Quality of American Life, 1978 (ICPSR 7762)

Published: Feb 16, 1992 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
Angus Campbell; Philip E. Converse


Version V1

This dataset is a continuation of one created seven years earlier, QUALITY OF AMERICAN LIFE, 1971 (ICPSR 3508). In the 1978 study, a national sample was drawn that included many respondents from the 1971 study. The purpose of the study was to survey Americans about their perceived quality of life by measuring their perceptions of their socio-psychological condition, their needs and expectations from life, and the degree to which those needs were satisfied. The data, similar in scope and content of that in the 1971 survey, were collected via personal interviews from a nationwide probability sample of 3,692 persons 18 years of age and older during the summer of 1978. Closed and open-ended questions were used to probe respondents' satisfactions, dissatisfactions, aspirations, and disappointments in a variety of life domains, such as dwelling/neighborhood, local services (e.g., police, roads, and schools), public transportation, present personal life, life in the United States, education, occupation, job history/expectation, work life, housework, leisure activities, organizational affiliations, religious affiliation, health problems, financial situation, marriage (including widowhood, divorce, and separation), children/family life, and relationships with family and friends. In addition to broad questions about satisfaction with each of these domains and their importance to the respondents, specific sources of gratification and frustration were explored. Other questions focused on life as a whole and about the extent to which respondents felt they had control over their lives (e.g., rating of various aspects of life, (dis)satisfaction with life, personal efficacy, and social desirability measures). A major difference between this study and the earlier study is that the 1978 respondents were asked more detailed questions concerning their perceived financial status relative to their family, friends, and past personal financial status. Personal data include sex, age, race, ethnic background, childhood family stability, military service, and father's occupation and education. Observational data are included on housing and neighborhood characteristics as well as respondents' appearance, intelligence, and sincerity.

Campbell, Angus, and Converse, Philip E. Quality of American Life, 1978. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1992-02-16. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR07762.v1

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National Science Foundation
1978-06 -- 1978-08

Some inconsistencies (primarily in the series of variables concerning the events from 1973-1978) still exist. When checked, it was found that these inconsistencies accurately reflected the information given by the respondents.

A national multistage area probability sampling of 3,692 persons (weighted to 9,561) was used. Two independently chosen samples were combined to form the total sample: (1) a sample of 761 segments (clusters of approximately four housing units) selected at the overall rate of 1 in 22,250 for the 1971 Quality of Life sample, and (2) a new sample of 549 segments (clusters of approximately four housing units) selected at the overall rate of 1 in 35,490 for the 1978 Quality of Life sample. The combined samples include approximately 4,870 households (occupied housing units). Even though each of the two samples is located in 74 primary areas, they are not in all cases the same 74 areas. In 1971 the SMSA definitions and population counts that determined selection probabilities were those reported for the 1960 Census. In 1972 the sample of primary areas was revised to incorporate 1970 SMSA definitions and population counts. Nine of the 1971 sample points were dropped and nine others added in the revision process. The 1978 household sample was selected from the revised primary area sample. When the two samples (1971 and 1978) are combined, there are 83 different sample points located in 37 states and Washington DC. First stage stratification of SMSAs and counties was carried out independently within each of the four major geographical regions -- Northeast, North Central, South and West -- each of which received representation in proportion to population.

Persons aged 18 years of age or older living within the conterminous United States, exclusive of households on military reservations.

personal interviews

observational data, survey data



2018-02-15 The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented. The previous citation was:
  • Campbell, Angus, and Philip E. Converse. QUALITY OF AMERICAN LIFE, 1978. Conducted by University of Michigan, Survey Research Center. ICPSR07762-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [producer and distributor], 1984. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR07762.v1

1984-05-10 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions.

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.
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