General Social Survey, 1972-2014 [Cumulative File] (ICPSR 36319)

Published: Mar 14, 2016

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


Version V2

Since 1972, the General Social Survey (GSS) has been monitoring societal change and studying the growing complexity of American society. The GSS aims to gather data on contemporary American society in order to monitor and explain trends and constants in attitudes, behaviors, and attributes; to examine the structure and functioning of society in general as well as the role played by relevant subgroups; to compare the United States to other societies in order to place American society in comparative perspective and develop cross-national models of human society; and to make high-quality data easily accessible to scholars, students, policy makers, and others, with minimal cost and waiting. GSS questions include such items as national spending priorities, marijuana use, crime and punishment, race relations, quality of life, and confidence in institutions. Since 1988, the GSS has also collected data on sexual behavior including number of sex partners, frequency of intercourse, extramarital relationships, and sex with prostitutes. The 2014 GSS has modules on quality of working life, shared capitalism, wealth, work and family balance, social identity, social isolation, and civic participation. In 1985 the GSS co-founded the International Social Survey Program (ISSP). The ISSP has conducted an annual cross-national survey each year since then and has involved 58 countries and interviewed over one million respondents. The ISSP asks an identical battery of questions in all countries; the U.S. version of these questions is incorporated into the GSS. The 2014 ISSP topics are National Identity and Citizenship. Demographic variables include age, gender, race, ethnicity, education, marital status, religion, employment status, income, household structure, and whether respondents were born in the United States.

Smith, Tom W., Hout, Michael, and Marsden, Peter V. General Social Survey, 1972-2014 [Cumulative File]. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2016-03-14.

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National Science Foundation

abortion Affirmative Action agriculture AIDS alcohol altruism birth control business capital punishment capitalism children citizenship civic engagement 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 family life 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 identity social inequality social isolation social mobility social networks Social Security sports suicide taxes technology television terminal illnesses terrorism unemployment wealth welfare services work workplace violence

census region

1972 -- 2014

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) website.

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

Longitudinal: Trend / Repeated Cross-section

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



2016-02-05 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:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

2016-03-14 The collection documentation and online data analysis (SDA) have been updated with question text.

Due to the number of weights and the 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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