Social Perception of Surveys: The Polish Experiece


Paweł B. Sztabiński
Franciszek Sztabiński

Abstract: Mutual relations between public opinion and politics are among the essential elements of democratic order. Apart from elections, surveys are the only credible way to know what kind of opinions are held by the public. However, in order for surveys to provide reliable information on opinions, the society must understand the purpose of surveys and have trust in them. In this paper we refer to results of research conducted in 1994-2012 in order to show how attitudes towards surveys evolved in Poland, a country of a ‘young’ democracy. The findings indicate that-much like in established democracies-the vast majority of Poles do understand the need for surveys. The main purposes that are mentioned include informing the authorities about the society’s opinions and informing the society about those opinions, and this calls for wide dissemination of survey results. However, a number of reser- vations are also formulated with respect to surveys conducted in Poland, which might un- dermine the society’s trust in the results. At the end of the article we present conclusions from research for the survey practice.

Keywords: surveys on surveys, attitudes toward surveys, trust in surveys