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PANEL: [The European Values Study: a project that bridges past and future. 40 years of values research and methodological innovations ]

Vera Lomazzi (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)
Ruud Luijkx (Tilburg University; Universitá di Trento)
Michèle Ernst Stähli (FORS c/o University of Lausanne, Géopolis )
Alexandre Pollien (FORS c/o University of Lausanne, Géopolis )
Michael Braun (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)
Dorothée Behr (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)
Natalia Soboleva (Laboratory for Comparative Social Research, Higher School of Economics - Moscow)
Tim Reeskens (Tilburg University)
Inge Sieben (Tilburg University)
Loek Halman (Tilburg University)

Keywords: Challenges of comparative research and International Survey Projects, cross-cultural concerns in data collection and measurement issues


In these times of permanent global social change and dramatic transformations in Europe, the question about value changes is immanent. Ongoing technological developments are relevant for transformations in social communication as well as in the working life (i.e. Industry 4.0). The working conditions of the Europeans are still scarred by the recent recession, visible in high unemployment rates especially in the Southern countries. The refugee crisis divides Northern and Southern Europe; terrorism threats became part of social life. Events as the Brexit referendum, the rise of extreme-right wing parties in many national elections, the uncertain government formation in countries like Germany, caused political uncertainty in many European countries, often fed by populism.
How do all these events affect the Europeans’ values? And how can we, as public opinion researchers, measure these human values in an adequate way?
With its five waves the European Values Study (EVS) covers the study of a wide range of human values in the last four decades. The proposed panel gives evidence of the suitability of the EVS for the analysis of social change, and will highlight the methodological innovations introduced in the 2017 wave. The 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.
Since 1981 data are collected 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 global comparative studies. In the 2017 wave, 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. Also, a mixed-mode (face-to-face and websurvey) has been implemented in 6 countries. Most of the recent innovations of EVS have been developed in the context of SERISS (, a forward-looking project that suggests the future of the cross-national surveys is in strengthening cooperation.
The panel includes papers based on EVS data or illustrating methodological aspects relevant for the comparative research of values:
"The European Values Study from 1981 to 2026: methodological developments"- Luijkx, Lomazzi
"Questions in context: location and order effects in the measurement of values"- Ernst Stähli, Pollien, Milbert, Ochsner
"Using Web-Probing to Elucidate Respondents’s Understanding of “Minorities“ in Cross-Cultural Comparative Research"- Braun, Behr, Meitinger, Raiber
"The effect of work values upon the association between life satisfaction and job satisfaction"- Soboleva
"A Growing Educational Divide? Evidence from the Netherlands from 5 EVS Waves"- Reeskens, Sieben, Halman