Prof. Rumyana Stoilova, President of BAS, on Bulgarian National Radio on the topic “How sociological agencies can change attitudes to voting and how to recognize manipulations”

Prof. Rumyana Stoilova, President of BAS, on Bulgarian National Radio on the topic “How sociological agencies can change attitudes to voting and how to recognize manipulations”

The Bulgarian Sociological Association works to increase the trust in the accuracy and reliability of the sociological results, as well as to increase the ability for informed choice of the citizens, which will be based on reliable and valid information and forecast. Civic education is the way to destroy the huge machine of censorship, stereotyping and dramatization of the situation, writes Walter Lipman in his book Public Opinion. And that means:

  • To build the habit of researching the sources of information used;
  • To recall how the same source predicted the outcome of the electoral behavior of the citizens;
  • To adhere to an objective, rational approach, to seek knowledge based on scientific facts – verifiable and reproducible;
  • To adopt the scientific method in searching for and using the results of polls for electoral attitudes.

The Code of Ethics of BAS, adopted in 2004, sets requirements for the communication of research data in the media. According to Art. 14. (4) When disseminating data from sociological surveys, information about the research methods and the sources of information shall always be provided in accordance with the requirements established in the sociological community. Upon completion of the study, the primary individual information is available for control of its methodological validity by the professional community.

In the Electoral Code,  Art. 205, it is written that the communication of the results of consultations on the electoral attitudes must contain “information about the assignor of the consultation or research, about the organization that conducted the consultation or research, and about the sources of its financing”.

It is good for citizens to monitor a few critical indicators that agencies tend to report incorrectly or omit at all. It is key to know who sponsored the study. A study costs a lot, it is an investment, so this factor is indicative. It is important for citizens to be aware which media publishes a survey results.

According to a study by a colleague from UNWE – Chief Assistant Dr. Marieta Hristova, there is unspecified funding in one or two of a total of more than 30 surveys for each of the elections in 2021. However, over half of the surveys indicate “own funding”. Citizens need to be extra careful when they see this information. Although not illegal, this indication may also be a refusal to disclose the actual source of funding.

When reading survey results, it is important whether it is representative and how respondents are selected. Dr. Hristova’s research notes that over half of the surveys conducted in 2021 lack information on representativeness, and only representative surveys make it possible to actually talk about all voters in Bulgaria who have the right to vote. Lack of information on whether the study is representative is a risky point. It is particularly risky when it is related to the requirement to report the margin of error. Indicating the probable error is important so that we know how to interpret results with minimal differences. In order for the information used to be reliable, it is good to monitor the results of several agencies, the deviations between them and the validity of their past electoral forecasts.

November 8, 2021

About the author

bsa administrator

Leave a Reply