From 1940 to 1977, the Bureau of Applied Social Research conducted surveys on a wide range of social, professional, and academic issues. BASR was founded by Paul Lazarsfeld in 1937 as the Office of Radio Research.  In 1940, it became part of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Lazarsfeld was a pioneering sociologist whose work on social research methodology revolutionized the field. He has been referred to as the founder of modern empirical sociology.  Lazarsfeld also introduced the two-step flow of communication theory, which describes the flow of ideas from mass media through opinion leaders to the general public.  Read more about Paul Lazarsfeld in his Pioneers in Public Opinion Research profile.

The BASR polls utilized Lazarsfeld’s survey methods to gain insight into social processes. behaviors, academia, and general public opinion. The Roper Center houses 27 of these unique studies, featuring a variety of sample types. There are several studies focused on academics and students, including Israeli students studying in the United States, Barnard College alumni, and Columbia University faculty and students. Local and community samples feature white housewives in the Oranges, New Jersey, adults in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Puerto Rican adults living in New York City. People in specific situations or occupations are also surveyed, such as clinic patients, army trainees, and plaintiffs, defendants, and inter-pleaders.