Themed Survey #1: Climate Change & Government Policy (= 400)

This survey was limited to Oregon, completed in April 2008. PolicyInteractive surveyed Oregonians to compare local public opinion with national polls, affirming a lack of climate policy support. Among other interesting findings, this survey showed Oregonians view climate change less threateningly than the nation as a whole and that over 87% of respondents agree “our country would be better off if we all consumed less.” This survey used a select set of values indicators to obtain a more nuanced snapshot of social characterizations typically captured with traditional demographic measures. Demographics showed accurate representation of statewide population for: citizens 18 and older, gender, and geographic representation.

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Themed Survey #2: Fuel, Energy Costs & Government Policy (N = 400)

This survey was limited to Oregon, completed in June 2008 as the price of gas was rising past $3.50 per gallon. The purpose was to put fuel anxiety issues in context with other social concerns, including climate change. This survey revealed Oregonian’s attachment to inexpensive energy, affirmed our earlier “values” findings, and added detail to earlier findings on Oregonian’s views of consumption.

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Themed Survey #3a: Qualitative Interviews on Consumption with Prior Respondents (N = 34)

This survey was designed to obtain detailed open-ended views from a specific group of Oregonians who were sorted as being unconcerned about climate change while also being concerned about overconsumption. These respondents were screened for: (a) don’t think climate change is a concern; (b) think environmentalists are extremists; (c) believe “Our country would be a better place if we all consumed less”; (d) chose “This economic downturn may be just what we need to reorder our values” over “This economic downturn means our leaders should do everything necessary to stimulate the economy” and (e) had previously given permission within a random call for a follow-up interview. Respondent file analysis clearly suggested these interviewees fit into the conventional political “conservative” definition. From a pool of 85 respondents, four research-trained interviewers made a total of 34 follow-up interviews to ask these individuals their views on what they meant by “consume less,” if they themselves should consume less and/or how, what values they think need to be reordered, and a cluster of related items about economic, environmental and social policy issues. Responses were recorded and transcribed into a synoptic format. Results showed a surprising degree of social commonality below the conventional ideological veneer. Analysis indicates possible openings to frame consumption (hence GHG emissions) in non-ideologically reactive terms.

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Themed Survey #3b: Qualitative Interviews on Consumption with Selected Influentials (N = 30)

This study involved an interview process similar to the format described in #3a, but consisted of an Oregonian respondent group of 30 community leaders, cultural “influentials,” or “elites” who typically interact with broad groups of the community. These respondents were selected as likely to have conversations with at least 200 citizens per year on social or policy issues. They were chosen based on how they fit among the cultural sectors of politics, commerce, religion, and academics and across the ideological spectrum. The intent was to compare responses between the elite class and the Oregon-wide representative samples. Findings suggest a comparable concern and level of agreement regarding consumption as seen in Oregon-wide sampling, but with a higher level of stated concern for climate issues and sensitivity to economic security.

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Themed Survey #4: Role of Government & Taxation (N = 402)

This poll sought Oregonian’s public perceptions of the role of government, and explored in more detail some earlier survey findings. This survey included a values question set developed over several decades by Cultural Dynamics Market Research in the U.K., which is tied to Abraham Maslow’s theory of behavior motivation. This survey was fielded for 10 days, completed November 30, 2008. Analysis of this survey is in process although top-lines and first cut analysis is in a synoptic format. Results affirm some earlier findings on consumption and provide insight as to how Oregonian values differ from the nation.

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Themed Survey #5: Economic Downturn & Values (N = 406)

This Oregon survey probes deeper into perceptions of the economic decline and views of consumption. Digging deeper into values and beliefs, two additional values instruments were added, drawn from Yale Cultural cognition Project and Moral Foundations theory of the Jonathan Haidt’s Moral Dimensions. This survey fielded for 11 days, and was completed April 22, 2009, with continued testing of beliefs around consumption, including more oppositional statements and countervailing rationales. Findings revealed continued strong disposition to consume less, broadened data of personal views of consumption and the role individuals play in larger society, and the relationship of these views to social values.

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Themed Survey #6: Consumption & Happiness (N = 403)

Survey 6 on consumption and well-being, completed in December 2009, continues the exploration of the consumption disposition. Expanding on our values research, we borrowed question items based on forty years of world-wide research from Ron Inglehart and colleagues covering values, materialism, and well-being.

The intent of this survey was to seek more in-depth explanations as to why so many Oregonians believe consuming less would be better for us. As this economic moment is being dubbed the Great Recession, the consume-less disposition has shown some strengthening after several earlier modest declines, with 48% in strong agreement and 82% in total agreement. This survey employed more open ended answers to what such things as “consumption,” “global warming,” and “happiness” mean to them. In a general sense, the results continue to affirm a deeply shared cultural view that consuming less shows significantly greater strength than more economic growth or stimulating consumption. We also began a comparison of the relationship of income, greenhouse gas emissions, and happiness between Oregon, the United States, and three countries with population characteristics similar to Oregon. This analysis shows no correlation between income and subjective well-being, affirming people may truly believe in the adage “money can’t buy happiness.”

