Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Cool Research Link: Attitudes Online

Want to know how many are against the death penalty for murder, how Americans feel about banning the Bible in public schools, or whether Americans think homosexuals should be allowed to teach at the nation's colleges? Now you can find out by delving into the National Opinion Research Center's highly respected General Social Survey (GSS) online. This survey, fielded every two years, has been collecting attitudinal data since 1972.

Until now, tapping into GSS results has been difficult, limited to academic researchers with the expertise to run statistical programs to unlock the database. To the rescue comes the Computer Assisted Survey Methods Program at the University of California, Berkeley, creating web-based programs for analysis of survey data. Its online application allows you to choose a GSS question and get an answer in table and chart format. You can explore attitudes and how they have changed from as far back as 1972 up to 2004. You can also explore attitudes by demographic segment, including gender, age, race, and political party.

How many Americans are against the death penalty for murder? Thirty-two percent in 2004, up from 21 percent in 1990. Only 36 percent of Americans want to ban the Bible in public schools, but among college graduates the 51 percent majority thinks the Bible should be banned. And 65 percent of Americans think it's OK for homosexuals to teach at the nation's colleges and universities—up from 53 percent thirty years ago.

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