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Participation in surveys and trust in data

Compared to 2020, the willingness to participate in surveys has not changed at the moment. Respondents are still more willing to take part in a personal interview (rather than a phone survey). The level of confidence in the survey results remained at the same level: about half of the respondents (54%) trust the data.

Recently (since the beginning of the “special military operation”), the topic of the willingness of the population to participate in opinion polls has been actively discussed in the professional sociological community. In particular, hypotheses are put forward that the share of refusals to participate has increased significantly, potential respondents are afraid to participate, etc.

In September 2020, as part of a monthly study that took place according to the methodology of an door-to-door survey (in the format of a personal interview) for an All-Russian representative sample of 1,605 people aged 18+ (more information about the methodology can be found on the website page), respondents were asked questions about their willingness to participate in public opinion polls. In April 2022 (in a study using the same methodology), similar questions were asked to test the hypothesis – whether respondents who are more “loyal” to surveys are actually becoming survey participants at the moment.

The results show that the willingness to participate in surveys has not changed at the moment. As in 2020, the majority of respondents are rather skeptical about participating in surveys: 58% of the study participants indicated that they do not participate in any surveys, and their participation in the study is rather an exception (“disloyal respondents”), the share of more “loyal respondents” has not changed (39%).

As in the previous measurement, it is possible to fix the relationship of “loyalty” with the age of respondents, with increasing age, the share of “disloyal” to surveys increases (if in the age group 18-24 they are 51%, then in 55 and older – 65%). At the same time, “loyalty” to participation in surveys is not related to the gender, education, political views of respondents and support for the actions of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine.

Compared to 2020, the willingness to participate, depending on the survey method, has also not changed much. Respondents are more willing to take part in a personal interview format (44% home/street survey) than by phone (20%).

The level of trust in the results of polls (on political topics) remained at the same level: about half of respondents (54%) trust the data, as it was in 2020 (50%). 34% are distrustful of the results of such surveys (41% in 2020).

This indicator is associated with the approval of the President’s activities and with support for the actions of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine. Among those who approve of the president’s activities, 60% trust the data of polls on political topics, among those who disapprove of the activities, only 30% trust it. Among those who support the actions of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine, 60% trust the data of polls on political topics, among those who do not support – 42%.

In addition, respondents were asked questions from a 2012 study to track whether Russians’ perceptions of polls have changed over the past 10 years. For example, the majority of respondents who took part in the study (77%) agree that surveys provide an opportunity for ordinary people to express their opinions on various topics, and this proportion has not changed much compared to previous data (in 2012 – 81%). The share of those who agree with the fact that the majority of Russians do not understand the purpose of public opinion polls is still quite high (70%, in 2012 – 63%).

Over the past 10 years, the share of those who believe that the results of surveys should not be trusted, since they are conducted in the interests of those who finance them, has grown significantly (from 31% to 42%). This skeptical attitude to data has become noticeably more common among representatives of older groups of the population (47%), compared with young people (27%).

As well as trust in the data of polls on political topics, agreement with such a position is associated with the political views of respondents. The share of those who agree with it is higher among those who disapprove of the president’s activities (54%), believes that the country is moving on the wrong path (50%).

Even more noticeable is the difference between respondents with different political views on the fear of expressing their opinion. If, in general, 56% of respondents believe that the majority of Russians are now afraid to express their position in polls, then among those who disapprove of the activities of the country’s leadership, this share reaches 75%, among those who believe that the country is moving on the wrong path – 71%, and among those who do not support the actions Russian armed forces in Ukraine – 67%. Thus, the overwhelming majority of respondents who criticize the policy are distrustful of the published data and tend to explain the results of the polls by the fact that most Russians are now afraid to express their opinion.

METHODOLOGY

The survey by the Levada Center was conducted April 21 – 27 2022, among a representative sample of all Russian urban and rural residents. The sample was comprised of 1616 people aged 18 or older in 137 municipalities of 50 regions of the Russian Federation. The survey was conducted as a personal interview in respondents’ homes. The answer distribution is presented as percentages of the total number of participants along with data from previous surveys.

The statistical error of these studies for a sample of 1600 people (with a probability of 0.95) does not exceed:

3.4% for indicators around 50%

2.9% for indicators around 25%/75%

2.0% for indicators around 10%/90%

1.5% for indicators around 5%/95%

The ANO Levada Center is included in the registry of non-commercial organizations acting as foreign agents.

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