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MOSAiCH “Measurement and Observation of Social Attitudes in Switzerland”

MOSAiCH is a cross-sectional survey that focuses on the Swiss population’s values and attitudes toward a wide range of social issues.

The respondents are drawn from a probabilistic sample representing the country’s population aged 18 and above. While Mosaich was conducted every two years as a face-to-face survey until 2017, it will be carried out once a year from 2018 onwards as a self-administered survey (online/paper).

In terms of content, the survey is designed in order to allow both comparisons over time and across countries. The thematic focus lies on the current module of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP). This international part is supplemented by selected socio-demographic questions, as well as a module composed of Switzerland specific questions. The questions of this Swiss part are determined by means of a public call and either expand the ISSP module thematically or measure other dimensions that are of special interest to Switzerland.

The MOSAiCH survey was founded in 2005; selected parts of the survey, however, have been administered in Switzerland for more than 20 years (see also: The survey modules of MOSAiCH and its predecessors since 1987).

Main aims:

  • The aim of the MOSAiCH survey is to produce internationally comparable data of very high quality that document the Swiss population’s attitudes and opinions on a wide spectrum of social issues.
  • The annual call for question contributions aims to provide interested researchers with a powerful tool to collect representative data for their own research projects. These data are also freely available to the wider scientific public.

Structure and Funding

MOSAiCH is financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and directed by the FORS Team for International Surveys (Swiss centre of expertise in the social sciences). Under the lead of Dr. Michèle Ernst Staehli, the Team for International Surveys performs the following tasks:

  • general planning and organizing of the survey,
  • development of the Swiss part of the questionnaire,
  • translation of the current ISSP-Module from English into three national languages (French, German, and Italian),
  • sample drawing for Switzerland,
  • development of specific survey methods, and
  • cleaning, documentation and processing of the MOSAiCH-Data.

Coordination of the International Social Survey Program (ISSP)

The ISSP is a cross-national collaboration program that coordinates and runs annual surveys on important social science topics. Established in 1984 by its founding members Australia, Germany, Great Britain and the US, the ISSP ( counts by now more than 47 member countries. Since its foundation, over one million respondents from all over the world have participated in the ISSP surveys.

The ISSP is organized mainly through a rotating secretariat, a drafting group for modules that decides on the annual topics and a methodology committee that is responsible for quality specifications and assurance. The general meeting – made up of all the member states – develops the source questionnaire, chooses the members of the working groups and takes strategic decisions.

In the past years, Switzerland has been strongly engaged in different ISSP working groups. At present, it is involved in the methodology committee as Convenor and in several ISSP Research Groups (Non-Response, Mixed-Mode, Translation, Weighting, Demographics). Additionally, Switzerland is member of the Drafting Group that prepared the “Social Networks and Social Resources” Module for the ISSP 2017 edition.




The respondents are drawn from a probabilistic sample representing the countries’ population aged 18 and above. A net sample size of at least 1,000 respondents is requested. MOSAiCH being considered a survey of national importance to Switzerland, since 2010 a sample of individuals can be drawn randomly from the sampling register of the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, according to Art. 13c, para. 2, lett. d, order of 30th June 1993 regarding the implementation of federal statistical surveys.

Data collection:

  • Yearly cross-sectional survey with at least 1 follow-up interview for the respondents
  • Self-administered questionnaires (web/paper)
  • Targeted net sample size for the follow-up interviews: 1000 answers

In order to increase the quality of the data, the methodical procedure is constantly being adapted and improved. These include, inter alia, a rigorous translation procedure of the questionnaire (TRAPD), an optimal random sampling and extensive measures to increase the response rate.


From 2018, the MOSAiCH questionnaire will basically consist of two parts: a main survey with the current module of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) and selected socio-demographic questions, as well as and one or two follow-up surveys with Switzerland-specific questions.

Main survey:

The ISSP-module
Every year, the international ISSP drafting group proposes a survey module on a specific topic. Since the aim is to make results internationally comparable, the questionnaire is designed so that it can be applied in very different countries and cultures. The ISSP topics are periodically repeated, with most of the questions remaining unchanged from round to round. This allows for the observation of change over time (see Summary table of the survey modules).

In each round of the survey, general information about the person such as age, gender, marital status or employment is collected. This section varies in each edition, depending on the topic of the ISSP module of the corresponding year.

