PULLMAN, Wash. — Social scientists say it would cost millions of dollars to replicate data sets donated to Washington State University by Leigh Stowell, the founder of Leigh Stowell and Company; a Seattle-based proprietary market research company. In the eyes of social scientists the information donated this summer is a priceless research resource that will allow WSU students, faculty, and researchers to develop and test a number of key hypotheses about social and political change in North America over the last decade.
“There are literally hundreds of research topic possibilities,” according to WSU political science professor Nick Lovrich who was instrumental in acquiring the gift and has worked with the company’s data sets in the past. The data gathered by Leigh Stowell and Company provides demographic information about most major metropolitan markets in the United States and Canada, including Seattle, Spokane and Vancouver. In addition, the data includes valuable psychographic information – responses to questions about attitudes and values — which will help social researchers determine the cultural assets, values and life style perspectives of distinct regions and demographic groups.
“Was there really a grunge factor in Seattle?” asks John Kicza, associate dean of College of Liberal Arts, as an example of a question researchers might answer. “With this information, you could really explore that question and even find out if there were lasting changes within the community because of it.” Other topics that WSU researchers may address include the decline of community and political involvement during the 20th century and how that phenomenon varies from one part of the country to the other.
The data donated to WSU comes from years of market specific research by Leigh Stowell and Company, covering the decade of the 1990s and beyond – to researchers a perfect slice of life from North America’s key metropolitan areas.
Lovrich and others at WSU see the data being used across the university, including research possibilities of great importance to the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service such as attitudes about crime and public safety, gender equity, fairness, bridging gender and racial differences and assessing the consequences of internet use.