Opinion polls are quantitative surveys carried out to gauge and compare people's views, experiences and behaviour. There are several different kinds of opinion polls, including questionnaires, face-to-face interviews, telephone surveys, online/email surveys, and deliberative polling (see separate entry).
• The cheapest option is usually to buy a few questions on an existing survey, such as YouGov.
• Costs go up if the survey is created from scratch, carried out independently, completed face to face, etc.
• Compiling and analysing the data can also be costly.
Approximate time expense
• Depending on the scale of the survey, the numbers of respondents, the amount of data gathered, etc.
• If done properly, opinion polls will generate statistically significant data about wider public opinion.
• There is a potential for inaccuracy or bias, such as sampling error: the participants not being 'representative'.
• The wording of the questions asked may affect the findings.
• The findings may only provide part of the story and can be misleading.
• Opinion polls do not provide information about how or why the respondents think as they do or how this may alter over time.
• They do not allow for a two-way dialogue between the people carrying out the survey and the respondents.
The first known opinion polls took place in the 19th Century to predict the outcome of American presidential elections.
Image by lumaxart.
Gather individual pre-existing opinions
Number of participants
Self selected participants attending as individuals (open access process)
A Group which broadly reflects the Demographic make up of a certain community or population
Statistically representative sample of a population
Representatives of wider interest groups (stakeholders)
Level of awareness and interest
participants know about some aspects/can roughly articulate some interest
participants are well informed and can articulate their interests
Crime and justice
Culture and arts
Environment and climate change
Health and well-being
Housing and Planning
Science and technology
Limit search to...
... online processes
Level of involvement
Children and young people
Ethnic minority groups
Groups with low levels of literacy/confidence
People with learning difficulties