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Survey of Consumer Attitudes and Behavior Series

Investigator(s):University of Michigan. Survey Research Center. Economic Behavior Program

The Survey of Consumer Attitudes and Behavior (also know as the Surveys of Consumers) were initiated in the late 1940s by the Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research, under the direction of George Katona and have been carried out quarterly through 1977 and monthly thereafter. The purpose of these surveys is to measure changes in consumer attitudes and expectations, to understand why these changes occur, to evaluate how they relate to consumer decisions to save, borrow, or make discretionary purchases, and to forecast changes in aggregate consumer behavior. Changes in consumers' willingness to buy are best assessed by making use of the answers to all questions asked in the surveys, especially the open-ended questions that probe underlying reasons. Nevertheless, in order to make available a summary measure of change in consumer sentiment, the Survey Research Center uses the answers to selected questions to calculate an Index of Consumer Sentiment. Each survey also probes a different aspect of consumer confidence. The surveys use a national sample of dwelling units selected by area probability sampling that is representative of the adult population of the United States.