IS 296A-4 Seminar on Research Methods:

Introduction to Quantitative Methods

Basic Information


Lecture Slides


SPSS Tutorial

SPSS General Tutorial

This is an OPTIONAL tutorial, not an assignment.

The purpose of this exercise is to show you some of the capabilities of SPSS and to familiarize you with the user interface. I highly encourage you to just play around with the program, as you are likely to discover a lot of the best features this way. Still, this short exercise will get you started.

Step 1: Opening an existing SPSS datafile

  1. Start SPSS by finding the program in the start menu.
  2. Usually, a window pops up that allows you to quickly open the most currently used data files. Lets skip this, so just close this popup window down if it comes up.
  3. In the regular SPSS program window, go to File > Open > Data
    1. Look in the SPSS folder for a file called 'GSS93 subset.sav'.
    2. If this file is not located on your computer, you can also get it here.
    3. Open this file.

Step 2: Explore the SPSS interface

  1. Note that in the lower left corner of the SPSS program windows, there are two tabs: Data View and Variable View. Click on each and see how you can potentially modify information in the existing dataset or about the variables in the dataset.
  2. When you click on the Variable View tab in the lower left corner, notice all of the information that appears in the various columns such as 'Label' 'Values' and 'Missing.' Note that when you click on one of the cells in the 'Values' column, you can edit the value labels for any variable. Also note that you can click on the cell in the Missing column for any variable to set up to 3 discrete missing codes (or a range).
  3. Explore the many different menus at the top of the program windows. Pay particular attention to the 'Data,' 'Analyze,' 'Transform' and 'Graphs' tabs. Feel free to play around with some of the options and finding out what they do.

Step 3: Create some simple descriptive statistics

  1. Go to Analyze > Descriptive Statistics > Descriptives
  2. Select 3 or 4 variables on the left hand menu and bring them to the right-side menu with the 'arrow' in the middle of the two menus.
  3. Click the 'options' button
  4. Click some of the options, such as Kurtosis, Skewness, Variance, etc.
  5. Click 'Continue' to leave the options area and then click OK to run the descriptives.
  6. When the results table comes up, right-click on the table and notice the menu of options that comes up.
  7. Click on 'Results Coach' from this popup menu.
  8. Click through the results coach information - this can be very handy information especially for complicated results tables! Don't forget about using this in the future.

Step 4: Run a simple scatterplot.

  1. Go to Graphs > Scatter/Dot
  2. Click on 'Simple Scatter' and then 'Define'
  3. In the Y Axis box, put in the variable 'Highest Year of School Completed [Educ]'
  4. In the X Axis box, put in the variable 'Respondent's Income [rincome91]'
  5. Click OK
  6. Note the general trend that appears in the scatterplot results. So far, we cannot tell if this is actually a significant linear relationship. We will have to actually run a correlation to test this.

Step 5: Run a correlation to check for a significant relationship.

  1. Go to Analyze > Correlate > Bivariate.
  2. Add the same two variables from the scatterplot above: Highest Year of School Completed [Educ] and Respondent's Income [rincome91]
  3. Click OK.
  4. Note the significance test and the direction of the Pearson correlation. Do you feel confident saying whether education and income are significantly correlated in this data?

Step 6: General Tutorials

  1. I highly recommend playing with the 'tutorials' under the Help menu if you have never used SPSS before. You don't have to spend a lot of time with it, but it is actually a pretty good way to familiarize yourself with the basics of SPSS.
  2. Also, note the 'Help' buttons that show up on most dialogue boxes. These help buttons will actually open relevant information based on what you are doing - so do use them when you get confused about something!