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Frequently Asked Questions

Want to know more about the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study? Here are answers to some of the questions commonly asked about the study.

  1. » What is the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study?
  2. » I've just received a copy of the NZAVS questionnaire in the post. Can I complete it online instead?
  3. » I've moved address. How can I update my contact details?
  4. » I've moved overseas? Are my responses still useful?
  5. » I've heard about the study and would like to take part. Can I join the NZAVS?
  6. » I have just received an NZAVS questionnaire for the first time. How was I selected?
  7. » You already have lots of people in the study. Why is it important for me to take part?
  8. » Why is it important that I complete the NZAVS questionnaire each year?
  9. » Can I suggest a question for the NZAVS research team?
  10. » How do you phrase items for use in the NZAVS?
  11. » Does the NZAVS include culturally-relevant questions for specific groups within New Zealand?
  12. » Why it is important for the NZAVS to measure feelings toward different groups?
  13. » Why do we measure trust in the government, police and other authorities?
  14. » Is the NZAVS affiliated or funded by any political organizations or corporate or government bodies?
  15. » How is the NZAVS funded?
  16. » What are the ethics approval details for the NZAVS?
  17. » How do you protect my contact details and other personal information?
  18. » How many participants does the NZAVS sample, and what is the retention rate?
  19. » What do you do with the data, how is it shared, and how is it used for scientific research?
  20. » Who are the researchers in the NZAVS research team?
  21. » Who are the researchers involved in the NZAVS more generally?
  22. » Where can I read more about press releases and recent findings from the NZAVS?
  23. » You mentioned an NZAVS prize draw. When will it be drawn for this year?
  24. » I'm a graduate student interested in working in the NZAVS lab. Who should I contact?

What is the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study?

The New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study (NZAVS) is a 20-year longitudinal national study of social attitudes, personality and health outcomes. The study is broad-ranging and includes researchers from a number of New Zealand universities, including the University of Auckland, Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Canterbury, the University of Otago, and Massey University. The NZAVS extends our understanding of how New Zealanders' life circumstances, attitudes, values, and beliefs change over time. The study is university-based, not-for-profit and independent of political and corporate funding. The NZAVS is curated by Professor Chris Sibley and Dr Danny Osborne (School of Psychology, University of Auckland) and Professor Joseph Bulbulia (School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies, Victoria University of Wellington).

The New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study was started by Professor Chris Sibley in 2009. You can read more about how the NZAVS got started in an interview with Chris here

 

 

Chris Sibley talks about the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study, what it is, how it got started, and what it aims to contribute to New Zealand.

I've just received a copy of the NZAVS questionnaire in the post. Can I complete it online instead?

We also offer an online version of the questionnaire. Click here to complete the study online.

 

I've moved address. How can I update my contact details?

The NZAVS is a longitudinal study that aims to follow people each year so that we can measure change in personality attitudes, health and wellbeing. We try hard to contact everyone each year. If we have missed you this year, or if you have moved, then please let us know so that we can send you another questionnaire.

Email us: nzavs@auckland.ac.nz

Update your details online

 

I've moved overseas? Are my responses still useful?

Your responses are still very important to us. One of the really interesting research questions that we are looking at in the NZAVS relates to how people who have moved overseas are doing, relative to those who have stayed in New Zealand. So yes, it would be great if you could continue to complete the questionnaire online

 

I've heard about the study and would like to take part. Can I join the NZAVS?

Absolutely. You can join the study by completing the NZAVS online questionnaire

 

I have just received an NZAVS questionnaire for the first time. How was I selected?

If you have just received a questionnaire for the first time then your name and contact address were randomly selected from the electoral roll. The electoral roll is available for scientific research. The study has been running for five years now, and this year we are conducting a large booster sample to try and get more people to join our study. We hope you will be willing to take part!

 

You already have lots of people in the study. Why is it important for me to take part?

The aim of a national longitudinal sample like the NZAVS is to be able to provide responses that represent all people living in New Zealand. To be able to represent everyone reliably, we need as diverse and broad a range of respondents as possible. Every single person in the study is incredibly important to us, as every single response can help to increase the reliability and accuracy of our conclusions.

 

Why is it important that I complete the NZAVS questionnaire each year?

