Segments in this Video

Brief History of Polls and Surveys in America (01:45)


"The little fellow," has been the target of pollsters for over 50 years. Advertisers and marketers use surveys to gain understanding of our emotions, which can then be manipulated to sell anything from breakfast cereal to presidential candidates.

Consumer Opinion: a Valuable Commodity (02:23)

Advertisers, marketers and campaign consultants understand that Americans are motivated to buy, based on feelings. Bill Moyers asks viewers to consider the place of democracy in a system that values the ability to manipulate human emotion.

BehaviorScan: The Ultimate Survey (04:08)

Information Resources Incorporated's (IRI) massive marketing project measures the viewing and buying habits of 3500 participant families in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Can a Moister Cake Mix Make You a Better Mom? (03:55)

A glimpse into a product focus group demonstrates how marketers identify women's emotional responses and psychological motivations for buying in order to promote their products.

Reason vs. Emotion: Selling a President (05:22)

Richard Wirthlin is the man behind Ronald Reagan's positive image. Reagan's PR strategy was the result of years of research into the language of values and emotion, and enabled him to change the public's perception without changing his policies.

Using Technology to Measure American Values (03:45)

The Consumer Choice Analyzer System is a push-button tool that measures viewers' second-by-second responses. It has been used to develop television programming, measure reaction to political debates and candidates and even choose a TV news anchor.

Using Technology to Fine Tune Political Communication (02:24)

The Consumer Choice Analyzer System, a push-button tool that measures viewers' second-by-second responses, was used to improve Ronald Reagan's performance by tracking acceptance and rejection of specific words and ideas.

Using Product Marketing Techniques to Get Votes (04:54)

A glimpse into a political focus group demonstrates how pollsters focus on fears and emotions to determine what political issues voters will respond to.

Contrived Controversy: How Dukakis Lost 1988 Presidential Election (06:56)

Successful pollsters enabled Presidential candidate George Bush to divert voter attention from identified issues by making an issue of Dukakis' veto of legislation requiring public school teachers to lead pupils in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Love and the Family: Emotional Values as Marketing Symbols (03:38)

Ad Week's Barbara Lippert comments on financial services marketing and the ways television has contributed to a politically passive society. Our basic belief in family and that "life will go on" is used to sell services and politicians as "part of the family," without addressing real issues.

Comparative vs. Negative Advertising (01:57)

Journalism Professor Ralph Whitehead discusses negative advertising in politics and its conspicuous absence, and potential power, in consumer markets. Barbara Lippert comments on the impact of buying the wrong toothpaste versus buying the wrong candidate.

Nielsen: the Most Important Poll in America (05:48)

Television has changed the way political campaigns are conducted. Viewer responses translate to votes and political messages are carefully packaged and presented in order to accomplish this.

Emotion as a Measurement of Presidential Leadership (02:09)

President Bush presented an image of a man in touch with his feelings. In this way, he maintained the support of the nation within whom these feelings "resonated." Moyers comments that this is not how we should converse with our leaders.

Restructuring Political Conversation (05:54)

New York Times journalist R.W. Apple runs a focus group that shows the intelligence and complexity of opinion that emerges when voters are not required to choose between options, but can express their own views. Some Americans have given up on the political process; are we content to "feel good?"

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Leading Questions

Part of the Series : The Public Mind
DVD Price: $99.95
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This program examines the power of professional pollsters to influence public opinion. Public opinion pollsters and market researchers serve virtually every facet of American culture. Nearly everyone—from the makers of cake mix to television executives and candidates for public office—seeks to become the intimate of our private opinions for the purposes of their own strategies. In the hands of campaign consultants, the sophisticated techniques of market research become tools of political persuasion and "leaders" wind up finding out what we think, so they can tell us what they think is what we think, too. "If the toothpaste doesn’t live up to your dreams, you are out a dollar fifty-seven," notes one observer. "With political candidates, the stakes are much higher." (60 minutes)

Length: 59 minutes

Item#: BVL4933

ISBN: 978-1-4213-9848-8

Copyright date: ©1989

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.