Who wrote the survey?
The 2016 Next Mormons Survey was principally written by Jana Riess and Benjamin Knoll. In designing the survey questions, we consulted a variety of sources and questionnaires from existing religious and social surveys conducted by reputable research firms, including those who have specifically surveyed Latter-day Saints. In particular, many survey questions came from standard batteries of survey questions on religion and social behavior used by the Pew Religious Landscape Survey, the General Social Survey, the American National Elections Survey, the 2012 Pew Mormons in America Survey, the Pew Political Typology surveys, the Peculiar People Survey (Campbell, et al), and the 2011 Understanding Mormon Disbelief Survey. Many other questions we wrote ourselves according to the goals of our research project, striving in each case to follow best practice public opinion survey question design.
After the original survey was drafted, we sought input from other scholars and experts of religion, public opinion, and Mormonism. Many people graciously contributed constructive feedback that further strengthened the survey. These include social scientists David Campbell, Ryan Cragun, Armand Mauss, Gary Shepherd, Gordon Shepherd and Rick Phillips, as well as other individuals who are listed in the acknowledgments. Angela Black, Matthew Bowman, Joanna Brooks, Tona Hangen, Sharon Harris, Tania and John Lyon, Allison Pond, Bob Rees, Travis Stratford, Toria Trendler, Bill and David Turnbull, and Sara Vraneš also offered careful and conscientious feedback as we improved the questions through many different survey drafts before fielding the survey.
Who was included in the survey?
The survey was fielded by the professional survey firm Qualtrics who partners with a variety of research panels across the country to recruit survey participants. In this case, Qualtrics specifically recruited participants who identify as members or former members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. More information is available on the methodology page.
Is this survey representative of American Mormons at large?
Yes. We ensured that Qualtrics recruited participants in all 50 U.S. states in approximate proportion to their concentration of LDS members. After data collection was complete, we compared the survey results on key demographic variables (age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, income, etc.) with the 2014 Pew Religious Landscape Survey, which itself is a nationally representative random-digit dialed public opinion survey, and applied a “post-stratification weighting” procedure to adjust for any discrepancies between the NMS and RLS on those variables. Thus, this survey is representative of both the self-identifying Mormon and former Mormon populations in the United States, with a margin of error of ± 3 and ± 4 percent, respectively. More information about the survey methodology and assessments of its representativeness can be found on the methodology page.
How is the survey being used?
The survey data was originally collected to form the basis of The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church, written by Jana Riess and published by Oxford University Press. The data is also being analyzed and disseminated in a variety of formats by Jana Riess and Benjamin Knoll, including blog posts, conference presentations, media interviews, etc. A full listing is available here.
When will the survey data be publicly released?
The data is currently being analyzed by the survey authors for research purposes. They are tentatively planning to publicly release the data for other interested researchers sometime after 2020. The data will be available here and on the ARDA database.
Was this survey IRB approved?
Yes. The survey design and question wording received approval from Centre College’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) on September 1, 2016, Centre College IRB Assurance #FWA00017871, IRB approval code 140-Knoll-NMS-F16.
Was this survey approved by the LDS Church?
The Next Mormons Survey is an independent academic research survey, and is not formally connected to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As such, no approval was needed.
Who are the survey directors?
Jana Riess and Benjamin Knoll. We are academic and professional researchers who study religion in American society, with a particular interest in Mormonism. More information about us is available here.
Why do you use the term “Mormon” when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has requested that the full name of the church be used and the term “Mormon” be avoided?
The survey was designed and fielded in 2016 and the title of the Oxford University Press book (“The Next Mormons“) was finalized in 2017, both of which happened before the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints indicated its preference in August 2018 to avoid the term “Mormon” in reference to the Church.
Also, despite the preferences of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the terms “Mormon” and “Mormonism” remain legitimate scholarly labels to refer to the religious branches that stem from Joseph Smith’s Latter-day Saint movement, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.