The NZAVS is a longitudinal study that aims to track how the personality, attitudes and values of New Zealanders may be changing over time. This is important because we currently know very little about how peoples’ opinions, values and levels of satisfaction with their lives may change gradually over time, and perhaps also change rapidly in response to current events in society. Because the annual survey uses repeat respondents, it can track subtle changes in attitudes and values over time, and is becoming an important tool for researchers. To be able to look at change, we need to follow-up on people over time, and be able to compare your responses across years. 

 

Can I suggest a question for the NZAVS research team?

Do you have another question about attitudes and values in New Zealand that the NZAVS may be able to answer? You can suggest a question that you would like to know more about using the NZAVS data. The NZAVS team will present analyses of the data answering as many as possible of the most popular questions that people raise, and will update the website with new questions answered from the dataset regularly. Please make your questions as specific as you can.

Suggest a question for the NZAVS research team

 

How do you phrase items for use in the NZAVS?

You probably noticed that there were a number of items that seemed somewhat similar spread throughout the questionnaire. We included multiple items that were somewhat similar because one of our aims is to try and get multiple measures of attitudes toward a number of different aspects of New Zealand society. The idea behind this is that to measure something accurately you need multiple measures (or indicators) of the underlying attitude. Ideally the items should not be too obviously related to the same thing, but they do all need to relate to the same concept. We are still tinkering with the items from year to year, and your responses will help us a lot to improve this.

You probably also noticed that a lot of the items seemed to be worded one way, whereas other items were worded in the opposite direction. In other words if you strongly agreed with one item expressing an attitude toward a particular topic, then you probably found that you strongly disagreed with others. For example, someone who strongly identified with their ethnic group would probably tend to agree with items such as “Being a member of my ethnic group is an important part of who I am” but disagree with items such as “Being a member of my ethnic group has very little to do with how I see myself.”

There are a number of important reasons for including items worded in both directions. One reason is that it allows us to spot people who simply agreed with all the items in the questionnaire, regardless of how they were worded. Another more important reason is that some people tend to display an ‘agreement bias.’ This means that people will, more often than not, be likely to slightly agree with most statements of opinion if they are positively worded. This is important because it can bias the results. By including items worded in both directions, we hope to be able to control for any possible agreement bias in the data and thus more accurately measure attitudes.

You can read a more detailed open letter from the NZAVS research team outlining our rationale for how and why we measure attitudes toward different groups here

Does the NZAVS include culturally-relevant questions for specific groups within New Zealand?

The NZAVS includes researchers from a diverse range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The NZAVS also employs measures of psychological identification developed specifically by members of our research team for use with Māori and Pacific peoples. These additional scales are in the public domain and are also part of a series of broader cross-disciplinary and collaborative research projects aimed at improving outcomes for Māori and Pacific peoples. Read more about the measurement of Maori identity developed by Dr. Carla Houkamau, and the measurement of Pacific identity developed by Sam Manuela. We are currently working on culture-specific measures for use with other ethnic groups.

 

Carla Houkamau and Chris Sibley talk about the measure of Maori identity that they developed for use in the NZAVS.

Why it is important for the NZAVS to measure feelings toward different groups?

The NZAVS contains items asking participants to rate their emotions (feelings of ‘warmth’ and feelings of ‘anger’) toward a number of different social groups. These include specific ethnic groups, such as ‘NZ Europeans’, ‘Chinese’ and ‘Māori’. The list also includes more general or broader categories (e.g., ‘Asians in general’ and ‘Immigrants in general'). Full and complete copies of all NZAVS questionnaires are available here.

This general type of scale is widely used in numerous research projects across the globe and has been a standard measure in many political science surveys conducted since—and perhaps even earlier than—1964. This general type of scale has been included in numerous other surveys in many nations, including multiple studies in New Zealand.

The NZAVS uses these ‘feeling thermometer scales’ to gauge the level of tolerance and positive emotions that people in New Zealand express toward different ethnic and social groups. As such, it is an important indicator of intergroup harmony within our nation.

This is important for the NZAVS because we want to know how such attitudes and feelings might change over time. By looking for change in these attitudes over time, we can help to determine how well New Zealand as a whole is doing in terms of providing an inclusive and tolerant society that supports diversity and respect for all peoples.

