General Social Survey, 1972-2012 [Cumulative File] (ICPSR 34802)

Published: Sep 11, 2013

Principal Investigator(s):
Tom W. Smith, National Opinion Research Center; Michael Hout, National Opinion Research Center; Peter V. Marsden, National Opinion Research Center


Version V1

The General Social Surveys (GSS) were designed as part of a data diffusion project in 1972. The GSS replicated questionnaire items and wording in order to facilitate time-trend studies. The latest survey, GSS 2012, includes a cumulative file that merges all 29 General Social Surveys into a single file containing data from 1972 to 2012. The items appearing in the surveys are one of three types: Permanent questions that occur on each survey, rotating questions that appear on two out of every three surveys (1973, 1974, and 1976, or 1973, 1975, and 1976), and a few occasional questions such as split ballot experiments that occur in a single survey. The 2012 surveys included seven topic modules: Jewish identity, generosity, workplace violence, science, skin tone, and modules for experimental and miscellaneous questions. The International Social Survey Program (ISSP) module included in the 2012 survey was gender. The data also contain several variables describing the demographic characteristics of the respondents.

Smith, Tom W., Hout, Michael, and Marsden, Peter V. General Social Survey, 1972-2012 [Cumulative File]. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2013-09-11.

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National Science Foundation

abortion Affirmative Action agriculture AIDS alcohol altruism birth control business capital punishment children citizenship civil rights communism community participation compensation computer use corporations courts crime democracy dissent divorce drug use economic issues employment environment environmental attitudes environmental protection ethnicity euthanasia expenditures families foreign affairs freedom gender gender issues gender roles government health housing human rights hunting immigration income industry Jews labor unions marijuana marriage media coverage mental health military draft military service national identity occupations parents patients physicians police politics poverty prejudice privacy race relations racial attitudes religion school prayer science sexual behavior sexual preference smoking social classes social inequality social mobility social networks Social Security sports suicide taxes technology television terminal illnesses terrorism tobacco use unemployment welfare services work workplace violence

census region

1972 -- 2012

1972 -- 1978








1982 -- 1991






Please note that NORC may have updated the General Social Survey data files. Additional information regarding the General Social Surveys can be found at the General Social Survey (GSS) Web site.

For sampling information, please see Appendix A of the ICPSR Codebook.

All noninstitutionalized, English and Spanish speaking persons 18 years of age or older, living in the United States.


survey data

computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI)

face-to-face interview

telephone interview



2013-09-11 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:

  • Created online analysis version with question text.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Due to the number of weights and various uses for them, users should refer to Appendix A of the ICPSR Codebook.


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

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