Follow-up survey(s):

The Swiss module
In each edition of MOSAiCH, the ISSP module is complemented by one or two follow-up surveys. These additional questions are only administered in Switzerland and either expand the ISSP module thematically or add aspects of particular interest to Switzerland.

FORS offers interested researchers the opportunity to implement own questions or question modules in this Swiss section (since 2012 by means of an open call on the FORS website, see MOSAiCH Call). The submitted proposals are examined by the MOSAiCH Commission and then compiled and adapted by the FORS Team for International Surveys.

The document MOSAiCH collaborations provides a summary of the external collaborations so far.

Switzerland-Europe: Eurobarometer (EB) and Eurobarometer in Switzerland (EBCH)
From 1999 to 2003, Switzerland conducted selected modules of the European Commission’s Eurobarometer Survey (in the first year as an independent survey, from 2000 to 2003 in combination with the ISSP).The modules of this Europe-wide survey have been complemented by additional questions that primarily focus on the Swiss population’s attitudes and opinions towards national institutions and the European Union. These additional questions are mainly gathered in the modules EBCH – Swiss politics and EBCH – Relationship EU-CH.

While the Eurobarometer (EB) has been abandoned in Switzerland in 2003, an important number of the EBCH-questions has been incorporated into the MOSAiCH-project (2005-2017). The document Vue d’ensemble des questions de l’Eurobaromètre en Suisse presents an overview of the repeated questions and their implementation in different survey projects from 1999 until now.

From 2018, the EUBCH questions will only be included in the MOSAiCH survey on a selective basis, depending on the specific subject of the ISSP module.


After fieldwork is completed, FORS will review and verify the MOSAiCH data and process it, so it can be integrated into the existing data archive on the FORS NESSTAR server. The anonymized datasets of MOSAiCH are freely available to researchers and other interested people after previous registration and agreement to the data use conditions. The documentation of the variables can be consulted in French or German.

NESSTAR, however, provides only a limited set of the MOSAiCH-data. The overall dataset is available through the FORSbase data catalogue. The ISSP-data are additionally stored at the Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences (GESIS). There, you will find also the data sets of the other participating countries.

Researchers are requested to respect the data use conditions, in particular the proper citation in articles or other forms of publications (Citations). All publications that make reference to the MOSAiCH data must be communicated to the FORS International Surveys Team.

Important/useful links:


Since 2012, FORS offers interested researchers through an open call the possibility to contribute questions or question modules to the Swiss part of MOSAiCH. Researchers in social sciences are thus given the opportunity to collect representative data on their own research projects completely free of charge.

From 2018, FORS will continue to expand this service by providing researchers with more room for their own questions and by increasing the tendering frequency. The call for question contributions will be held annually instead of every two years.

The submitted proposals are examined by the MOSAiCH Commission and then compiled and adapted by the FORS Team for International Surveys.

Details of the criteria and conditions for submitting question or question modules can be found in the current call (see below).

Scientific Commission

The MOSAiCH scientific commission guarantees the strong interconnection of MOSAiCH with the Swiss research community and other authorities related to research in social sciences. The commission is mandated by the Foundation Board of FORS. According to its mandate, the duty of the commission is to guarantee the quality of the Swiss part of this research project and to strengthen the network of research in social sciences in Swiss universities and other concerned authorities.

Download Commission Mandate


  • Prof. Abdeljalil Akkari (Université de Genève)
  • Prof. Monica Budowski, (Universität Freiburg)
  • Prof. Axel Franzen (Universität Bern)
  • Prof. Eva Green (Université de Lausanne)
  • Prof. Spartaco Greppi (SUPSI, Lugano)
  • Prof. Dominique Joye (FORS/Université de Lausanne)
  • Prof. Georg Lutz (FORS/Université de Lausanne)
  • Prof. Bart Meuleman (KU Leuven, Belgium)
  • Prof. Thomas Volken (Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften)

Project Directors :

Dr. Michèle Ernst Stähli and Dr. Marlène Sapin (FORS, Lausanne)


The MOSAiCH-ISSP call 2019 is out now!

All relevant information on the current call for question contributions can be found here:

CALL MOSAiCH 2019 (pdf)

Previous calls can be found here: