SPSS for Beginners 1: Introduction

In this video, I’m gonna provide an introduction
to SPSS and PASW. So, first off, lemme just say that regarding the name, SPSS, PASW, two
different names for the same program. And I’m gonna refer to it as SPSS. Now I’m working
on version eighteen, which is, should be basically the same as slightly older and slightly newer
versions. And lemme just say this introduction is more for people who’ve had little to no
experience with SPSS. In future videos, things will get more advanced. So first off, what
is SPSS. Well, it’s a pretty popular program for statistical analysis. It’s used most often
in the behavioral sciences like psychology, but it can do lots of different things and
it works well for lots of different fields. And it’s great because you can do really complex
statistical analyses with just a few mouse clicks. The downside is that you’re pretty
far removed from the actual calculations. For that reason, these videos are gonna focus
mostly on just how to use SPSS. If you want more of a conceptual explanation of the different
statistical procedures, I recommend you check out my other series of videos, Excel for statistics.
Now a few caveats about SPSS: like I said, it’s pretty easy to run analyses, but your
data have to be set up in just the right way. And when you do run the analyses, you often
get a lot more than you need in the output window. So a trick to using this program is
knowing where to look for relevant information. So let’s start with the basics, there are
two view modes to SPSS, there’s data view and variable view. Data view, which we’re
in right now, is basically just a spreadsheet, and this is where you see all your data and
this is where you enter in all your data. Each row is dedicated to one participant or
subject or case, and each column is dedicated to a different variable, or type of measurement
you’re taking from each one of the participants. So just try popping in some numbers, I’ll
just do one, two, three. You’ll see that as you enter in a number in a column, that column
kind of comes to life. The variable automatically gets named, and it’s properties are set by
default. However, notice the name is V-A-R, zero-zero-zero-one. That stands for variable
one, if you type in more number, more properties, or more variables that get defined, and their
default names will be variable two, variable three, variable four, and this can get kind
of confusing especially if you have lots of variables and they’re all named almost exactly
the same thing. And also, the default properties for each variable may not be exactly what
you want, so we should learn how to change some of those things. So we change them in
variable view, and you can get to that by clicking on that little button in the lower
left. This lists all your variables in rows, and all the properties are in columns. And
I’m just gonna go ahead and delete variable two because we don’t need that right now.
The first property, and probably one of the more important ones, is name. I recommend
you change this immediately to something more descriptive.. You can call it anything you
want, but it just can’t have spaces in it, special characters, and it can’t start with
a number. So just double click on that, and just highlight it, you can change it to something.
You don’t need to worry about what it does and doesn’t allow because if you do something
it doesn’t like, like having a space, if you hit enter, it will say variable contains illegal
character. So just try something else. I’ll try random underscore name. Camel case works
equally well. So now we have a slightly more descriptive name, which will help us differentiate
our different variables. If you want something even more descriptive, you can go over here
to label, and here you can call it literally anything you want. There’s no restrictions
on what you call it. When you run analyses, this name will show up in the output window.
It’s not gonna show up in data view, in data view you just have whatever the name is. But
the label will show up in the apple window, which can help you further differentiate between
your different variables. So another important property is type. Type reflects what kind
of data you’re dealing with. The default is numeric, which indicates you’re dealing with
numbers. You can also change this to dates, if you’re recording dates, or dollar amounts.
Or a string variable, which is basically letters or words. And honestly, for the most part
if you’re analyzing data, I think numeric will be okay, for most of what you’re doing.
And probably only the other type of property you need to worry about right now is measure,
which is over on the right. Now this specifies what scale of measurement you’re using. A
stats book will usually tell you that the four scales of measurement are nominal, ordinal,
interval, and ratio. If you wanna know more about that I recommend you just find a stats
book and read about it. The only thing I’ll say about it right now is that SPSS, in SPSS,
nominal means nominal, ordinal means ordinal, but if you’re dealing with interval or ratio
scales, SPSS has the same setting for both of those, it calls them both scale. And for
the most part you’ll be okay leaving it set to scale. I’ll quickly mention some of the
other properties–width, over here on the left. This specifies how wide or narrow your
column will be, or sorry, how wide or narrow the entries can be if you’re dealing with
string variables. Which we’re not, so we can just forget about that. Decimals specifies
how many decimal places we’ll show. Column, that’s what specifies how wide or narrow your
columns will be in data view. I find it kind of redundant though because you can just modify
that in data view with your cursor, just moving it around like that, so not too necessary.
Align right here, it just left justifies, right justifies, or center justifies the numbers
in each cell of the spreadsheet in data view. Just the same way that Excel or Microsoft
Word would do. And for the most part I leave the default. There are some other properties
like values, and missing, which can be pretty useful, there’s also a role over here on the
right. We’ll get to those in later videos, for now don’t worry about them. So when you’re
dealing with SPSS, you’re pretty much just switching back and forth between variable
view and data view. You can also get to variable view from data view just by clicking on the
variable name, it’ll take you right back there, and you can get back to data view by clicking
on each row of the variable. So that’s pretty much the basics of SPSS in terms of at least
navigating and what everything is. In the next video we’ll start plugging in numbers
and running some calculations.

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