The European Values Study from 1981 to 2026: Methodological developments
Ruud Luijkx (European Values Study at Tilburg University)
Vera Lomazzi (GESIS/EVS)
Keywords: Challenges of comparative research and International Survey Projects, cross-cultural concerns in data collection and measurement issuesAbstract
The European Values Study (EVS) is a large-scale, cross-national, repeated cross-sectional survey research programme on human values. It provides insights into the beliefs, attitudes, values and opinions of citizens all over Europe on topics as family, work, environment, perceptions of life, politics and society, religion and morality, national identity. The goal of this contribution is to enlighten the main features of this survey programme with a specific focus on the methodological development over its five waves, aimed to improve in the near future comparability and compatibility with other survey programmes such as the World Values Survey and the European Social Survey.
Since 1981, EVS has collected data every 9 years. Even though several items have been changed over time, EVS still includes an impressive number of unchanged questions. Moreover, its comparability with the World Values Survey is massive, yielding an impressive database for global comparative longitudinal studies. In the current wave (fieldwork 2017-2019), EVS and WVS agreed to cooperate for the data collection in Europe and coordinated the questionnaire’s design.
Wave after wave, the program made many efforts to improve the quality of the data and their suitability for comparative analysis. In the current wave, most of these efforts are in the direction of increasing the centralization and the harmonization of the fieldwork procedures, concerning the translation process, fieldwork monitoring, mode of data collection, sampling design, etc.
An important goal is to minimize method and cultural bias resulting in measurement inequivalence and limiting comparative ambitions. For example, people living in different societies could attribute different meanings to the same words used in survey questions. Another source of bias can come from the questionnaire design: not only should the possibility of an order effect be considered, but also that this could vary across societies. In the preparation of EVS2017, these risks have been considered using the most recent insights from the methodological literature as well as running ad hoc tests. A mixed-mode (face-to-face and web-survey) has been implemented in 6 countries. This and most of the recent innovations of EVS have been developed in the context of SERISS (https://seriss.eu/), a forward-looking project within the Horizon2020 framework that suggests the future of the cross-national surveys is in strengthening cooperation. In this context, new tools for fieldwork monitoring and management, translation, sampling, coding, and on-line surveys are being developed.