NORC Celebrates 50 Years Of The General Social Survey

CHICAGO, April 19, 2022 – This year, NORC at the University of Chicago is celebrating 50 years of the General Social Survey (GSS). As NORC’s longest-running research project, the GSS provides the nation and the world with a clear, unbiased perspective on the attitudes, behaviors, and attributes of the American public. To mark the anniversary, NORC will release research projects, hold events, present at leading conferences, and provide other offerings throughout the year.

Since 1972, the GSS has been one of the nation’s most widely used sources of data on American society. Every two years, NORC uses the GSS to gather the opinions of American adults on more than 500 different issues, including government-spending priorities, crime and punishment, and confidence in institutions. The findings inform public policy, scholarly research, and media coverage.

“The GSS helps scholars, journalists, and students conduct in-depth analyses of the American public, assists policymakers in crafting legislation and regulations that align with public sentiment, and informs media coverage on a host of topics every day,” said René Bautista, director of the GSS and associate director in the Methodology & Quantitative Social Science department at NORC at the University of Chicago. “The GSS is the gold standard of unbiased social science research and, as such, is one of the most widely analyzed and trusted source of social science information.”

To make GSS data more quickly and easily available to the widest possible audience, NORC launched the GSS Data Explorer in April 2015. Academics, journalists, policymakers, and teachers across the country can use the Data Explorer to search and analyze data, and easily share their findings, with an interested public.

To date, GSS data and the Data Explorer have been the basis of more than 32,500 scholarly papers, books, and PhD dissertations and, each year, are used by more than 400,000 students in classrooms across the U.S.

“The GSS Data Explorer makes it easier for a diverse community of researchers, students, journalists, and others to investigate topics and trends that interest them, thereby advancing the collective understanding of what opinions, behaviors, and characteristics combine to make up the American populace,” said Michael Davern, executive vice president of research, NORC at the University of Chicago. “We are excited to see how and who uses GSS data and the potentially groundbreaking discoveries they can yield.”

The National Science Foundation and the Russell Sage Foundation first funded the GSS in 1972, with the former continuing to be the survey’s primary funder. The GSS is the most cited source of longitudinal data on American attitudes and opinions, second only to the U.S. Census. Recent rounds of the GSS have included questions on national priorities, religious and racial identity, work-life balance, participation in the arts, gay marriage, and social isolation.

To learn more about the activities around the GSS’s 50th year, visit www.gss.norc.org.   

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About the General Social Survey
Since 1972, NORC’s General Social Survey (GSS) has been one of the nation’s most rigorous and widely used sources of data on what Americans think and feel about important national issues such as government spending priorities, crime and punishment, intergroup relations, and confidence in institutions. In addition to informing countless news articles, GSS data have been the basis of more than 32,500 books, scholarly papers, and PhD dissertations over its 50-year history. It is used by more than 400,000 students in their classes each year. The General Social Survey is a project of NORC with principal funding provided by the National Science Foundation.

Contact: For more information, contact Eric Young for NORC at young-eric@norc.org or (703) 217-6814 (cell).