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Frequently asked questions

Did you receive a SOM questionnaire? See below for answers to the most commonly asked questions about the survey. If you have further questions, feel free to contact the SOM Institute at info@som.gu.se.

What is the SOM Institute and the SOM survey?

The SOM Institute is an independent survey research organisation at the University of Gothenburg. It's primary goal is to identify trends and changes in public opinion, media habits and attitudes to society in the Swedish population. The name SOM is an abbreviation of Society, Opinion and Media. The SOM survey has been conducted yearly in Sweden since 1986 and is one of the most important surveys in Sweden. SOM surveys are never about consumption of products and services. Instead our goal is to learn more about the society we live in.

► Who is selected to participate in SOM surveys?

The respondents of the SOM survey are selected by chance. Individuals are randomly chosen from the Swedish population and address register SPAR using a method called systematic probability sampling. The group of people asked to participate is supposed to represent the entire Swedish population aged 16-85. Since we rely on chance to obtain a sample that is representative of the Swedish population, it is important that you, and nobody else, answer the questions.

► Why can't I have somebody else answer the survey for me?
The scientific method that the survey is based on random selection of respondents. If somebody else answers in your place the survey results risk becoming less accurate.

► Why are my answers so important? I’m not even interested in social issues – I simply don’t know much about the kinds of things you are asking me about.
To us, all answers are equally important. The questions have nothing to do with a respondent’s knowledge. Instead, we ask about how you feel about things and about the way you behave. We may also ask whether you are familiar or unfamiliar with certain issues. In public opinion research, it is just as important to find out what you are unfamiliar with as it is to identify your attitudes towards something.

► The questionnaire asks questions about working life. I don’t work. Do you still want me to respond?
Yes! If you used to work, then answer the questions with your most recent work in mind. Otherwise, simply skip the questions you are unable to answer. What’s most important is that you answer the remaining questions as far as possible.

► Why is the survey so extensive?
The SOM surveys enable researchers to explore people’s attitudes towards a range of different things. Since many different types of researchers are involved in the surveys, the questionnaires may contain quite a few questions. On the other hand, it also adds variety to the questionnaires and hopefully makes the questions more interesting to respond to. The great scope of the questions gives the researchers unique opportunities to create a comprehensive description of Swedes’ attitudes, opinions and habits.

► Will I get compensated for answering the survey?
Since our research is for the benefit of the society we live in, it is our hope that you will be motivated to participate regardless of compensation. However, as compensation for answering most of our surveys, the participant will receive a lottery ticket or a reward of similar value.

► How can I remain anonymous at the same time as you have my address and telephone number?
We realise it may seem strange, but it’s really not. This is how it works:

  • People, including information about address, gender and age, are randomly picked from the Swedish population and address register SPAR. 
  • The information is sent directly to the company in charge of distribution and collection of questionnaires. This means that the SOM staff never get to see the list of selected names.
  • The survey company gives each questionnaire an identification number (see the back of the questionnaire). The purpose of this is to keep track of whether or not your questionnaire has been returned. This way, you don’t receive any unnecessary reminders.
  • Once the questionnaires have been submitted, all responses are converted to codes consisting of digits. The data we get to see are linked only to your identification number and never to your name and address. The list of names selected for the survey is deleted by the survey company to ensure that the SOM staff will never see the personal information used to collect the questionnaires. Furthermore, all personnel involved in the study are bound by professional secrecy.


The SOM Institute

The SOM Institute
Box 710
S-405 30 Gothenburg

Visiting Address:
Seminariegatan 1B
413 13 Gothenburg

46 (0)31 786 3300

46 (0)31 786 4780


Page Manager: The SOM-institute|Last update: 9/25/2018

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