Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann


Opinion pollster

DAAD One-Year Scholarship 1937

Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann DAAD

"Professor Allensbach" was the headline the Süddeutsche Zeitung gave its obituary for the famous opinion pollster Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann in 2010. Her name and that of the public opinion research institute she founded in Allensbach had become synonymous. During the Second World War Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann brought public opinion research from America to Germany and eventually turned it into a tool without which politics would be inconceivable in the Federal Republic. Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, the not undisputed "grand dame of public opinion research", found her life topic abroad.

The scholarship helped me discover my life topic.
Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann

In 1937, she travelled to the United States as a DAAD scholarship holder to collect material for her doctoral thesis. Noelle-Neumann, who was born in 1916, experienced her arrival in the USA as a culture shock. US university culture and the many contacts she made there shaped the rest of her life. The key figure was George Gallup, the father of American public opinion research. When she read his opinion polls in local papers, she wrote to her doctoral supervisor: "I'd like to do my doctorate on this subject." In 1940, she turned this wish into reality, after which she worked for various German daily newspapers before setting up the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research in 1947 jointly with her later husband Erich Peter Neumann. Her second husband was Professor Heinz Maier-Leibnitz. After his death in 2000, she took on her maiden name again as Elisabeth Noelle, but continued to publish under the name of Noelle-Neumann.

All areas of Germans' life are still subjected to thorough investigation in Allensbach: from election forecasts and Germans' attitudes to mobile phones to New Year resolutions – the institute on the banks of Lake Constance still has its finger on the pulse of the German people.

Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann died in Allensbach on 25 March 2010 at the age of 93.