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Phoenix Area Social Survey

Phoenix Area Social Survey

door-to-door-study-lgThe Phoenix Area Social Survey (PASS) parallels the Ecological Survey of Central Arizona/Survey 200 as a major component of CAP’s long-term monitoring program.  Every five years, the PASS research team surveys households in selected neighborhoods in the metropolitan Phoenix area to better understand people’s perceptions, values, and behaviors on several key environmental issues, including water conservation, urban growth, air pollution, land conservation, biodiversity and urban climate change, as well as their perceptions about neighborhood characteristics and attributes.

The neighborhoods included in the PASS are located near ecological monitoring sites to enable researchers to link social and biophysical data in analyses. For example, bird point count and vegetation composition surveys in the PASS neighborhoods allow researchers to link these data to PASS survey responses.

The 2001 pilot survey was conducted in eight neighborhoods in Phoenix with 302 respondents. This survey focused on understanding perceptions of environmental issues in the Phoenix area, neighborhood amenities and disamenities, social capital, and front and backyard landscaping preferences. Results are outlined in a report, The Phoenix Area Social Survey: Community and Environment in a Desert , as well as Kirby et al. 2006, Larsen and Harlan 2006, and Larsen et al. 2004 listed below. The PASS 2001  includes the pilot survey instrument.

The 2006 survey encompassed 40 neighborhoods and 800 households and introduced new suites of questions into the survey on support for environmental policies, trust in public institutions, health effects of the urban heat island, and environmental concern. These survey results are summarized in 2006 Highlights: Phoenix Area Social Survey Community and Environment in a Desert and formed the basis for several peer-reviewed publications. The PASS 2006  describes the full survey methodology and includes the survey instrument.

In 2011, the PASS research team added five new neighborhoods to the survey to incorporate areas co-located with other CAP research endeavors and to expand the sample of low-income neighborhoods. The survey continued its focus on environmental perceptions and concern, place attachment, neighborhood amenities and disamenities, support for environmental policies and the urban heat island but added questions relevant to the housing crisis and recession and access to healthy food in the city. The PASS 2011 includes the survey instrument and a description of methodology.

The 2017 PASS was redesigned to focus on 12 neighborhoods co-located with respect to a wide variety of CAP monitoring sites (Ecological Survey of Central Arizona sites, the Salt River, Tempe Town Lake, Indian Bend Wash, urban mountain parks, and South Phoenix). This change was made to increase the number of respondents (at least 35) in each neighborhood to allow for geographic comparisons across diverse local contexts. This redesign has also allowed the PASS research team to conduct integrated social-ecological analysis in the study neighborhoods. The 2017 PASS continued to explore themes common to previous surveys, including but not limited to landscape choices and land management practices; environmental risks and their mitigation, and personal satisfaction with local neighborhood conditions.

As of the summer of 2021, Professor Kelli Larson led the fifth version of the PASS using the same sampling design as in 2017. The same themes were the focus of the latest survey, though attention increased to human-wildlife interactions. The data are expected to be available by late fall 2021.

For more information, contact:

Key Personnel




Journal Articles


Larson, K. L., M. Fleeger, S. B. Lerman, M. M. Wheeler, R. Andrade, J. A. Clark, S. J. Hall and D. L. Narango. 2020. Who is abuzz about bees? Explaining residents' attitudes in Phoenix, Arizona. Urban Ecosystems DOI: 10.1007/s11252-020-01013-2. (link )

Pfeiffer, D., M. M. Ehlenz, K. L. Larson, S. Cloutier and R. Andrade. 2020. Do neighborhood walkability, transit, and parks relate to residents’ life satisfaction? Insights from Phoenix. Journal of the American Planning Association 86(2):171-187. DOI: 10.1080/01944363.2020.1715824. (link )

Wheeler, M. M., K. L. Larson and R. Andrade. 2020. Attitudinal and structural drivers of residential yard choices: A comparison of preferred versus actual landscapes. Urban Ecosystems DOI: 10.1007/s11252-020-00928-0. (link )

