The Evolution of Public Opinion Research and its Significance for the German-American Dialogue
In his monumental work, Walter Lippmann (1922) examined the problems inherent in understanding how citizens in a democratic society make their decisions on public issues. Writing in 1921, in the wake of the First World War, Lippmann questioned the ability of individuals to have sufficient knowledge to make informed judgements on complicated policy decisions. He argued that human beings make decisions based on their emotional prejudices. “We do not first see, and then define; we define first and then see .... In the great blooming, buzzing confusion of the outer world, we pick out what our culture has already defined for us and we tend to perceive that which we have picked out in the form stereotyped for us by our culture” (Lippmann 1997: 54).
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