Tracking change in these attitudes over time is also important because the NZAVS aims to identify possible ‘triggers’ that might temporarily increase or decrease tolerance in society. One of our key aims here at the NZAVS is to identify what these ‘triggers’ might be in terms of maintaining and increasing tolerance in our society over time. 

 

Why do we measure trust in the government, police and other authorities?

One research focus of the NZAVS is whether trust in basic institutions such as government, healthcare, police, and education is changing over time.  If trust is changing, we also want to understand why, and with what effects? Where trust is stable, what factors promote this stability, and is stability linked to well-being. This is important because trust in basic institutions has been associated with the levels of happiness and prosperity that people experience.  Yet relatively little is known about the mechanisms.  To understand why trust is linked to wellbeing requires longitudinal studies, such as the NZAVS.  It’s also important to note that our interest in these questions is entirely independent of any government body or agency. Our funding is independent of any government body or agency.  Not only do we take extraordinary safeguards to ensure participant confidentiality, we are committed to remaining independent from government oversight or management. As well as helping to answer this fundamental research questions about whether New Zealand is a healthy and happy place to live, we can thus provide independent scientific data on citizen’s trust and satisfaction that is impartial and independent of any particular government body and/or authority.

 

Is the NZAVS affiliated or funded by any political organizations or corporate or government bodies?

No, it is not. The NZAVS is a university-based, scientific not-for-profit study.

The NZAVS is not affiliated or funded by any political organization or government body. Our study is independent of government and corporate interests. Results and publication of all NZAVS data are also independent of any specific funding agency, corporate or government body. Research reports using anonymous data from the study may be requested for the purposes of not-for-profit social and health research in New Zealand.

(You can read our funding statement in the next paragraph of the FAQ).

 

How is the NZAVS funded?

The NZAVS is funded from various not-for-profit research granting agencies, research trusts, and internal University funding from year-to-year. Our funders have no role in NZAVS study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of scientific reports or manuscripts for publication using NZAVS data. A full and complete list of all the funding recieved by the NZAVS is provided in the next paragraph. 

The NZAVS has recieved funding from the following sources: University of Auckland Faculty Research Development Grants awarded to Chris Sibley in 2009 ($30,000) and 2014 ($25,000). A University of Auckland Early Career Research Excellence Award to Chris Sibley in 2010 ($25,000). A Strategic Fund Grant from the School of Psychology, University of Queensland awarded to Fiona Kate Barlow in 2013 ($10,000). A Te Whare Kura New Knowledge Acquisition Grant awarded to Carla Houkamau and Chris Sibley in 2013 ($10,000). Faculty Research Development Grants awarded to Danny Osborne in 2011 ($30,000) and 2015 ($50,000). A University of Auckland Early Career Research Excellence Award to Danny Osborne in 2015 ($25,000). A University of Auckland Research Excellence Award to the NZAVS research group ($5000). A grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation awarded to Chris Sibley, Joseph Bulbulia and Geoff Troughton in 2013 ($601,235). A Marsden Fund grant from the Royal Society of New Zealand awarded to Joseph Bulbulia in 2013 ($769,565). A grant from the Templeton Religion Trust awarded to Chris Sibley, Joseph Bulbulia, Geoff Troughton and Don E. Davis in 2018 ($4,569,114). The NZAVS has also received annual support (in the range of $2000-$6000 each year) from School of Psychology internal Performance Based Research Funds awarded to Chris Sibley and Danny Osborne, and internal yearly publication incentive funds awarded to Chris Sibley and Danny Osborne, from 2009-2018. 

 

 

What are the ethics approval details for the NZAVS?

The NZAVS is reviewed every three years by the University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee. Our most recent ethics approval statement is as follows: The New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study was approved by The University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee on 03-June-2015 until 03-June-2018. Reference Number: 014889. Our previous ethics approval statement for the 2009-2015 period is: The New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study was approved by The University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee on 09-September-2009 until 09-September-2012, and renewed on 17-February-2012 until 09-September-2015. Reference Number: 6171.

For ethical concerns about the project, please contact: The Chair, The University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland. Phone 09-373-7599, extn. 83711. Email: ro-ethics@auckland.ac.nz.

 

How do you protect my contact details and other personal information?

