Measuring public attitudes towards Scotland's constitutional future

AQMeN and ScotCen Social Research were awarded a grant by the ESRC to conduct a survey of Scottish attitudes to independence and devolution. The survey was a module of questions in the annual Scottish Social Attitudes Survey in 2013 and 2014. Results  provided objective evidence to inform the debate leading up to the independence referendum in autumn 2014.

Maximising the impact of research on the independence debate requires a combination of timely evidence and the capacity to analyse and disseminate this to its fullest potential. This project informed debate in the lead-up to the referendum in autumn 2014 by enhancing analysis of and extending the data available on public attitudes to Scotland’s constitutional future.

This project was part of the ESRC-funded Future of UK and Scotland Initiative (now the Centre on Constitutional Change). Visit website >


Findings were published in a special edition of the journal Scottish Affairs in February 2014. Download articles >

Findings were also published on the What Scotland Thinks blog. Visit website >

Findings were presented at a number of public events:
Scottish Social Attitudes 2014. The independence referendum campaign: Help or hindrance? Details >
Launch of a special edition of the journal Scottish Affairs. Details >
Scottish Social Attitudes 2013. The Referendum: What Scotland far. Details >
Through the public's eye: Researching attitudes on Scotland's constitutional future with the Scottish Social Attitudes survey. Details >

Training in quantitative analysis

By providing training in the analysis of existing data from the Scottish Social Attitudes survey , the project created new expertise in the design and analysis of social surveys. Trainees learnt how to design and analyse data in the time series, and how to contribute to public debate through the use of  timely evidence on key issues in the year prior to the referendum. The results were published in the journal Scottish Affairs in February 2014.

Policy relevance: 
Policy makers at both the Scottish and the UK levels gained insight from the research into how the general public responded to particular aspects of the independence debate, and to various constitutional options that Scotland faced. The capacity of policy makers to anticipate public responses was thus strengthened.
January, 2013 to August, 2014

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