FAQ

What kind of a data can I find at the American Values Atlas (AVA)?

The AVA allows users to explore the demographic, religious, and political make-up of all 50 states, 30 major metropolitan areas, and four regions. Additionally, users can explore how Americans feel about immigrants and immigration reform, as well as social and cultural issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion. All AVA data is based on telephone surveys (including cell phone) among a representative sample of the U.S. adult population (age 18+).

Start by picking a specific topic area, such as religious affiliation, demographics, politics—or an issue topic, such as abortion, immigration, or LGBT issues. Once you have selected a topic choose a specific question within that topic by using the drop-down menu. After selecting a question you can either select a response option (e.g. “Republican”) to display the percent of Americans in each geographic area who identify with that label or select any geographic unit on the map to display its unique profile. The AVA automatically displays information by state; to see metro area and region data, toggle your selection in the “Change Geography” portion of the map. To see a detailed list of data, toggle the map/list portion of the map.

The underlying data powering the AVA is based on high-quality telephone interviews among a large sample of the American public conducted by professional interviewers. Interviews are conducted in both Spanish and English, with sixty percent of interviews conducted on cell phones. For more information about the methodology, click here.

One thing that distinguishes the AVA from your average public opinion survey is its extremely large sample size. Each year, we collect at least 50,000 interviews, allowing us to provide accurate portraits of smaller religious and geographic communities that are often not available in other surveys.

The AVA was designed from the beginning to be a dynamic resource that would offer the most up-to-date religious and demographic information. Early each year, we will launch an updated version of the site that includes all data collected during the previous year.

Unlike traditional PRRI surveys, which can be downloaded from PRRI's Data Valut, AVA datasets will not be released at this time. If there is a particular analysis that you would be interested in seeing, please contact one of our researchers at info@publicreligion.org.

Once you’ve selected an issue and a question, you’ll see “Question wording” light up on the right-hand side of the map. Hover over that button and it will display the exact question wording. To review the complete issue topline questionnaire, which includes the exact question wording and order, click here.

In the AVA, metro areas are based on U.S. Census definitions. The metro areas included in the AVA include the largest and culturally important urban centers in each region. Check back with us, as more locations may be added in the future!

In all PRRI surveys—including the AVA—religious affiliation is based on self-reported identity. Our basic religion question asks respondents to select a category from an extensive list of options. The actual question wording is as follows: “What is your present religion, if any? Are you Protestant, Roman Catholic, Mormon, Orthodox such as Greek or Russian Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, agnostic, something else, or nothing in particular?” Due to increasing racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity among Protestants and Catholics, we separate these larger religious categories into smaller exclusive groups based on race and ethnicity. In addition to race, we use another question to separate white Protestants into two distinct categories: white evangelical Protestants, and white mainline Protestants. White evangelical Protestants are defined as white, non-Hispanic Protestants who also identify as “evangelical” or “born-again,” whereas white mainline Protestants do not identify as such. In the AVA, all self-identified Protestants also receive a follow-up question to determine their denominational affiliation. The question is worded as follows: “As far as your present religion goes, what denomination or church, if any, do you identify with most closely? Are you Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Episcopalian or Anglican, Church of Christ or Disciples of Christ, Congregational or United Church of Christ, Holiness, Reformed, Church of God, Non-denominational or some other denomination?

Absolutely. The AVA is a dynamic online map that we’ll be adding new data to, building out new features, and developing additional modules for years to come.

The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) —a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to research at the intersection of religion, values, and public life—saw the need to provide high quality, demographic, political and cultural information for small geographic communities. PRRI’s mission is to help journalists, opinion leaders, scholars, clergy, and the general public better understand debates on public policy issues and the role of religion and values in American public life by conducting high quality public opinion surveys and qualitative research. As a charter member of the Transparency Initiative at the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), PRRI follows the highest research standards of independence, openness, and academic excellence.