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Ronald F. Inglehart photo

United States Participation in the 2010-12 World Values Survey

a PSC Research Project

Investigator:   Ronald F. Inglehart

This proposal seeks funding to cover fieldwork for the U.S. component of the 6th wave of the World Values Survey (WVS) and to add a battery of questions concerning public attitudes toward science and technology to this survey, which will be carried out in more than 60 countries on all six inhabited continents. This will make it possible to include the U.S. in the 6th wave of a worldwide investigation that will, with the current study, have a 30-year time series covering the full range of cross-national variation, from very poor to very rich countries, having institutions ranging from the most authoritarian regimes to the most liberal democracies, and covering all of the world’s major cultural zones. Without this support, the United States would be excluded for the first time in the three-decade history of the WVS.

The World Values Survey (WVS) provides the only source of data on mass values and attitudes from countries containing a majority (in fact, almost 90 percent) of the world’s population. The first five waves of research have identified major dimensions of cross-cultural variation, and found that many basic values, beliefs and goals are undergoing substantial and coherent changes over time. The fact that the WVS provides data from scores of countries gives it exceptional leverage for analyzing the social consequences of changing values: it makes it possible to carry out cross-level analyses, (1) examining the impact of economic and technological change on people’s values; and (2) analyzing the impact of individual-level values and beliefs on societal-level phenomena such as the extent to which a society has gender equality in political, social and economic life; or the extent to which it has democratic institutions.

This project will continue to measure mass attitudes toward science and technology, using batteries of items that have been tested and validated in research sponsored by the NSF during the past two decades and expanding and modifying these items based on Miller and Inglehart’s analyses (Miller and Inglehart, 2010). Current controversy over such topics as stem cell research and genetically modified crops makes it clear that these attitudes have important societal implications. Their inclusion in the new wave of surveys will strengthen the role of the WVS in measuring and analyzing the human component of social change.

From its inception, the WVS has made all of its data available interested scholars freely and without restriction. Data from previous waves of the WVS have been analyzed by thousands of users in more than 100 countries. We expect that the new wave of data, providing an even longer time series, will be used even more widely. The WVS surveys will be completed by December 31, 2011. Immediately after they have been collected, the data from these surveys will be analyzed by the principal investigators in this proposal, and by social scientists in scores of other countries participating in the WVS global network. The data will be released to all other users by December 31, 2013.

Funding Period: 04/15/2011 to 03/31/2012

Country of Focus: USA

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