Surveying has become one of our popular pastimes. Everywhere you turn, it seems, someone is doing a survey on some new trend. But these surveys can tell us a lot about ourselves - where we are and where we are going. Some give us a yardstick to see how we compare with "average." And some are just plain fun. Here's a collection of some of the latest findings.

- Times have changed.

Nearly 60 percent of adults are staying home more than they did just five years ago, more than two-thirds prefer tastes that are less sweet, and almost all are eating foods they wouldn't touch as kids.

Those are results from a survey conducted by Canada Dry Ginger Ale of folks over 30 - comparing current lifestyles and attitudes with those of their teen years.

The survey upholds the notion of "cocooning" and the label of "couch potato." Only one in five of the respondents is spending less time at home that he did five years ago.

As far as foods go, more than two-thirds say they prefer foods and beverages that are less sweet than what they liked as teens. Leading the list of foods once scorned was broccoli; 60 percent of the respondents said they wouldn't eat it when they were younger. Also mentioned were fish, liver, oatmeal, cottage cheese and Chinese food. Most say they now will eat these foods.

Did anyone grow up to be what he or she wanted? Not many. Then they dreamed of being a spy, a rock star, a famous athlete or a well-paid professional. The survey shows that only 13 percent are actually doing what they envisioned as a youngster.

Expectations about romantic partners have also changed. When asked to rank the seven qualities they valued most in their boyfriend or girlfriend when they first began to date, looks came first by a wide margin (58 percent). When asked what means the most now, sensitivity ranks first, followed by honesty, intelligence and humor. Looks come in fifth.

The dream car in high school, for 79 percent, was a sports car or convertible. Nearly one-quarter actually realized their dreams, but 59 percent are driving around in sedate sedans.

Most leisure time is spent in the same ways as when they were younger, but the balance has shifted. Adults spend more time reading and less time playing sports and socializing.

Survey respondents say the intangibles are the true rewards of getting older: wisdom, confidence and understanding.

And finally: algebra, which many of us though we'd never need. A substantial 38 percent say they use it often in their careers or business, and 14 percent claim it has helped them learn to think logically.

- Nearly one in three Americans are exercising more often than they were just one year ago, according to results of the latest AmeriPoll.

Overall, 29 percent of the people surveyed were getting in more exercise this year than last. Only 18 percent said they were less active, while 52 percent said they were exercising about the same. Women who said they were exercising more outnumbered men by a slight margin.

When asked whether they were satisfied with their current weight, almost 60 percent of the people said yes. However, nearly half of the women were dissatisfied.

Nine out of 10 Americans are optimistic about their health. When asked to compare their health to others their own age, 39 percent said they were more healthy.

- Bathtime behavior of youngsters is the subject of "The Electric Company's" Splish-Splash poll.

Researchers at the magazine found that 80 percent of 6- to 9-year-olds surveyed enjoy taking baths, especially bubble baths; and approximately the same number say they always wash behind their ears. The majority say they stay in the tub until their fingers "are wrinkled and pruney."

Approximately one-fourth of the respondents take seven baths a week.

Plastic cups and toy boats lead the list of things that accompany kids into the bathtub. Dolls, trucks and rubber ducks were also mentioned.

At shampoo time, the respondents offer creative solutions to keeping soap out of their eyes. Half said they shut their eyes tightly to prevent soap from stinging. One-fourth said they lean their heads way back as far as they can, while another 10 percent use towels to cover their eyes while shampooing. A few just scream for their mothers at shampoo time.

- The men of tomorrow won't shun housework, if the attitudes reflected in today's home ec classes are any indication, says the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. The industry association surveyed teenage students nationwide on their use of household appliances and their attitudes toward housework.

Enrollment is most high school home ec classes is 70 percent female/30 percent male, but 50/50 in food classes.

Not surprisingly teenage females endorsed housework-sharing in high percentages. But even the majority of males voted for sharing food shopping (56 percent), dishwashing (61 percent), housecleaning (57 percent) and laundry (57 percent).

The survey also examined current work patterns and found that while females handle more tasks, males pitch in to a considerable extent: two-thirds prepare meals for themselves and over one-fourth make family meals; over half wash dishes, vacumm and make the beds; about 40 percent set the table and/or clear it; almost one-third do their own laundry; one-fourth iron their own clothes and about 15 percent do the ironing and laundry for other family members; and over one-fifth clean the entire house.

- A nationwide survey of career women and their lifestyles was conducted by Working Woman magazine. The survey found:

-- 61 percent of the respondents report they buy fancy and expensive takeout foods, although half feel guilty serving prepared foods to their families. Only one-third say they would rather cook and save money.

-- 40 percent of the career women report that they miss lunch - to save either time or calories. One-third skip breakfast.

-- Two-thirds of the women remember family time around the dinner table with a sense of comfort; 81 percent of those with pre-adolescent children say they try to re-create that scene in their own home.

-- 31 percent of the single women say they cook meals just for themselves, and many see it as a way to unwind after work.

-- One-fifth of the respondents are always on a diet.

-- 72 percent of the women say they are eating less red meat; 77 percent are frying up fewer eggs; 79 percent have cut down on salt; 71 percent say they eat less sugar; 65 percent are eating more fiber.

-- 53 percent of the career women say that they use the microwave practically every day.

- A similar NO NONSENSE Women's Attitude Survey, conducted by the Gallup organization, shows that today's working women feel pretty good about their juggling act.

Three-fourths of the working women interviewed say the quality of their family relationships is "very good." Another 23 percent rate their family relationships as "fairly good."

Other findings:

-- 62 percent feel the quality of their life is better now than when they were growing up.

-- 81 percent consider family life as a source of comfort - not a source of stress.

-- 61 percent said family, not friends, are most likely to come through in a time of crisis.

However, 75 percent also admit that they suffer at least occasionally from stress.

- More insight into attitudes of today's women comes from a survey sponsored by LIFETIME Cabletelevision Network.

The national sampling of women aged 18 to 64 shows:

-- 85 percent of those polled said they would remarry their current husband, if they had to do it all again.

-- Only 15 percent said it would threaten their relationships if they earned more money than their mate.

-- Nearly half of the female public thinks it is still very important for a man to pick up the tab in a restaurant.

-- There are just as many women getting married in the 55-64 age bracket as there are in the 25-34 age bracket.

-- 57 percent of the women polled said they have authority over household spending.

-- Working mothers with children at home feel their children benefit, not suffer, because they are working women. However, women under age 35 are much more likely than older women to want their daughters to work.

-- A 1974 study showed that 60 percent of the female population wanted to be full-time homemakers. Today that figure is 15 percent.

-- Despite the importance of work, appearance is still the single most important factor affecting how a woman feels about herself.