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Faith Matters Survey, 2006 (ICPSR 36315)

Principal Investigator(s): Putnam, Robert D., Harvard University; Campbell, David E., University of Notre Dame


The Faith Matters (FM) Survey was conducted on behalf of Harvard University by International Communications Research in the summer of 2006. The national survey interviewed approximately 3,100 respondents in an hour-long phone survey both about their religion (beliefs, belongings and behavior) and their social and political engagement. The 2006 Faith Matters Survey provides the bulk of the data in the book American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites us by Campbell and Putnam. Wherever possible the Faith Matters Survey replicated questions asked in other surveys, enabling the research team to validate findings with different sources of data (including the General Social Survey and the National Election Studies). Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish. To ensure the accuracy of the Spanish translation, the team had the survey backward-translated into English after completion. When asked if they would like to participate in the survey, respondents were not told that it was a study about religion. Instead, interviewers introduced themselves and said that the survey was being conducted on behalf of researchers at Harvard and Notre Dame, and that it was "on some current events". Demographic variables in this study include age, gender, education, household income, ethnicity, political ideology, and citizenship.

Access Notes

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Study Description


Putnam, Robert D., and David E. Campbell. Faith Matters Survey, 2006. ICPSR36315-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2016-03-22.

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This study was funded by:

  • John Templeton Foundation

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    community participation, political advertising, political attitudes, political organizations, religious affiliation, religious behavior, religious beliefs, religious denominations

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 2006-06--2006-08

Date of Collection:   

  • 2006-06--2006-08

Unit of Observation:    Individual

Universe:    Adults in the United States aged eighteen years or older.

Data Type(s):    survey data


Study Purpose:    The purpose of the study was to provide precise measurements of religious belief and behavior to help determine their relative stability among different sub-populations and as compared to non religious beliefs and behaviors.

Study Design:    The study conducted phone based interviews in English and Spanish. Respondents were offered $25 for completing the survey which, on average took between 45 minutes and an hour to complete. Respondents were told they were being surveyed "on some current events."

Sample:    A random-digit dial (RDD) sample was used to achieve a national cross-section of respondents.

Time Method:    Cross-sectional

Weight:    The data are weighted by gender, age, race, region, and education. Counts for the weights were obtained through the 2005 U.S. Census Current Population Survey, March Supplement. The name of this study's weighting variable is "weight".

Mode of Data Collection:    telephone interview

Description of Variables:    The data set includes variables about demographics, religious beliefs, belongings, behavior, and social and political engagement.

Response Rates:    The response rate for the survey was 53 percent.

Extent of Processing:   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.
  • Created variable labels and/or value labels.
  • Standardized missing values.
  • Created online analysis version with question text.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   2016-03-22



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