The questionnaires are based on social attitudes research and modelled on similar long standing survey instruments in terms of content and development methodology. A theoretically grounded approach is advocated for designing new modules, ensuring that the questions included, test notable hypotheses or relate to key conceptual constructs or national priority goals. Questionnaires are piloted to test the functioning of questions and sequencing of modules. As for translation protocols, SASAS aims to achieve a principle of equivalence.  The source question is designed in English and then translated into other official languages. Translations are reviewed, adjudicated and pretested before finalisation. All instruments, protocols and forms are reviewed by the HSRC’s Research Ethics Committee.

The SASAS questionnaires cover a wide variety of topics that tap into notable issues that are of relevance to contemporary South Africa. Some questions are repeated in each round of the survey (‘core questions’) to monitor change and continuity over time. In addition, each round of interviewing accommodates rotating modules on specific themes to provide detailed attitudinal evidence to inform policy and academic debate. Each questionnaire also includes standard demographic and background variables.