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date: 25 April 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter critically reflects on the deceptively simple relationship between language and survey response: the language-opinion connection. It discusses what survey researchers actually know about this link, paying close attention to challenges involving conceptualization, measurement, and research design. Throughout, the discussion emphasizes a core theme: despite great advancements in sampling, measurement, and research design, the study of language and survey response is bereft of strong theory. Thus, while the language-opinion connection seems on the surface easy to assess, public opinion researchers have modest theory to explain how, when, and among whom language influences survey response. Against this backdrop, the chapter outlines several ways forward, stressing in particular the importance of identifying and testing psychological mechanisms.

Keywords: language, survey response, conceptualization, measurement, psychological mechanisms

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