Most existing evidence suggests that accuracy in perceptions of political preferences within communication networks is reasonably high, but closer examination suggests this may not be true. Perceptions may be accurate, inaccurate, or respondents may offer no perceptions to evaluate for accuracy due to uncertainty. We re-analyze data from several published studies to evaluate whether different treatments of “don’t know” (DK) and similar ambiguous responses matters when evaluating accuracy levels. It does, sometimes leading to dramatically altered conclusions regarding accuracy. We also reanalyze recent data to evaluate the individual and group-level factors (with an emphasis on communication and homophily) that lead to such DK responses, and consider the implications of the treatment of DK responses for inferences about the role of communication in producing truly accurate perceptions.
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