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Angus Campbell: A Pioneer in Social Indicators and Social Reporting

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Angus Campbell (1910–1980) was a pioneer in studies of social indicators of wellbeing or quality of life research. He was born in Indiana, raised in Portland, Oregon, earned his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Oregon in 1931 and 1932, respectively. In 1936 he completed his Ph.D. at Stanford University under E.R. Hilgard.

In 1946 Rensis Likert and some colleagues convinced the University of Michigan to establish the Institute for Social Research. For the first 25 years of ISR’s existence, Likert was its Director and Campbell was Director of its’ Survey Research Center. When Likert retired in 1970, Campbell replaced him.

In 1967 the Survey Research Center was asked by the National Commission on Civil Disorders to undertake a study of race problems in 15 major cities, some of which had experienced severe disturbances in the previous summer. This led to publication with H. Schuman of “Racial Attitudes in 15 American Cities” in Supplemental Studies for the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (1968). Three years later Campbell published White Attitudes Toward Black People (1971). Both of these studies were ground-breaking for understanding race relations in the United States.

The two most important studies for quality of life research by Campbell followed his 1971 publication on white attitudes. With Philip Converse, Campbell edited a collection of papers focused on subjective indicators called The Human Meaning of Social Change (1972). While at Stanford, Campbell became a close friend of Kurt Lewin, who developed aspiration theory. This theory later became central to the explanatory model used in his magnum opus written with Philip E. Converse and Willard L. Rodgers, The Quality of American Life: Perceptions, Evaluations and Satisfactions (1976). One way to measure the impact of these volumes on quality of life research is to note that one or the other volume was cited in 11 of the 17 (65 %) citation classics from Social Indicators Research (Michalos 2005).

Among other achievements, Campbell received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Association for Public Opinion Research (1962), an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland (1970), the Lazarsfeld Award from the Council for Applied Social Research (1977), the Lasswell Award from the International Society of Political Psychology (1980), and was elected as a member of the US National Academy of Sciences (1980).


  • Campbell, A. (1971). White attitudes toward black people. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan.

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  • Campbell, A., & Converse, P. E. (Eds.). (1972). The human meaning of social change. New York: Russell Sage.

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  • Campbell, A., & Schuman, H. (1968). Racial attitudes in fifteen American cities, in supplemental studies for the national advisory commission on civil disorders. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

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  • Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., & Rodgers, W. L. (1976). The quality of American life, perceptions, evaluations and satisfactions. New York: Russell Sage.

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  • Michalos, A. C. (Ed.). (2005). Citation classics from social indicators research. Dordrecht: Springer.

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Correspondence to Alex C. Michalos.

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Michalos, A.C. Angus Campbell: A Pioneer in Social Indicators and Social Reporting. Applied Research Quality Life 9, 781–782 (2014).

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