The ESS source questionnaire consists of a collection of questions that can be classified into two main parts – a core section and a rotating section.
Until ESS Round 7, the 21-item human values scale and experimental tests used to be part of the supplementary questionnaire, which is now incorporated in the main questionnaire.
This page outlines the purpose and content of each section, while their development is documented on the Source Questionnaire Development page.
The ESS was primarily designed as a time series that could monitor changing attitudes and values across Europe. For this reason its questionnaire comprises a core module, containing items measuring a range of topics of enduring interest to the social sciences as well as the most comprehensive set of socio-structural ('background') variables of any cross-national survey. The exact number of items can change from round to round, but each question has a unique variable name to assist users working with data over time.
In each ESS Round, multi-national teams of researchers are selected to contribute to the design of two rotating modules for the questionnaire. Rotating modules are selected following an open Call for Proposals. Applicants may apply for 'new' modules or 'repeat' ones, which allow comparisons with previous ESS Rounds.
Additional information on all the rotating modules that have been included in the ESS so far, including successful applications, can be found below.
Rotating modules in ESS Rounds 1 to 12
The supplementary questionnaire makes up part of the core module. It is administered after the socio-demographic questions and the rotating modules. It has two purposes:
- serve as a vehicle for a well-established 21-item measure of human values developed by the Israeli psychologist, Professor Shalom Schwartz
- help evaluate the reliability and validity of items in the main questionnaire using the Multi-Trait Multi-Method (MTMM) approach
From ESS Round 8 onwards, all countries are asked to administer the entire questionnaire face-to-face. In ESS Rounds 1 to 7, the supplementary questionnaire was presented to respondents in three alternative ways:
- As a straightforward continuation of the face-to-face interview
- As a self-administered form while the interviewer was still present
- As a self-administered form to be returned by post (or by subsequent collection by an interviewer)
For more detailed information on how the supplementary questionnaire was administered in each ESS Round, please see ESS Rounds 1 to 7 – Supplementary Questionnaire:
contents and mode of administration.
ESS documents on this topic
Questionnaires and Showcards
For the translated questionnaires, please visit the ESS Data Portal and select the desired round and country.