What is a poll used for?

A Question A Day
Publié le 24/07/18Modifié le 20/03/19

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Poll comes from an old english word meaning “head”, and then came to mean “counting heads”. We also say opinion poll: we ask people what they think about certain subjects and then count the different answers. Polls are used to know people’s opinions on various subjects such as a candidate for election, or a TV programme.

But how do you carry out an opinion poll?

Poll specialists ask questions following very precise rules. We say they are carrying out a survey of a “representative sample of the population”. Indeed, to know people’s opinions, we can’t ask everybody: it would take too long! Most polls choose 1000 people who best represent the total population: young people, old people, women and men. The questions can be asked on the street, by telephone or on the Internet. The results of the poll give an idea of what people are thinking at a given moment in time. Polls are announced in the newspapers or on TV and can have a huge influence on people. That’s why they are often criticised: some think we attach too much importance to them. Sometimes the polls get it wrong. In elections, for example, the candidate who wins is not always the one the polls gave favourite.

Nom de l'auteur : Jacques Azam

Producteur : Milan Presse, France Télévisions

Année de copyright : 2018

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