World Values Survey: User Guide

World Values Survey: User Guide


     A voluntary network of sociological researchers, the WVS compiles data from detailed questionnaires (approximately 250 questions) administered in person to a sample population (minimum 1,000) from more than 80 societies worldwide.  Questions cover political, social, religious, and economic values, as well as family bonds, gender norms, and personal well-being.
     The first WVS was conducted in 1981-84 as an expansion of the European Values Survey.  Since then there have been four additional "waves"--1990-94, 1995-1998, 2000-04, and 2005-08.  Each wave has broadened the project's international scope, and currently societies constituting 85% of the global population participate.  This allows for cross-cultural comparisons over time, testing the Survey's hypothesis that economic and technological changes reshape basic values.
     Two years after each round of fieldwork, the data is published for public use at the WVS Web site.

Using WVS: The Basics

Step 1

     On the home page click "Online Data Analysis."

Step 2

     At the bottom of the Data Analysis screen "click  to access the online analysis module now."

Step 3

     The data from the most recent 2005-2008 wave is not yet part of the "aggregate" of the the previous four waves and must be viewed separately.  Side-by-side comparisons of countries can be performed in both.

Step 4

     If you choose the "four-wave aggregate," you begin by selecting survey data by country and date.  From the scroll-down menu you can choose one or more countries and, for each, one or more dates.  Note: available dates depend on when a country joined the survey.

Step 5

     For example, you might choose to compare data from India, Sweden, and the United States for 1999-2001:

     Note: you could choose multiple dates for each.
     After you have made your selections, click the button at the top.

Step 6

     Confirming your country selections opens the "Question Index": a set of 250 questions categorized under the thematic headings of "Perceptions of Life," "Environment," "Work," "Family," "Politics and Society," Religion and Morale," and "National Identity."  (At the bottom there is also a "Structure and Metadata" category that reports on the conditions under which the survey was administered, as well as a "Socio-Demographics" category that provides basic data about the respondents--age, sex, occupation, education, etc.)
     To look at the reponse data for the countries and dates you selected, simply click on a question--for example, "Religion important in life."

Step 7

     Clicking a question opens the full text:

     For a side-by-side comparison of how your selected countries responded to this question, click on the tab at the top labeled "Cross-tabs."

     A quick scan of the numbers reveals a marked difference between Sweden, where only 10% described religion as "very important," and the U.S. and India where an identical 57% chose that response.  (Note: Questions are standardized, but whether they are asked in a survey can vary by country, sometimes resulting in a column of zeros.)

Step 8

     The default "variable" is the side-by-side comparison by country, but note that you can change variable or add a second:

     For example, if you choose to add "age-respondent" as a second variable, responses are displayed by country and age cohort:

Note: These three tables are arranged vertically here for space reasons, but appear side-by-side in WVS.

Step 9

     Finally, by opening the "Graphs" tab at the top right you can display statistics in a variety of bar graphs or pie charts:

Step 10

     The preceding steps will allow you to mine data from the WVS Web site, but you will find--and should explore--additional retrieval and display options. 
To begin:
World Values Suvey.

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Picture: Brian Saunders
Humanities Librarian
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