Descriptives is best to obtain quick summaries of numeric variables, or to compare several numeric variables side-by-side.
The Descriptives procedure can produce a select number of descriptive statistics on any variable. (Note, however, that the descriptive statistics generated are only suitable for numeric scale variables). The Descriptives procedure is best used when you want to compare the descriptive statistics of several numeric variables side-by-side.
To run the Descriptives procedure, select Analyze > Descriptive Statistics > Descriptives.
The Descriptives window lists all of the variables in your dataset in the left column. To select variables for analysis, click on the variable name to highlight it, then click on the arrow button to move the variable to the column on the right. Alternatively, you can double-click on the name of a variable to move it to the column on the right.
Selecting the Save standardized values as variables check box will create new variables containing the standardized values of each of the input variables. (Recall that the standardized value of a variable is computed by subtracting the mean of the variable, then dividing the difference by the standard deviation.)
By default, the Descriptives procedure computes the mean, standard deviation, minimum, and maximum of the variable. Clicking Options will allow you to disable any of the aforementioned statistics, or enable sum, variance, range, standard error of the mean (S.E. mean), kurtosis, and skewness. You can also choose how you want the output to be organized:
The sample dataset has test scores (out of 100) on four placement tests: English, Reading, Math, and Writing. We want to compare the summary statistics of these four tests so we can determine which tests the students tended to do the best and the worst on.
Click Analyze > Descriptive Statistics > Descriptives, then double click on the variables English, Reading, Math, and Writing in the left column. Click OK when finished.
DESCRIPTIVES VARIABLES=English Reading Math Writing /STATISTICS=MEAN STDDEV MIN MAX.
Here we see a side-by-side comparison of the descriptive statistics for the four numeric variables. This allows us to quickly make the following observations about the data: