Taking part

Information about taking part in the survey

Since 1983 British Social Attitudes has been tracking the views and opinions of the public on the big issues facing the nation. 

Every year, we invite the British public to share their views on a range of topics such as health, education and how the country is run.

Households are randomly selected from across England, Scotland and Wales to take part in the study. This way we are able to get a truly unbiased picture of attitudes in Britain. 

If your household has been selected to take part, you will receive an invitation letter in the post and one of our interviewers will call at your address. In 2019, fieldwork will be taking place between July and October. 

Your answers are combined with others and then used by charities and researchers to understand what the British public really thinks about the issues of the day. The more people who take part in this study, the more accurate the results will be.

Find out more about what taking part in the survey will involve below.


Frequently asked questions

What is the British Social Attitudes survey?

British Social Attitudes is the longest-running study of public attitudes in Britain. Since 1983 this highly respected study has been tracking the views and opinions of the public on the big issues facing the nation. It's the only survey of its kind.

Every year we ask people from across Britain what they think about a range of topics like health, education and how the country is run. This means that we can not only show what people in Britain think about important issues today but we can also show how opinions and views have changed over the years.


Why have I been selected to take part?

Your address has been picked from the Postcode Address File. This is a list of every address in Great Britain. It is held by the Post Office and is available to the public.

In order to get a truly unbiased picture of people's attitudes we randomly select addresses from a publicly available list of postcodes. That way, everyone has an equal chance of taking part. 

Whoever you are, whatever you think, your opinion is important to us.


Why take part?

British Social Attitudes is the only study of its kind. The study is respected by the media, politicians and charities. By taking part you will be helping us to uncover the views of people in Britain today. What we find out is used to inform policy and make a difference to the lives of people across the nation.

The findings of the study will be featured in the newspapers, on television and radio, and will be discussed in Parliament. The survey is also used widely by national charities like the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Health Foundation and the Nuffield Trust, as well as academics and researchers.

Taking part is an opportunity to shape what's debated in Parliament and what's talked about online and in the newspapers. We rely on your help to ensure that the opinions and views of people like you are represented. It doesn't matter if you have a strong opinion or not - we are interested in whatever you have to say.

Most people agree to be interviewed and enjoy taking part.


What will I receive for taking part?

As a thank you, we include a Post Office voucher in the letters we send to households inviting them to take part. The voucher can be used to claim cash from any Post Office branch.

It’s easy to say no to our interviewers, but we hope you won’t. We’re not asking for money, just that you spare a little time to share your thoughts and opinions.

We will never ask for your bank details or passwords.


What’s involved?

If you have recently received a letter asking you to take part, one of our interviewers will visit in the next week or so, to arrange an interview. So that you know who they are, all of our interviewers carry photo ID with our logo on it.

The interviewer will select one person at random from your household to take part in a simple interview. We understand that you may be busy, so we’ll organise the interview at a time and place that suits you.

If you haven’t been asked to take part, thank you for your interest, but unfortunately we can only talk to those people who have been selected. By randomly selecting one person in each household and interviewing only the selected person, we can make sure that all views and opinions have an equal chance to be heard.


What will you ask me about?

The interview itself is really relaxed – your interviewer will ask you about a range of topics including healthcare, education, welfare and equality. For many questions you will be asked to pick from a selection of common answers. And don’t worry – you don’t have to answer any questions you don’t want to, your interviewer will just skip on to the next one.

There’s no need to prepare for the interview. You don’t need any special knowledge - we want to hear what you think about the major issues affecting Britain today. And it doesn't matter if you don’t have a strong opinion - we are interested in whatever you have to say. If you don’t know much about an issue – it’s still important for us to know that.


Do I have to answer all the questions?

Taking part is voluntary and you do not have to answer any questions you don’t want to. Just let your interviewer know, and they will move on to the next question. Your interviewer will be happy to answer any questions you have about the study which aren’t covered here.


What will happen to my answers?

We will treat the information you give us in the strictest confidence under GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018. The results collected are used for research purposes only. Your answers will be combined with others and any information that could directly identify you will be removed before we analyse and share the data. We publish the findings in a report which is free to download. Any reports written will not identify anyone who took part in the survey. An anonymised version of the data is provided to funders and archived with the UK Data Service, where it is accessible to people for research purposes only. Your answers will not be identifiable in the data. You will never receive any junk mail as a result of speaking to us. We never pass on your details to other organisations for commercial purposes. You can read more about how your data will be used at the foot of the page in our Privacy Notice. 


Who are your interviewers?

We have an experienced team of professional research interviewers across England, Scotland and Wales. All our interviewers carry photographic ID cards and have been checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly the Criminal Records Bureau). We welcome any feedback you have about your experience with our interviewers.


Where can I get more information?

If you have any questions at all, you can get in touch with us by phone or by email.


Privacy notice

The purpose of processing your information

The British Social Attitudes survey is designed to capture a representative picture of the attitudes of the British public towards issues of interest to the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) and its funders.

This study provides important information about public attitudes across a range of different subjects. It is used by government departments, academics, charities and consultants to understand what the public thinks.

A number of different government departments and public bodies fund the survey by paying to ask questions.

Your personal data will only be used for research and statistical purposes. This means you will never receive any sales or marketing calls as a result of taking part in the survey.

Participation is not a statutory or contractual requirement.


The legal basis for processing

The legal basis for processing the data is ‘legitimate interest’.


The data controller

The National Centre for Social Research is the data controller for the British Social Attitudes survey.


Sharing your personal information

An anonymised version of the data set is provided to funders and archived with the UK Data Service, where it is accessible to people for research purposes. Your answers will not be identifiable in this data.


Data retention period

Your name and contact information will be deleted when the data is published and no later than June 2021.

The rest of the collected survey data will be securely stored for an indefinite period. They are made available for use in scientific studies by researchers, students and others interested in opinion and social attitudes in the UK and other countries.




Contact us

If you have any queries, contact us:

Data Protection Officer
NatCen Social Research
Kings House,
101-135 Kings Rd,
CM14 4LX

Email: dpo@natcen.ac.uk

Data Protection Officers are responsible for upholding your rights and making sure we process your information correctly.


Concerns about how we are using your information

If you have any concerns about the processing of your information, contact the Data Protection Regulator:

Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House,
Water Lane,
SK9 5AF,

Helpline number: 0303 123 1113

Email: www.ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/email

Website: www.ico.org.uk