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About the Guttman Center for Surveys

The Guttman Center for Surveys holds the largest, most comprehensive database of public opinion surveys in Israel. Over a span of sixty years, the Center, based in Jerusalem, has applied rigorous, innovative, and pioneering research methods enhanced by its unique "continuing survey." It has documented the attitudes of the Israeli public regarding thousands of issues, in all aspects of life, in over 1,200 studies that have been conducted since 1947: from everyday concerns to politics, culture, ideology, religion, education, and national security.

The Continuing Survey is a general name for practical surveys conducted in various sectors, which aim to examine public life. The survey examines specific problems among respondents, alongside more general "social indicators," in order to measure variables that serve as a basis for understanding trends in public response. The Continuing Survey on public problems and public opinion has followed consistent social indices throughout the years of the Institute's activity.

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Academic Director: Prof. Tamar Hermann

Founding Director: Prof. Asher Arian, z"l

Advisors: Prof. Elihu Katz, Prof. Michal Shamir

Database Director: Dr. Raphael Ventura

Surveys: Ms. Ella Heller

Staff: Chanan Cohen, Nechama Horowitz, Ashira Menashe

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The Israel Institute of Applied Social Research, later named the Guttman Institute, underwent several stages over the years it has been studying public opinion in Israel. From a volunteer unit of a military organization, it became a leading force in public opinion research and a mentoring ground for future generations of social researchers, both in Israel and abroad. Three of the Institutes' members were awarded the Israel Prize: Louis Guttman, Judy Shuval, and Elihu Katz. Its founder, Louis Guttman, immigrated to Israel from the United States, and after his death in 1987, the Institute was renamed the Guttman Institute for Applied Social Research. It continued its surveys and research under the direction of Elihu Katz, until its closure in 1996.

Over a span of fifty years the Institute, based in Jerusalem, applied rigorous, innovative, and pioneering research methods enhanced by its unique "continuing survey." It documented the attitudes of the Israeli public regarding thousands of issues, in all aspects of life in over 1,200 studies.

The Early Days
Louis Guttman came to Israel from the US in 1947 and created what was originally a voluntary research unit of the Hagana (the pre-State Israel military organization of the Jewish population). A volunteer group of researchers, headed by Louis Guttman and Uriel Foa (a sociologist who had immigrated from Italy), designed and carried out surveys on opinions and attitudes of the population within the framework of the Information and Education Division of Mishmar Ha'am (the Jewish Civil Defense) located in Jaffa-Tel-Aviv. During the siege of Jerusalem the unit was attached to the Manpower Division of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. It remained its Psychological Unit until 1951, when it became an independent institution, based in Jerusalem, which evolved into the Israel Institute of Applied Social Research. Among the issues studied in these early years were aspects of the morale of the civilian population, listening to the underground radio, whether military service should be voluntary or compulsory, and problems and priorities regarding food rationing. It was reported that in 1949, when interviewers came to residents' homes to survey their attitudes, some exclaimed that it was about time the government decided to inquire about people's opinions.

The Institute as an Independent Organization
One of the major studies conducted in the early 1950s took over three years and focused on the adjustment of new immigrants. Interviews were conducted in 12 languages and respondents were followed from their arrival, though the immigrant camps, to the new immigrant settlements around the country. A study which was conducted for the Engineers' Association on building types was expanded by the Institute, at its own expense, to include questions on neighbor relations and drew great interest among government officials.

In 1955, the Institute for Applied Social Research was formally established as an independent, non-profit organization, in accordance with a decision of the Israel government. Studies of the Institute led to the creation of Israeli television, and members of the Institute, Professor Elihu Katz and Uzi Peled were highly instrumental in its early organizational stages.

Requests from Abroad
Organizations from abroad turned to the Institute to study its pioneering methods of field research, use of computers, and techniques of data analysis. The US military wanted to learn about the socialization of kibbutz youth. UNESCO wanted to learn about prejudice towards certain immigrant groups. The BBC and the Voice of America wanted to know what Israelis thought about their radio programs, and TIME magazine asked to investigate the views of the Israeli public on international relations. Researchers from universities abroad came to the Institute to study its innovative methods and techniques and to do their doctoral research.

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One of the goals of the Guttman Center from its early days was to collect data over time on the mood and attitudes of the public, but it did not have the appropriate funds to maintain such an ongoing survey. Just before the 1967 War, the Institute convinced the minister who was in charge of information to fund a survey on the mood of the public, people were interviewed, and findings analyzed throughout the war.

Only a year later, the Institute, together with the Hebrew University Communication Institute, finally implemented the 'continuing survey' three times a year, which enabled the Institute to obtain an ongoing and systematic record of people's views.

The Continuing Survey deals with the following topics:

  • Antisemitism and the Holocaust
  • Arab Leadership
  • Civil Rights and Liberties
  • Communal and Family Life
  • Confidence in the Government
  • Economic Policy and Economic Issues
  • Education and Integration
  • Elections
  • Extreme Groups
  • Foreign Policy
  • Government Performance and Decisions
  • Health and Health Services
  • Immigration and Immigrants
  • Institutions
  • Israel-Diaspora Relations
  • Israeli Arabs
  • Israeli Democracy
  • Israel’s Wars
  • Israel-U.S. Relations
  • Jewish-Arab Relations
  • Labor and Labor Relations
  • Media
  • National Mood
  • Nuclear Weapons
  • Peace Accords and Peace Conferences
  • Personal Feelings
  • Political Participation
  • Political Trust and Efficiency of the Political System
  • POW and MIA
  • Relations between Ethnic Groups
  • Religion - and Religious-Secular Relations
  • Savings - Investments and Taxes
  • Service in the IDF
  • Settlements
  • Social Problems
  • Standard of Living and Quality of Life
  • Terror and the Intifada
  • The Future of the Territories - Palestinian State
  • The Palestinian Problem
  • The Peace Process
  • The Prime Minister and Political Leadership
  • Values - Morals and Norms in Israeli Society
  • Violence
  • Willingness to make Economic Concessions
  • Willingness to make Territorial Concessions
  • Zionism and Patriotism

For a full list of the Guttman Center surveys, please contact Dr. Raphael Ventura or Mr. Eliyahu Sapir. Each survey contains a questionnaire, an abstract, and an SPSS database file which can be purchased. Standard fees apply to these services.

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IDI's Guttman Center was presented with the Tolerance Award on June 17th, 2006 from Tolerance – a non-partisan movement to curtail violence. According to Tolerance, the Guttman Center received the prize for strengthening democratic institutions and promoting research on tolerance.

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