‘Don’t know’ responses in American polls about Arab countries: More than just ‘No Opinion’?purchase PDF
Authors: Ayman Mansour Nada And Hesham Mesbah And Lee B. Becker
DK responses,no opinion,non-attitudes,Arab countries,no response,Arab Israeli conflict
This study examines the factors that determine the use of ‘don’t know’ (DK) responses in American public opinion polls about Arab countries. The data show that the American respondents tend to use the DK option more often when asked about their overall attitudes towards these countries. Drawing on a series of telephone surveys conducted by Gallup (2000–2013) that used national samples (N=13,527 in fourteen surveys), the findings show that DK responses are used to conceal positive or neutral attitudes towards Arab countries rather than to express no opinion. The use of DK was significantly related to general favourable attitudes. The respondents who sympathized more with the Palestinian Arabs against the Israelis in the Middle East conflict, and those who had a relatively overall positive attitude towards the Arab world, were more likely to use DK when asked about their attitudes about Arab countries. The findings also show that the use of the news media (following international news) and demographics (age, gender and education) have a significant impact on the probability of providing DK responses. The findings also indicate that respondents’ cognitive sophistication enhanced opinion formation.