Smith, V. K., K. L. Larson and A. M. York. 2020. Using quality signaling to enhance survey response rates. Applied Economic Letters 27(11):951-954 . DOI: 10.1080/13504851.2019.1646869. (link )


Larson, K. L., E. A. Corley, R. Andrade, S. J. Hall, A. M. York, S. A. Meerow, P. J. Coseo, D. L. Childers and D. M. Hondula. 2019. Subjective evaluations of ecosystem services and disservices: an approach to creating and analyzing robust survey scales. Ecology and Society 24(2):Art 7. DOI: 10.5751/ES-10888-240207. (link )

Warren, P. S., S. B. Lerman, R. Andrade, K. L. Larson and H. L. Bateman. 2019. The more things change: Species losses detected in Phoenix despite stability in bird–socioeconomic relationships. Ecosphere 10(3):e02624. DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.2624. (link )

Andrade, R., K. L. Larson, D. M. Hondula and J. Franklin. 2019. Social-spatial analyses of attitudes toward the desert in a southwestern U.S. city. Annals of the American Association of Geographers 109(6):1845-1864. DOI: 10.1080 /24694452.2019.1580498. (link )


Fishman, J. and V. K. Smith. 2017. Latent tastes, incomplete stratification, and the plausibility of vertical sorting models. Environmental and Resource Economics 66(2):339–361. DOI: 10.1007/s10640-015-9952-7. (link )

Larson, K. L., J. Hoffmann and J. Ripplinger. 2017. Legacy effects and landscape choices in a desert city. Landscape and Urban Planning 165:22-29. DOI: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2017.04.014. (link )


Smith, V. K., S. L. Harlan, M. McLaen, J. Fishman, C. Valcarcel and M. L. Nation. 2016. Using household surveys to implement field experiments: The willingness to donate to food banks. Applied Economic Letters 23(13):969-972. DOI: 10.1080/13504851.2015.1125423. (link )

Jenerette, G. D., S. L. Harlan, A. Buyantuyev, W. L. Stefanov, J. Declet-Barreto, B. L. Ruddell, S. W. Myint, S. Kaplan and X. Li. 2016. Micro-scale urban surface temperatures are related to land-cover features and residential heat related health impacts in Phoenix, AZ USA. Landscape Ecology 31(4):745-760. DOI: 10.1007/s10980-015-0284-3. (link )


Harlan, S. L., G. Chowell, S. Yang, D. B. Petitti, E. J. Morales Butler, B. L. Ruddell and D. M. Ruddell. 2014. Heat-related deaths in hot cities: Estimates of human tolerance to high temperature thresholds. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 11(3):3304-3326. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph110303304. (link )

Ouyang, Y., E. A. Wentz, B. L. Ruddell and S. L. Harlan. 2014. A multi-scale analysis of the single-family residential water use in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 50(2):448-467. DOI: 10.1111/jawr.12133. (link )


Ruddell, D. M., S. L. Harlan, S. Grossman-Clarke and G. Chowell. 2012. Scales of perception: Public awareness of regional and neighborhood climates. Climatic Change 111(3-4):581-607. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-011-0165-y. (link )


Larson, K. L., A. Wutich, D. White, T. A. Munoz-Erickson and S. L. Harlan. 2011. Multifaceted perspectives on water risks and policies: A cultural domains approach in a Southwestern city. Human Ecology Review 18(1):75-87. (link )

Larson, K. L., D. C. Ibes and D. D. White. 2011. Gendered perspectives about water risks and policy strategies: A tripartite conceptual approach. Environment and Behavior 43(3):415-438. DOI: 10.1177/0013916510365253. (link )

Lerman, S. B. and P. S. Warren. 2011. The conservation value of residential yards: Linking birds and people. Ecological Applications 21(4):1327-1339. (link )