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Themed Survey #7: Economy, Environment & Public Policy (N = 400)

Survey 7 on the economy, environment and public policy was conducted between November 30 and December 10, 2010 with 400 Oregonians age 18 and older. This survey departed from the prior five statistical sample surveys, where we drilled deeper into cultural values as they relate to our research into consumption attitudes. Specifically, this survey covers some cultural issues much more generally and broadly, especially cultural views toward the economy and broad views of our political system. Unlike our earlier surveys, we did not use a values theory question battery, opting instead to free up room for more open-ended responses to general questions such as the direction of the country.

Another format change from the prior five was a return to a “forced choice” style of question where a respondent is asked to choose between two potentially difficult pathways that define our cultural direction. This question form uses a pair of statements designed to frame oppositional differences that are cultural dilemmas. A refinement on the commonly used forced choice is that we define what we mean when we ask a respondent if they “feel strongly” enough that they would feel moved to take “some action such as speaking out in public, writing a letter to a newspaper, donating money to an organization or being a key reason for voting for an issue or person.” We believe this question form improves the measurement of extremity of viewpoint as a “behavior” indicator compared to what is commonly available through standard measures of level of agreement where acquiescence (tendency to be agreeable) bias is a well-researched weakness in surveying.

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Ongoing Surveys: Oregon Values Project 2013

This installment of the Oregon Values and Beliefs Project serves multiple purposes. One is to provide the public a snapshot of the beliefs held by regular Oregonians at this point in time and, through comparison to previous studies, to examine how our views on certain topics may be changing. An additional purpose is to provide information to policymakers and interest groups on how Oregonians feel about the most fundamental issues of the day. The political discourse of our state and nation is often driven by assumptions about public attitudes. This project tests the validity of some of these assumptions.

Still another purpose—perhaps most important—of the project is to give voice to the large group of Oregonians who are often not asked their opinions and have no common venue in which to share their views. Randomly contacting all citizens (not just frequent voters) through the telephone and internet allows us to fulfill this aim.

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New American Dream Poll 2014 (= 1821)

What does the “American Dream” mean today? How—and how successfully—are Americans achieving this dream? How has the concept of the “American Dream” shifted over the past 10 years? These questions are at the heart of the Center for a New American Dream‘s 2014 national survey, conducted in partnership with PolicyInteractive.

This survey illustrates the shift in public consciousness around the topic of the American Dream and sheds new light on the topics of advertising, the environment, consumption, and the sharing economy.

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HB3470 Oregon Opinion Survey (= 402)

Randomly-selected registered Oregonian voters completed this opinion survey, which included questions on general political affairs and, more specifically, questions about pending legislation Oregon 2015 House Bill 3470 (HB 3470). Results of this public opinion survey were shared with legislative policymakers, members of the public, and posted on the PolicyInteractive website.

Click here to see Oregon HB 3470 top-lines telephone survey (collected 5.12.15- 5.17.15), a random sample (= 402, Margin of Error = ±4.9%, 95% CI) from Oregon voter registration files. Click here to see survey methodology report.

Trump Voters: Ethnocentric, authoritarian, and disgusted (= 513)

PolicyInteractive surveyed 513 American voters (198 Trump voters, 209 Clinton voters), comparing those who voted for Trump to those who voted for Clinton to see if those who voted for Trump rate higher on authoritarianism, disgust, fear of death, ethnocentrism, intolerance of ambiguity, and/or need for closure. These items were chosen because most Trump-supporters are politically conservative, and political conservatism has been associated with higher levels of these constructs (Jost, et al., 2003).

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Can pro-environmentalists get to zero metric tons? (= 503)

One would predict that people with strong pro-environmental values would have small carbon footprints (defined here as 2-5 or less metric tons per year), but do they actually walk the talk? PolicyInteractive decided to assess the carbon footprints of people with strong pro-environmental values to see how they compare to the carbon footprints of the general public.

Using car travel, air travel, and square footage of home as a proxy for carbon footprint, results showed carbon footprints to be a bit smaller for the pro-environmental sample than for the general public sample, but few pro-environmental participants were even close to having what can be considered a small, sustainable annual carbon footprint.

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Testing Alternative Voting Systems

Some voting experts assert that an alternative voting system, as opposed to the current plurality voting system, would more honestly reflect the will of the people in political elections. Focusing on the presidential election of 2016, PolicyInteractive conducted five sequential studies which together explored the question: would Americans be open to an alternative voting system for presidential elections?

Using electronic mock ballots, participants compared the standard U.S. voting system of plurality voting to three championed alternatives: approval votingrange voting, and instant-runoff voting (IRV). Although a majority of the study participants supported the idea of revamping the current voting system, there was a lack of strong support for the specific alternative voting systems tested in these five studies.

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