Here at the NZAVS we take our participants’ confidentiality very seriously. All personal details are encrypted and stored separately from questionnaire data. Only Associate Prof. Chris Sibley and trusted research assistants working on the NZAVS in secure conditions have access to participants' contact details. Participants’ contact details are used solely for the purposes of contacting them to continue their participation in the NZAVS each year and to provide them with information and feedback about research findings from the NZAVS.

 

How many participants does the NZAVS sample, and what is the retention rate?

  • In 2009, at Wave I, the NZAVS randomly sampled a total of 6,518 registered voters from the New Zealand electoral roll.
  • In 2010, the NZAVS sampled 4,423 people retained from Wave I (retention rate from Wave I = 68%).
  • In 2011, the NZAVS sampled 6,884 New Zealanders, with 3,916 people retained from Wave I and a booster sample of 2,961 new participants (retention rate from Wave I = 60%, wave-to-wave retention from previous year = 80%).
  • In 2012, the NZAVS sampled 12,182 New Zealanders, with 4,054 people retained from Wave I and a booster sample of 5,377 new participants (retention rate from Wave I = 62%, wave-to-wave retention from previous year = 84%).
  • In 2013, the NZAVS sampled 18,211 New Zealanders, with 3,941 people retained from Wave I and a booster sample of 7,639 new participants (retention rate from Wave I = 61%, wave-to-wave retention from previous year = 81%).  
  • In 2014, the NZAVS sampled 15,822 people, with 3,727 people retained from Wave I (retention rate from Wave I = 57%, wave-to-wave retention from previous year = 82%).  
  • In 2015, the NZAVS sampled 13,945 people, with 3,344 people retained from Wave I (retention rate from Wave I = 51%, wave-to-wave retention from previous year = 79%). 
 

What do you do with the data, how is it shared, and how is it used for scientific research?

A copy of the anonymous data reported in each NZAVS publication is available from Associate Prof. Chris Sibley upon request from appropriately qualified researchers. Such data will be provided with the explicit understanding that it is used solely for the purposes of replicating or otherwise checking the validity of analyses reported in scientific papers analysing NZAVS data.

Anonymous data from the study are also available on a case-by-case basis to appropriately qualified researchers for the purposes of developing novel collaborative scientific research. Such requests should also be directed to Associate Prof. Chris Sibley. Decisions about the provision of data for the purposes of novel collaborative research will be made in consultation with other members of the core NZAVS team. Finally, research reports using anonymous data from the study may also be requested strictly for the purposes of not-for-profit social and health research in New Zealand. 

 

Who are the researchers in the NZAVS research team?

You can read more about our team and the post-graduate students who work in the NZAVS lab on our postgraduate lab page.

 

Who are the researchers involved in the NZAVS more generally?

The NZAVS is a large-scale collaborative study that includes many researchers from a diverse range of research areas. A full list of all researchers involved in the NZAVS is available here.

 

Where can I read more about press releases and recent findings from the NZAVS?

The NZAVS has a Facebook page which we regularly update with news about the study, conference photos and that awards won by memebrs of our team, links to published research papers, summaries, and video interviews. Please follow the NZAVS Facebook page for regular updates about the study.

 

You mentioned an NZAVS prize draw. When will it be drawn for this year?

As a token of appreciation, everyone who completes the questionnaire is be entered into a grocery voucher prize draw for that year. The first prize is $500 of grocery vouchers. The second prize is $300 of grocery vouchers. The third prize is $200 of grocery vouchers. Prizes for the latest round of the NZAVS (Wave 8) will be drawn in October 2017. 

 

I'm a graduate student interested in working in the NZAVS lab. Who should I contact?

The NZAVS lab has an open and collaborative atmosphere. PhD candidates in our lab can be supervised by a range of researchers, depedning on the particualr area. Current PhD students working with the NZAVS are supervised by Professor Chris Sibley, Dr. Danny Osborne, Dr. Carla Houkamau, and Assoc. Prof. Joseph Bulbulia. Our research covers a wide range of topics in social psychology. We work as a team, and encourage our graduate students to work together on collaborative projects for publication. You can read more about the NZAVS lab on our lab homepage. Our lab has a strong focus on the statistical modelling of longitudinal data. We provide all the specialist training you will need to work with longitudinal data, and hold weekly workshops throughout the year that focus on a variety of different statistical analyses and methods. Materials and data from many of the NZAVS statistics workshops are also available online.