Old English sheep dog

There is a massive number of old survey results from the last 50+ years which are included and easily accessible in the Archive of Market and Social Research. Above all, these serve to show how much we have changed as a people in that time: highlighting a few significant examples of this, we no longer smoke, believe in God, and go to church, but we are fatter, travel more, and wear a seat belt when driving. But we always had doubts about Europe.

 From some old Gallup surveys from 1938-1939 we know that:

  • Back then, 83% of men and 39% of women said they smoked; now, the figures are 17% and 13% respectively.
  • Back then, 68% of us attended a place of worship regularly or occasionally; now, only 6% of us do so on a typical Sunday.
  • Back then, only 24% owned their own homes; now 50% do so.

From an Opinion Research Centre Poll in 1968:

  • 80% of us believed there is a God; now, only 28% do so. From research in 2018 for the Independent, 65% think of chocolate when asked about Easter, while only 12% think of Jesus. We have therefore become a heathen, chocoholic nation

From old Harris Polls 1969-1972:

  • 72% had never been abroad; now, only 8% have never done so.
  • Only 38% had a day-to-day bank account; it’s now 97%.
  • 62% were against our entry to the Common Market, (but from an Omnisis poll we know that 60% of us now wish to re-join).
  • Only 33% of drivers used a seat belt; it wasn’t legally required then, and it is 98% now.
  • 84% backed hanging; now, 65% want it brought back.
  • 30% in the UK believed flying saucers were real; a recent poll found that 50% of us believe that extra-terrestrial beings are real.

In 1983 The College of Physicians said 31% of us were overweight (BMI 25+) and a further 9% were obese; by 2022, these figures had increased to 64% overweight and 26% clinically obese.


Harris Polls 1969-72 and Gallup Polls from 1969 (under the affiliated name ‘British Institute of Public Opinion) are accessed in the AMSR Archive under ‘Opinion Poll Reports’. The Opinion Research Centre poll was conducted for the Independent Television Authority in 1968-69 and published in 1970.

Contributed by  Peter Bartram
Date posted: 09 May 2024.


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