Sociology American Values Assessment Essay

I. Personal Inventory and Comparison to Group Data


  (1) Personal Inventory of Values: Write a list of the 3 personal values that hold most importance to you. 

  (2) Compare the list using Berkeley University’s Survey Documentation and Analysis (GSS/SDA) data. 

  (3) Present your analysis  using the following organizational format:

  1. Introduction: List your 3 most important values with a brief description of why they are important.

  2. Body/Analysis: Describe trends or changes in those issues you have chosen from the data. Be sure to include the most recent data, preferably 2016 in your report. See the section on “presenting the analysis” below for more specific instructions.

  3. Compare your values to survey findings from the GSS/SDA data for issues/behavior/activities that are relevant to your values. In what ways are these findings from a national sample of Americans relevant to your 3 values?

 4. Summary: Present the highlights of your analysis or what you consider to be the major findings of your analysis.

Note: Remember from SOCY100 that a variable is the social issue, activity, belief that we as sociologists are studying. There are two categories of variables: Independent Variables or Dependent Variables.

  • The Independent Variable changes or affects the value or level of a Dependent Variable.
  • The Dependent Variable is affected or changed by the Independent Variable.

In this assignment, the Year that the survey data were collected is the Independent Variable. You will be comparing changes in survey responses for specific issues, activities, or beliefs from year to year. These changes can represent “trends” over the course of the years in the table.

II. To access Berkeley’s and analyze GSS/SDA data “: 

  • Either click on the link below or cut and paste the url in your browser: This will bring you to the data access page. At the top of the left hand margin there is a section entitled: “Variable Selection”. 
  • Next to the word “selected” type: Year. Click on Col (column) next to “Copy to:” The word Year will appear in the box for column.  You will always put Year in the column for all of the analysis with these data.
  • Scroll down the variable list to “Attitudinal Measures” and click on “>” next to it, click on “Social Variant”1 (sub-heading), 
  • Scroll down and click on 1 issue dealing with the amount of public spent on that issue that relates to your values.
  • Go back up to “Variable Selection” and click next to “row”. The title of the variable/issue should appear in the window next to row.
  • Click on “Run the Table” at the bottom of the page. A table should appear that provides percentages from 1972 – 2016 for survey responses to your chosen dependent variable.

Repeat the process above to choose a variable/issue listed under Variant 2, Social Public Spending.

Take time to familiarize yourself with the GSS/SDA site to become more comfortable with the data-sets. 

When navigating the data-sets and using the survey data be sure to note the date of each percentage for your paper.  Your analysis should be written in complete sentences like any other narrative. Please take time to familiarize yourself with the SDA website and current data available in the data sets. Data that stops in the 1980’s and 1990’s is dated and is not current. Data that is 20 to 30 years old and not updated to the 21st century does not provide information on current social trends or social change.

III. Presenting your analysis:

Analysis involves reporting percentages not raw numbers in the tables. You also need to provide the headings and sub-headings used in the database or the exact spelling of the variable/issue (example: NATENVIR) selected. Here are things to think about when analyzing the tables:

Be sure to report the percentages for the most current year (2016) for each response category.

To what extent have attitudes about public spending on the social issue chosen changed over the span of years the data were reported? Have they remained relatively the same, from year to year – within a few points for each response category of “too little”, “about right” or “too much”? Rather, have they fluctuated several percentage points between certain years?

What social, political, and economic factors might explain either the stability or the fluctuation in the responses?

How do these responses relate to your three personal values?

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