Yabiku, S. T., J. E. Glick, E. A. Wentz, S. A. Haas and L. Zhu. 2009. Migration, health, and environment in the desert Southwest. Population and Environment 30(4-5):131-138. DOI: 10.1007/s11111-009-0082-4. (link )

Larson, K. L., D. D. White, P. Gober, S. L. Harlan and A. Y. Wutich. 2009. Divergent perspectives on water resource sustainability in a public-policy-science context. Environmental Science and Policy 12(7):1012-1023. DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2009.07.012. (link )

Larson, K. L., D. G. Casagrande, S. L. Harlan and S. T. Yabiku. 2009. Residents' yard choices and rationales in a desert city: Social priorities, ecological impacts, and decision tradeoffs. Environmental Management 44(5):921-937. DOI: 10.1007/s00267-009-9353-1. (link )

Harlan, S. L., S. T. Yabiku, L. Larsen and A. J. Brazel. 2009. Household water consumption in an arid city: Affluence, affordance, and attitudes. Society and Natural Resources 22(8):691-709. DOI: 10.1080/08941920802064679. (link )


Harlan, S. L., A. J. Brazel, G. D. Jenerette, N. S. Jones, L. Larsen, L. Prashad and W. L. Stefanov. 2008. In the shade of affluence: The inequitable distribution of the urban heat island. Research in Social Problems and Public Policy 15:173-202. (link )


Kirby, A. M., S. L. Harlan, L. Larsen, E. J. Hackett, B. Bolin, A. L. Nelson, T. R. Rex and S. Wolf. 2006. Examining the significance of housing enclaves in the metropolitan United States of America. Housing, Theory and Society 23(1):19-33. DOI: 10.1080/14036090500435995. (link )

Larsen, L. and S. L. Harlan. 2006. Desert dreamscapes: Landscape preference and behavior. Landscape and Urban Planning 78(1-2):85-100. (link )

Harlan, S. L., A. J. Brazel, L. Prashad, W. L. Stefanov and L. Larsen. 2006. Neighborhood microclimates and vulnerability to heat stress. Social Science & Medicine 63(11):2847-2863. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.07.030. (link )


Larsen, L., S. L. Harlan, B. Bolin, E. J. Hackett, D. Hope, A. M. Kirby, A. L. Nelson, T. R. Rex and S. Wolf. 2004. Bonding and bridging: Understanding the relationship between social capital and civic action. Journal of Planning Education and Research 24(1):64-77. (link )

Book Chapters


Larson, K. L., D. C. Ibes and E. A. Wentz. 2013. Identifying the water conservation potential of neighborhoods in Phoenix, AZ: an integrated socio-spatial approach. Pp. 11-35 In: Lawrence, P. ed., Geospatial Approaches to Urban Water Resources. Vol 7. Springer Series. DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-4734-0_3.


Ruddell, D. M., S. L. Harlan, S. Grossman-Clarke and A. Buyantuyev. 2010. Risk and exposure to extreme heat in microclimates of Phoenix, AZ. Pp. 179-202 In: Showalter, P. S. and Y. Lu eds., Geospatial Techniques in Urban Hazard and Disaster Analysis. Springer-Verlag.

Conference Papers


Stefanov, W. L., L. Prashad, C. Eisinger, A. J. Brazel and S. L. Harlan. 2004. Investigation of human modifications of landscape and climate in the Phoenix, Arizona, metropolitan area using MASTER data. Pp. 1339-1347 Istanbul, Turkey. Invited presentation at the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing 20th Quadrennial Conference. . (link )

Working Papers


Smith, V. K., S. L. Harlan, M. McLaen, J. Fishman, C. Valcarcel and M. Nation. 2015. Compassion or cash: Evaluating survey response incentives and valuing public goods. NBER Working Paper Series 21288. DOI: 10.3386/w21288. (link )


Fishman, J. and V. K. Smith. 2013. A direct test of the “explanation” for incomplete stratification in vertical sorting models. NBER Working Paper Series 19387. (link )