conviction upon political issues. The profiles made from the attitude study


Figure 9 showing differences in opinion on distribution of wealth

show that they share one another's attitudes on diverse questions more fully than the conservative shares the attitudes of either. The atypical individual, in other words, may be reactionary in some things and radical in others. Instead, therefore, of speaking of radical and reactionary personalities, we should, perhaps, recognize as a more fundamental category the atypicality of the individual. What is the psychological nature of atypicality in opinion? We can suggest tentatively that covert emotional conflict as indicated by tests and interviews, may be an important factor.

"There were also, however, differences between individuals taking the reactionary and the radical view. The reactionaries exceed the radicals in self-ratings on self-reliance, in certainty, as shown in the opinion curves, and in lack of insight into their abilities and traits. The attitude studies show them to be more scientifically-minded and more snobbish and cynical than the radicals. The radicals, on the other hand, seem more retiring, more `tender-minded' and religious, more aware of their own natures, less self-assertive, more moralistic and meliorative, and more sensitive to the opinions of others. There was a greater proportion of women than men in the radical group, while the reverse relation existed for the reactionary group. In some respects this distinction between re-

(593) actionary and radical resembles that made by psychoanalysts between the extrovert and the introvert." [13]

This study reveals certain distributions of opinion about questions of public concern. The divergence of opinion on prohibition into two major groups in contrast to the somewhat more "normal" distribution of opinions about the distribution of wealth apparently arises from the fact that prohibition, after all, is much more definitely a subject of public discussion than is the question of the distribution of wealth. Certainly, the question of the distribution of wealth is not so acute in the minds of our college populations.

In the autumn of 1924, Rice studied the shifts of the presidential preferences of about 35o Dartmouth College men under campaign stimulation. He secured opinions early in October and at election time in November. He also attempted to determine if there was any relationship between attitudes of radicalism, liberalism, or conservatism, and the tendency during the campaign to change preferences for the candidates. The following summary presents his major findings:

The distribution of judgments on the scale from radical to reactionary approached the normal curve in form but with a slight skewing toward the radical end, which Rice thought rather to be expected in a liberal institution such as Dartmouth. A definite correlation was revealed between October first preferences and the students' estimates of their position on the scale of radicalism-reactionism. All of the radical group preferred La Follette on this first ballot, Davis held the middle ground, and Coolidge got most of his support from the conservative liberals, liberal conservatives and reactionary conservatives.

"The changes from October to November reveal a definite `drift' to Coolidge. Coolidge gained some ground as first choice, and Davis as second, while both Davis and LaFollette lost strength as first choices. Davis was evidently a good compromise candidate, for in first and second choice votes combined, he possessed a plurality. Moreover, he received a majority of the second choice votes of the supporters of both Coolidge and LaFollette."

The net changes of preference, however, were not large. . . . "Among 340

(593) students, 44 only or 12.9 per cent changed in their first preferences. An additional 34, or 9.9 per cent changed in their second but not in their first preferences. Hence 264 or 77.2 per cent remained unchanged in first, second and third choice."

The relation of the position of the student on the reactionary-radical scale and his tendency to change political preference is shown in the following table:

Table 17: Showing Changes in Political Preferences in Campaign of 1924

Unchanged Per cent of total
Changed in first preference
Changed in
second prefer-
ence only
Radical liberals 65.6 24.1 10.3
Conservative liberals 76.6 11.7 11.7
Liberal conservatives 80.5 7.6 11.9
Reactionary conservatives 84.6 7.7 7.7

It is clear that stability of preference varied directly with increasing conservatism. The latter term, it must be remembered, is based upon the subjects' own appraisals.

In this particular study, moreover, it is evident that the "conservative was like the standpatter . . . . LaFollette's supporters did not `stick,' as did those of Davis, nor did the latter's adherents remain as loyal as did those of Coolidge." 14

We must remember that these quantitative studies have been made in college student populations. We do not know whether similar results would be obtained in the general voting population. We may suppose that college students are not any more consistently rational than the common run of citizens would be under similar stimulation. All of these studies have the virtue of being based more or less on actual life situations. Certainly the topics listed by Allport and Hartman were at the time distinctly under public discussion, with the possible exception of the distribution of wealth. In Rice's investigations the situations were actual in every sense of the word. In fact, the college campus was probably more interested in the campaign of 1924 than many other communities were.

These investigations lend support to our fundamental thesis that public opinion arises chiefly out of crises, that it is more superficial than attitudes and habits, and that it is after all only slightly modified by immediate

(595) stimulation. Unless the crisis is very extreme, our basic attitudes and values shift slowly and even then they can only move in ways permitted by our surrounding values.

It seems abundantly evident that the fundamental motivations for conduct and for opinion are emotional and irrational rather than intellectual. Once we have arrived at definite attitudes and interpretations, the various stimuli of political campaigns, speeches, and the press do not do much to make us more rational. When we change our opinion very radically, we have probably shifted in our deeper, emotionally toned attitudes.

In a survey made just after the presidential campaign of 1924, Meier secured statements of the motives which people give for their voting. He got returns from 1,088 persons. Of these, 875 were university students, "mostly upper-classmen of voting age or thereabouts" from a middle Western university. The balance were from occupational groups in large cities in four neighboring states.

The successful campaign was the one which dealt least with rational motives and most with simple appeals directed toward the arousal of specific instinctive, emotional, and habit pattern-responses. This fact holds as well for university upperclassmen as for occupation groups.

The appeals employed by the successful party were almost without exception readily classifiable into definite psychological categories, whereas those used by the defeated parties were mostly rational, mixed, or undetermined motives not designed apparently to call out any specific response . . . .

The motive for voting assigned by the largest number of voters was that the successful candidate was believed safe, sane, and secure, while the others were considered "uncertain quantities." In contrast is the fact that one of these uncertain quantities had been pronounced by competent judges to have been the best qualified man personally for the office, and the other, while maligned and no doubt often misunderstood, still nevertheless has a long and enviable record for social legislation, which appears to be greater than any other person's in Congress.

The second most important reason given by those who voted for the successful candidate was that he (the President) was saving their money in the way of an economy program (bonus, postal salaries, pension vetoes) and tax reduction. This was accorded a prominent place despite the alleged waste of the administration through the oil leases, Veterans' Bureau corruption, and huge naval expenditures of doubtful value.

The results show that such appeals to instinctive, emotional, and habit pattern-responses occupy the attention of the voter to the exclusion of more practical considerations and with such force that counter-appeals based on logi-

(596) -cal premises and unscientifically presented have little or minor significance. The number of individuals voting in accordance with life-long or traditional party inclination is less than expectation. In the case of Republican returns, the constant party-affiliation factor stands in fifteenth place; in Democratic, fifteenth also, though belief in economic program of former stands higher.

Sex differences appear to be inconsiderable. In the case of men the first three reasons in point of frequency are safety, economy, ability. For women they are economy, safety, ability. In the case of the most important reason they are for men-- safety, ability, best economic principles; for women-ability, safety, best economic principles .[15]

Here again we find corroboration of our view that man is motivated by his emotional, irrational attitudes. The fundamental values rest upon emotional conditioning rather than upon intellectualized ideas; and in the face of a threatened crisis, man is moved by the former more often than by the latter. As we know, frequently the intellectual processes are employed in concocting rationalizations rather than in the primary determination of conduct.

D. Leadership and Public Opinion.

Leadership and the formation of public opinion present at once the problem which we have already discussed of the relationship of the masses to the leaders. Much that we said before applies here. Munro among others holds that public opinion is largely made by a minority of leaders who project their beliefs and convictions on their followers. He remarks that public opinion is not a "spontaneous emanation from the mind of the multitude" but that it is "in very large measure, the handiwork of the few." And yet we can hardly imagine that any beliefs or convictions can be thrust upon the masses that do not harmonize with their fundamental feelings and emotions-their attitudes and sentiments. As we shall see in our discussion of propaganda, we can arouse public opinion on all sorts of questions by manipulating the sources of public information and interpretation, but even propaganda can not make public opinion about something entirely foreign to the masses.

What actually happens therefore is not the creation de novo of public opinion by the Few or the élite. Rather, they first of all set the pace for others in certain directions of opinions. Second, they crystallize the vague

(597) but none the less deep-laid feelings of the masses. They make mass attitudes explicit in verbal form, and arouse intellectual assent to subjects about which the masses have already generated feelings and emotions. Finally, by clever manipulation of facts and interpretations, they may enhance and emphasize some particular set of public attitudes and inhibit and negate others. A familiar device of the political speech is to appeal to popular fears so effectively that awkward issues of the campaign may be ignored. In 1924 when Democratic and Progressive leaders were vigorously attacking the oil scandals of the Harding administration, the Coolidge managers were talking of "Coolidge prosperity." They thus provoked a popular fear of bankruptcy and aroused the whole set of popular attitudes involving our desire for security and a continuation of the status quo. This is a favorite trick of politicians the world over. It is always effective. Yet because public opinion is thus aroused, it does not follow that the opinion is created by leaders or minorities. Rather, it is the outcome of the stimulation of certain deep-set attitudes to the exclusion of others. Especially it is true that the arousal of fear for our individual economic well-being touches our attitudes and action patterns more decidedly than our indignation at the sight of the government being robbed of a few millions in oil lands. We can not feel the results of the robbery directly at the time. We do, however, get a very real sense of impending disaster when we hear remarks about the empty dinner pail, the closed factory, and a universal reduction in the standard of living. The same thing applies to our inertia and our refusal to be interested in the foreign policy of the country. Senator Borah's appeal to the old Americanisms of isolation, self-determination, and freedom from foreign entanglements-a stereotype of Washington's phrase-is much more effective than the intellectualized appeal for international arbitration and concern with European economic and political problems. In brief, the leaders and their minorities are effective because they direct the currents of popular opinion by crystallizing vague attitudes and feelings, and especially by appealing, in phrases made of old and familiar stereotypes and legends, to our deep-laid desires for security.


A. Further Reading: Source Book for Social Psychology, Chapter XXV, pp. 722-53


B. Questions and Exercises.

1. Discuss questions and exercises from assignment in Source Book, Chapter XXV, pp. 753-54

2. How has the making of public opinion altered with the shift from primary to secondary group interest?

3. Criticize the various theories of public opinion.

4. How may changes in opinion finally, lead to changes in attitudes and habits? Illustrate from personal experience. .

5. What are the current issues in our society around which public opinion tends to develop?

C. Topics for Class Reports and Longer Written Papers.

1. See assignments for reports and longer papers in Source Book, Chapter XXV, p. 754.

2. Review Graves, Readings in Public Opinion, Chapter II, papers 1, 2, 3 the rôle of discussion in making opinion.


  1. For this reason the measurement of opinion as a reflection of attitude is open to some question, because what a man says he believes or says he will-do, may be quite different from his real attitude on the matter or his real action when action is necessary. Cf. L. L. Thurstone, "Attitudes Can Be Measured," American Journal of Sociology, 1928, vol. XXXIII, pp. 529-54; R. Bain, "An Attitude on Attitude Research," ibid., 1928, vol. XXXIII, pp. 940-57; E. Faris, "Attitudes and Behavior," ibid., 1928, vol. XXXIV, pp. 271-81.
  2. R. E. Park, "Experience and Race Relations," Journal of Applied Sociology, 1924, vol IX, p. 20.
  3. From The Rail Splitter, Milan, Illinois, 1928.
  4. Cf. K. Young, "Baiting the Alien, an Old Habit," Nation, 1925, vol. CXX, pp. 710-11. Cf. Chapter XIX.
  5. The reader is referred to the mass of material collected in W. B. Graves, Readings in Public Opinion, 1929, for an idea of the formation of public opinion through various agencies. Cf. also S. A. Rice, Quantitative Methods in Politics, 1928.
  6. B. Lasker, Race Attitudes in Children, 1929, pp. 40-41. Courtesy of Henry Holt and Company.
  7. E. S. Bogardus, "Race Friendliness and Social Distance," Journal of Applied Sociology, 1927, vol. XI, pp. 282-283.
  8. E. S. Bogardus, "Analyzing Changes in Public Opinion," Journal of Applied Sociology, 1925, vol. IX, pp. 379-80.
  9. Adapted from E. C. Lindeman, The Community, 1921, Chapter IX. Courtesy of the Association Press.
  10. The analysis of public opinion does not differ fundamentally in this respect from the study of other social phenomena, or of personality changes. For a discussion of the statistical and the genetic approach to personality, see K. Young, "The Measurement of Personal and Social Traits," Publications of the American Sociological Society, 1927, Vol. XXI, pp. 92-105, and also in Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1928, Vol. XXII, pp. 431-42. Also S. A. Rice, Quantitative Methods in Politics, 1928, Chapters III, IV and W. I. & D. S. Thomas, The Child in America, 1928, Chapter XIII and pertinent sections in G. A. Lundberg, Social Research, 1929.
  11. Summarized and quoted from C. Bird, "The Influence of the Press Upon the Accuracy of Report," Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1927, Vol. XXII, pp. 123-29.
  12. Adapted and selected front S. A. Rice, Quantitative Methods in Politics, 1928, Chapter XVIII. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
  13. Adapted and selected from F. H. Allport and D. A. Hartman, "A Technique for the Measurement and Analysis of Public Opinion," Publications of the American Sociological Society, 1926 vol. XX pp. 241-44 printed as vol. XXXII, No. 1, Part II American journal of Sociology, July 1926. For a more complete account of this work, see Allport and Hartman, "The Measurement and Motivation of Atypical Opinion in a Certain Group," American Political Science Review, 1925, vol. XIX, pp. 735-60. Cf. also Rice, op. cit., Chapter VI for discussion of this study.
  14. Adapted and selected from S. A. Rice, "Differential Changes of Political Preference under Campaign Stimulation,". Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1926, vol. XX, pp. 297-303. Cf. also, Rice, op. cit., Chapter XIX.
  15. N. C. Meier, "Motives in Voting: A Study in Public Opinion," American Journal of Sociology, 1925, Vol. XXI, pp. 210, 211, 212.

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