Racism. Sexism. Euthanasia. Changing the flag. Behind the din of talkback polemic, provocative newspaper columns and dinner table debates, a small group of researchers have been quietly feeling out where our collective sentiments on hot-button topics actually lie.
Are Kiwis becoming more sexist? Quite the opposite, but at a gradual rate.
Are Aucklanders really the least humble Kiwis? Comparatively, sure.
Were we always going to vote to stick with the Union Jack? Yes.
Last July, when a nationwide row about racism erupted on the back of Asian buyers being blamed for Auckland's housing woes, these researchers happily demonstrated to us how our attitudes to Asian people were actually becoming more positive.
They've confirmed things we knew were true - Facebook makes us feel bad about our bodies - as well as things we wished weren't: Maori people who "look Maori" have a tougher time securing a mortgage.
Any question we might have about who we are as a nation - why do we deny climate change? are single people really happier? do better-off people underestimate poverty? - this team can answer it.
More importantly, they can track how our views are shifting over time.
From an office in the University of Auckland's Human Sciences Building, Associate Professor Chris Sibley monitors these subtle evolutions in our social posture.
He curates what's called the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study - a treasure trove of a data resource that can gauge the outlooks of some 20,000 Kiwis.
The programme - now bringing together researchers from Auckland, Victoria, Canterbury, Otago and Massey Universities - recently celebrated the publication of its 80th scientific paper.
Each day, Dr Sibley and PhD student Yanshu Huang are met with a new wave of filled-in questionnaires from a huge sample group constantly being quizzed on matters like feelings of warmth or anger towards different groups, or trust in various institutions.
The central questions behind the effort itself are obvious: why do we hold the values we do, which ones are changing, and how?
"For example, one of the interesting things that this type of data can be used to look at is 'why do some people change more than others' or 'why do some people stay so consistent in their values over time' whereas other people tend to change?", Dr Sibley told the Herald.
"To look at questions like this, you need longitudinal data."
In 2009, the literature landscape in the space was a patchwork of different studies, typically limited in scope and capturing just one moment in time.
When the NZAVS launched that year, its mission wasn't just to probe deeper, but revisit the issues over a period of two decades.
"For example, we've been tracking rates of sexism since we began in 2009, and we can now confidently state that we are seeing a gradual, but steady, decline in sexism in the New Zealand population.
"The key to our research project is that we can quantify this change, we can model exactly how quickly sexism is decreasing and to what degree - it's a small change each year, but it's reliably there in the data."
Another big gap in the research was data focused purely on the Kiwi experience.
"New Zealand is unique, and yet most of the big longitudinal datasets in social psychology are conducted overseas. So we needed something of our own that was focused on the New Zealand context, and on issues relevant to New Zealand."
At the outset, there were many doubts about whether the project could survive.
But a seed grant Dr Sibley received from the University of Auckland proved enough to fund the study for its first few years.
He and his colleagues began with a sample of around 6500 registered voters.
Today, that figure is over 18,000, with a recent analysis showing comparatively few respondents were dropping out.
Part of the mix are people from different ages, faiths, regions and ethnicities, with new people added each year.
"Our sample is quite close to what you find in the population, although women are more likely to respond to the study than men," he said.
"This is not too much of a problem ... and [we] can correct for it."
The first major paper investigated whether the Christchurch earthquakes had prompted changes in religion and psychological adjustments, helping track recovery rates in mental health, anxiety, distress and depression.
That work has carried on with a recent study led by PhD student Lara Greaves and published in the major journal PLOS One. The study confirmed people living in moderately damaged areas of Christchurch had the slowest rate of psychological recovery, probably because of a lack of closure or settlement.
PhD student Petar Milojev has, meanwhile, published some of the first large-scale studies to look at change in personality over a lifespan, shedding light on such big questions as why people's openness and extraversion transforms over time.
His research has been able to show how personality is fairly malleable among young adults, then changes very little in the 30s to 50s, before becoming more malleable again among older-aged people.
Master's student Nicole Satherley has been working on a paper showing that positive feelings toward Asian people have been gradually and steadily increasing since 2009.
"This is really important because it shows that tolerance is increasing in New Zealand."
Ms Greaves' other work includes building a picture of sexual orientation in New Zealand.
"Most people seem to have heard the statistic that 10 per cent of people are 'gay', but actual research looking at how common different sexual orientations are is rare," Dr Sibley said.
Ms Greaves' results, however, indicated that 94.2 per cent of the population identified as straight or heterosexual, with the remainder gay or lesbian (2.6 per cent), bisexual (1.8 per cent), bicurious (0.6 per cent), "pansexual" (0.5 per cent) and "asexual" (0.3 per cent).
Such papers have drawn interest from researchers in Germany, the UK and the US, and across the Tasman.
"One of the great things is that we ... are starting to see some pay-offs," Dr Sibley said.
"The main reason to keep the study going is because it allows us to answer completely novel questions about how New Zealanders are doing, how we as a community and nation are changing over time - and to see the upcoming challenges we may have to face in the future."
Our views on euthanasia
Last year, 15,270 participants in the NZAVS were asked: "Suppose a person has a painful incurable disease. Do you think that doctors should be allowed by law to end the patient's life if the patient requests it?"
On a scale ranging from 1 (definitely no) to 7 (definitely yes), roughly two thirds were in favour, and mostly at the "definitely" end of the spectrum.