How to analyse the Scottish Social Attitudes survey on this website

Step one: If you have not done so already, open the page where you can search for questions from the Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) survey. Open in a new tab (either by right clicking on the link to see an option for this or on a Mac pressing ‘cmd’ and click) so you can easily keep looking back at these instructions.

Explore the Scottish Social Attitudes survey

Step two: Search for and click on a question in which you are interested (see more detailed guidance on the search facility below if you need this). The overall results for each year in which that question was asked will be displayed.

Tip – If a survey question has been asked more than once this will show as a line graph, as this is the ideal format for visualising change over time. Questions that have only been asked once will show as a bar chart. But you can ask for any question to be displayed as a bar chart or a table of figures by selecting the appropriate tabs immediately above the graph.

Step three: Scroll down to the ‘Explore’ panel. Here you will find ‘See these data broken down by’, followed by a drop down menu. This menu is a list, grouped by topic, of all the SSA questions for which data are available. Choose one of those questions, and hit ‘Go’.

Tip – At this point you will see two charts displayed. The top one will feature the original question you chose, the second one further down the page will feature the responses to this question broken down by the second variable you chose.

Step four: The results you can see now (in the lower graph on the page) will be the combined results for all the years in which both questions were asked. If you would prefer to see results for a particular year, you will see a second drop-down menu that allows you to do this. Example of how you might analyse SSA data

Let us say, for example, you wanted to see whether younger people are keener on independence than older people. First of all you would scroll down or use the search facility to find the question, ‘How Scotland should be governed (five response categories collapsed to three)’. You are then presented with a line chart of the answers to this question given by everyone in each year – and underneath a panel with the word ‘Explore’. Select ‘Age group’ from the menu and hit ‘Go’.

That creates a bar chart that shows for all SSA surveys combined what proportion of each age group has supported independence, devolution and no parliament at all. So, for example when it says that 35% of 18-24 year olds support independence, that means that 35% of all the 18-24 year olds ever interviewed by SSA have said they wanted Scotland to be an independent country.

You might, however, want to see the results just for 2012. If you click on the second drop-down menu bar that has now appeared in the Explore panel, choose 2012 and click Go. You will now see what each age group said in that year alone – and that amongst 18-24 year olds 31% supported independence. If you would then like to compare 2012 with an earlier year you can download the 2012 data (a download icon gives you various options for doing so) and then just change the year from 2012 to an earlier year. Or alternatively open a second tab and display the results for the earlier year in that.

Note that all the results can be displayed as tables as well as displayed as bars.

Additional features

Removing data from your analysis

If there are particular demographic or response categories in a bar chart in which you are less interested, you can remove these to focus on the ones that do interest you. Just click on the legend of the category(ies) you wish to remove. Note that the remaining data will not be affected by doing this.

It is also possible to remove the responses of those who said ‘Don’t Know’ or ‘Refused’ entirely from the calculations. You can do this by selecting ‘Remove Don’t Know responses’ and you will see the remaining figures adjust accordingly.

Where to find data on WhatScotlandThinks.org

If you are only interested in looking at Scottish Social Attitudes findings, the ideal place to start is our page that only features questions from the survey.

However, you can also search our collection of all Scottish poll and survey data from 2007 and you will find questions from the Scottish Social Attitudes survey integrated into this broader search. It is not possible to break down the results from surveys other than SSA but the facility will still be available for any Scottish Social Attitudes questions you come across.

Search methods

There are two main methods for searching for data on this site. One option is to type keywords into the search box. You will be presented with a list of suggested survey or poll questions that fit your search criteria in a drop-down list, or you can press ‘Go’ to see the full list. The second option is to filter using the options at the left hand side.

Both of these methods of searching for data – that is both keyword search and filtering - are available on both the SSA and full opinion polls search pages.

It may be there is particular topic in which you are interested – for example, referendum voting intention or attitudes to devolution. If this is the case, simply click on the relevant Topic page from the Homepage and you will be presented with all the polling and survey data as well as blogs relating to that Topic.

Alternatively, you can just browse the full list questions on either SSA or full question search pages. The questions are ordered by the most popular on the site so politically relevant or recent findings are often near the top of the list.