WASHINGTON, DC: The Gallup Organization has measured and tracked the public's attitudes on virtually every political, social, and economic issue of the day since the 1930s. It is arguably the research organization best known to the general public across the western hemisphere. 

Its latest ambitious plan, the Gallup World Poll, will see the company extend its reach across the entire globe with an annual global survey of opinions and behaviour patterns via interviews in 140 countries representing 95% of the world's adult population.

Moreover, the firm claims to have committed to conducting the annual study for the next hundred years – a bold [if not rash] promise that seemingly takes no account of such disruptive factors as climate change or armed strife. 

Gallup has designed a multi-language questionnaire that covers a wide variety of issues while still being  meaningful to every culture.

It contains a set of core questions plus region-specific queries developed in collaboration with behavioural economists, and which will be asked across countries over time to enable comparison of data and trend spotting.

Declares Gallup chairman/ceo Jon Clifton: "Our biggest challenge was choosing a methodology to ensure the whole set is comparable.

"For instance, when we ask about life satisfaction, everyone from a Manhattan socialite to a Masai mother has to be asked the same question every time in the same way with the same meaning and in their own languages so the answers can be statistically comparable."

To achieve this Gallup has created a set of benchmarks so leaders can see trends and patterns emerging on issues such as wellbeing, war and peace, law and order, healthcare, personal economics, poverty, and the environment.

These are correlated with world developments such as GDP, to help leaders understand the broad context of national interests.

The design, engineering and first year of global data collection have already been completed using, says Gallup, "every statistical technique known to man" to analyze exactly what the world is thinking.

According to Clifton the conclusions are complex: "For instance, when you dig deeply into the hopes, fears, motivations, and satisfactions of one billion Muslims, you realize how much more complicated their attitudes and opinions are than conventional wisdom would lead us to believe.

"It's the same with the three billion people who live on $2 a day or less. What they're thinking is very different from what most government agencies and NGOs understand and report."

Further information on the World Poll can be downloaded by clicking here.

Data sourced from mrweb.com (UK); additional content by WARC staff