Frequencies (descriptive statistics) - SPSS Base

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This article was reproduced from the Oregon State University Student Computing Facilities Wiki under the GNU Licence.


1. Simple Frequency Analysis Edit

In the DATA window, click on Statistics at the top of the data window, then click on Summarize, and finally click on Frequencies.

At this point, a "Frequencies" dialog box will appear. On the left side of the box is a list of all the variables in your data set. Click on one; it will then become highlighted. Click on the arrow next to the box, and the variable you have chosen will move into the Variable(s) box. When you have selected all the variables you want, click on OK to run the analysis.

Your results (output) will now appear in the OUTPUT window (which should move on top automatically).

This kind of summary is appropriate for variables that have a moderate number of discrete values such as years of education. For continuous variables, consider the Descriptives or Examine procedures.

If you just want a quick look at the values of a variable, you can see a display via the menu Data>Define Variable Properties, where you can assign value labels and other metadata.

2. Adding statistical output Edit

You may be interested in obtaining more descriptive information about your variables. Go back to the Frequencies dialog box in the Data Window (Statistics - Summarize - Frequencies or click on the fourth icon: Recall dialog box and select Frequencies from the list). You can run statistics on the same variables you had previously selected or if you would like to run statistics on different variables than the ones you ran in the previous analysis, highlight them all, click on the arrow to move them out of the Variables box, and then select new variables from the list on the left. You can also click on Reset, which returns the box to its initial values. Click on Statistics at the bottom of the box. To get the mean for each of the variables in your list, click on Mean, under Central Tendency. You are welcome to choose other statistics as well. Click on Continue to get back to the first dialog box. Click on OK to run the analysis.

3. Producing bar charts Edit

You have the option of producing a graphical representation of your frequency table. If you would like to produce a bar chart, go to the Frequencies dialog box, Reset (if you have been running statistics above), and pick desired variable(s) to move into the Variable(s) box. Click on Charts at the bottom of the box. In the window that appears, click on Bar Chart(s) under Chart Type. Then, under Axis Label Display, decide whether you want the bars to be Percentages or Frequencies (the actual number of cases in each category). Click on Continue to get back to the first dialog box. If you do NOT want a frequency table to be produced in your output window in addition to the chart, click on Display Frequency Tables to turn it off. Click on OK to run the analysis. The chart will appear in a new Chart Carousel Window.

4. Customizing charts and placing them into a word processing document Edit

We often place edited charts from the SPSS OUTPUT NAVIGATOR into a word processing document on completion of the desired changes. This enables the researcher to integrate charts (or tables) into a word processing document to build a report or empirical article.

To do this, run the SPSS commands necessary to produce a chart (e.g., barchart or histogram). If you ran several charts, identify the one you wish to integrate into a word processing document by scrolling down in the SPSS OUTPUT NAVIGATOR window. Place your mouse arrow over the chart and double click. This will place a temporary "editable" copy of the specific chart into the SPSS CHART EDITOR for (you guessed it) editing purposes. Once the necessary changes have been made to your chart in the SPSS CHART EDITOR (e.g., you provided a descriptive title and subtitle, changed the appearance of the bars to include depth and data labels, adjusted the size and style of the default font, and chose a different pattern or color scheme for your bars), you must close (i.e, FILE/CLOSE from the menu) the SPSS CHART EDITOR to update your chart's changes and automatically move back into the SPSS OUTPUT NAVIGATOR WINDOW before you copy the chart into a word processing document. When you've closed the SPSS CHART EDITOR window and updated your changes to the original chart in the SPSS OUTPUT NAVIGATOR window, you're then ready to copy the chart to a word processing document such as WordPerfect for Windows.

To copy the chart, click once on it in the SPSS OUTPUT NAVIGATOR window (you'll see a single line appear around the chart with small squares at each corner) and then right mouse click once and click COPY. This will temporarily place the chart in Windows (95 or 3.X) clipboard. Open up your word processor to a new or existing document and then PASTE SPECIAL (i.e., EDIT/PASTE SPECIAL) the chart into the appropriate location. You're now ready to describe what you found in your chart (or table)! 5. Printing a chart or table To print the chart or table in the SPSS OUTPUT NAVIGATOR, click once on the chart or table to highlight the one you wish to print, go to the menu bar and select FILE/PRINT and then click OK to print.

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