The Research Project – Week Seven, Connecticut Connections

Ever wonder about the latest public opinions on a particular topic? Ever wonder what previous generations thought about a particular topic? Ever wonder what happens to all the public opinion research results after they have been published? If so, then the Roper Center at the University of Connecticut is for you.

As it says on their web site, the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research is one of the world’s leading archives of social science data, specializing in data from public opinion surveys.

The Center’s mission is to collect, preserve, and disseminate public opinion data; to serve as a resource to help improve the practice of survey research; and to broaden the understanding of public opinion through the use of survey data in the United States and abroad. Founded in 1947, the Roper Center holds data ranging from the 1930s, when survey research was in its infancy, to the present. Its collection now includes over 22,000 datasets and adds hundreds more each year. In total, the archive contains responses from millions of individuals on a vast range of topics.

So I started browsing through the database and found a poll done in 1962 of American women. The poll asked quite a variety of questions from how much time they spend watching television to their religious beliefs to how interested they are in politics. One of the questions seemed very modern: “What would you think of a woman as president?”

Public opinion polls are so common today but they’ve only been around since the 1930’s. What did people ever do without them since so many people just seem to base their beliefs on what the latest opinion polls say?

The web address for the Roper Center is:  http://www.ropercenter.uconn.edu/. There is a lot you can research for free at the web site but if you want full access to their databases you have to become a member and pay a fee.

Another good place to go for fact and figures is:  http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml

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