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General Social Survey Cumulative File, 1972-1986 (ICPSR 8609)

Principal Investigator(s): Davis, James A.; Smith, Tom W.


The General Social Survey has been conducted by the National Opinion Research Center annually since 1972 except for the years 1979 and 1981. The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research has prepared a cumulative dataset which merges thirteen years of the General Social Survey into a single file, with each year constituting a subfile. The content of each year's survey changes slightly as some items are added to or deleted from the interview schedule. The most notable addition to the 1986 wave of the survey was a group of questions related to the feminization of poverty. Respondents were asked if they had ever received income from various governmental assistance programs or from alimony or child support payments. Attitudes toward welfare were also probed through agreement or disagreement with a series of statements concerning the welfare system. On this same subject, factorial vignettes were conducted in 1986 and are included as a supplemental file to this collection. These vignettes, which describe hypothetical situations presented in brief descriptive passages, required each respondent to evaluate ten different sets of circumstances relating to family life and the need for public assistance. Seven of the vignettes related to the conditions of young families and three pertained to older women. The respondent's task was to determine whether or not the family's income should be augmented with government assistance. Each record in the supplementary file contains all the choices made by a single respondent to all ten vignettes.

Series: General Social Survey Series

Access Notes

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DS1:  Cumulative File, 1972-1986 - Download All Files (28.765 MB)
ASCII + SPSS Setup   
DS2:  Supplemental Vignette File - Download All Files (24.554 MB)
ASCII + SPSS Setup   

Study Description


Davis, James A., and Tom W. Smith. GENERAL SOCIAL SURVEYS, 1972-1986: [CUMULATIVE FILE]. Chicago, IL: National Opinion Research Center [producer], 1986. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1987.

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Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • National Science Foundation

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    abortion, birth control, civil rights, employment, environmental attitudes, families, life cycle, low income groups, morale, morality, political attitudes, older adults, poverty, public assistance programs, quality of life, race relations, racial attitudes, sexual attitudes, sexual behavior, social attitudes, social control, social indicators, social issues, social mobility, socioeconomic status, voting behavior, welfare services, women, work

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1972--1986

Universe:    Total noninstitutionalized English-speaking population of the United States, 18 years of age or older.

Data Type(s):    survey data

Data Collection Notes:

1)This older version of the General Social Survey Cumulative File is being retained because of the unique data available in the Supplemental Vignette File. More recent cumulative data is made available each year under a separate study number. 2)A block of 17 variables out of the 20 in the Vignette File is repeated 10 times per record (respondent), once for each vignette.


Sample:    Modified probability sample with quotas at block level in 1972-1974. One-half block quota and one-half full probability sample in 1975 and 1976. Full probability sample since 1977.

Data Source:

personal interviews


Original ICPSR Release:   1986-11-07

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