How can I use the GSS Data Explorer in my classroom?
The GSS Data Explorer makes it easier than ever to teach research methods, program evaluation, statistics,
or other courses using GSS data. With GSS DE, a professor can create a project, prepopulate the project with
variables, and share the project with the entire class. The ability to review and comment on activities in
a shared project provides an interactive way for professors to engage with and monitor student work. To
learn more about how to set up GSS DE in your classroom, visit this quick,
How do I cite the GSS?
See our citation guidelines
Do I need to consult the GSS codebook?
Yes. The brief variable labels you will find on this site give only a general guide to variable content.
The codebook provides the exact wording of questions in the survey, as well as all possible responses for
each question and the codes assigned to them. The codebook also provides full documentation of other
methodological features of the GSS that users must understand. You'll find the codebook in our
Help and Resources
Do I need to use weights when analyzing GSS data?
The GSS Data Explorer includes the default weight WTSSALL, and allows you to select different weights when you create your analyses and extracts.
If you are using GSS data in your own statistical software program, you must decide for yourself whether and how to use weights but in general you should use WTSSALL. Here are some additional considerations for weighting GSS data:
The 1982 and 1987 GSSs included oversamples of black respondents. To adjust statistical results for this oversampling, one may either exclude cases in the black oversamples (codes 4, 5, and 7 on variable SAMPLE) or weight statistical results using weights in variable OVERSAMP.
From 1975 to 2002 the GSS used full-probability sampling of households designed to give each household an equal probability of being included in the GSS. Hence, for household-level variables the GSS is self-weighting.
Only one adult per household is interviewed, however, so persons living in large households have lower probabilities of selection. For person-level variables, weighting statistical results in proportion to the number of persons aged 18 or over in the household (variable ADULTS) can compensate for this.
Beginning in 2004, the GSS began to use a two-stage sub-sampling design for nonresponse. Cases from which no response has been obtained after the initial stage of the field period are subsampled and resources are focused on gaining cooperation from this subset. Responses from persons in the subsample must subsequently be weighted up in order to represent all of those who had not responded by the time the subsample was drawn. Analysis of data from the 2004 and later GSSs should use weights WTSSALL, WTSS, or WTSSNR.
For additional detail about weights in the GSS, see
Appendix A: Sampling Design & Weighting.
Are all response options for a question asked in every year the variable is available?
Not necessarily. Response options can change over time, with available response options being added to, or taken
away from the survey questionnaire. For this reason, a user should verify the response options in one year, and
compare the same variable across the other years you wish to analyze. This will enable you to assess whether
“Not Applicable”, “Don’t Know”, or other response options are applicable to the analysis you plan to create.
Which items are part of the “GSS core”?
Survey questions in the “GSS replicating core” are regularly administered as part of each GSS. Core items include
background information about respondents (for example: age [AGE], sex [SEX], education [EDUC], region of residence
[REGION]) and measures of attitudes (such as views about gender roles [e.g. FEHOME], confidence in institutions
[e.g. CONFINAN] or gun control [GUNLAW]) or behaviors (such as attendance at religious services [ATTEND] or voting in
the most recent U.S. Presidential election [VOTE68 through VOTE04]). Items are very occasionally added to or removed
from the GSS core. An especially notable number of items were removed from the core after 1994. To see how regularly
any particular GSS item is measured, consult codebook
Appendix U: Variable Use by Year/Ballot.
What happened to information on race after 2000?
Until 2000, the GSS measured race mostly by interviewer observation (variableRACE), using categories of white,
black, and other. If in doubt about how to code a respondent’s race, interviewers asked the respondent “what
race do you consider yourself?” Beginning in 2002, the GSS measured race following the procedures used in the
decennial Census, asking all respondents for a racial self-identification and recording up to three mentions.
These data are in variables RACECEN1, RACECEN2, and RACECEN3 (The same questions also were asked as part of
the “Multi-Ethnic United States” topical module administered to one of the two samples in the 2000 GSS).
Does the GSS data set include geocoded information?
The public use files available on this site and in other archives do not include any geocoded data.
However, GSS geographic identification code files are made available to researchers under special contract
with NORC. The GSS takes its promise of anonymity to its respondents very seriously and this is the basis
for the contract process. Under contract, the GSS will provide data on state, primary sampling unit, county,
and Census tract, but in no circumstances will individually identifying information (name, address, etc.)
for information about obtaining geocoded files, or view the document:
Obtaining GSS Sensitive Data Files.
How can I get additional help with the GSS Data Explorer and the data set?
The GSS Data Explorer includes Quick Start Guides to help you get the most out of the tool.
It also has information about the GSS, including the online codebook, the codebook appendices, and
published GSS reports. You can access these in our
Help and Resources
I’m having an issue using the GSS Data Explorer. Can you help me with my issue?
Yes – please complete the
online contact form
Help and Resources
section, and we’ll do our best to help.
Note that if you are experiencing technical issues, first check that you are using a modern browser such as Chrome
or Firefox, or version 9 or higher of Internet Explorer. Earlier versions of Internet Explorer or other older
browsers are not supported.
How can I learn more about the GSS and how it is administered?
For general information about the GSS, including how we design the questionnaires, create samples, and
interview respondents, visit our main GSS site for
general FAQs about the GSS.