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Hélène Riffault

Hélène Riffault (1921-2001) was a leading figure in European public opinion research. She was a graduate of the renowned HEC Paris business school. In 1938, she co-founded, with Jean Stoetzel, the Institut Français d'Opinion Publique (IFOP). IFOP was the first polling firm in France and one of the first in the world, undertaking seminal research on political and social issues.

Riffault worked for IFOP for decades. Among the research she conducted during her time at IFOP was the landmark study “How Poverty is Perceived,” which measured public attitudes about the causes and components of poverty. She then headed the Facts and Opinions Institute from 1980-1987. In 1981, Riffault played a major role in launching the European Values Survey, a key resource for European cross-country comparisons. She was also a lead researcher on the Eurobarometer for several years.

Riffault published a large number of academic articles with a focus on European public opinion and was active in several professional associations, including the network of international Gallup affiliates. She was a founding member of the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR) and received the organization's highest honor, the Helen S. Dinerman Award, in 1994. 

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Le Monde: Obituary