The SPSS EnvironmentThe Data View WindowUsing SPSS SyntaxData Creation in SPSSImporting Data into SPSSCreating and Deleting CasesCreating and Deleting VariablesVariable TypesDate-Time Variables in SPSSDefining VariablesRecoding VariablesAutomatic RecodeComputing VariablesSorting DataSplitting DataWeighting Cases
DescriptivesCompare MeansExploreFrequencies Part I (Continuous Data)Frequencies Part II (Categorical Data)Crosstabs
Pearson Correlation (bivariate)One Sample t TestIndependent Samples t Test
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SPSS Tutorials   Tags: spss, statistics, tutorials  

This LibGuide contains written and illustrated tutorials for the statistical software SPSS.
Last Updated: May 12, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Descriptives Print Page


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:

  • Variable list will print the variables in the same order that they are specified in the Descriptives window.
  • Alphabetically will arrange the variables in alphabetical order.
  • Ascending means will order the output so that the variables with the smallest means are first and the variables with the largest means last.
  • Descending means will order the output so that the variables with the largest means are first and the variables with the smallest means are last.


Example: Comparing average test scores side-by-side

Using the sample data file, let's obtain some descriptive statistics about the scores on the students' first two tests. Select Analyze > Descriptive Statistics > Descriptives, then double click on the variables Test_1 and Test_2 in the lefthand column. Click OK when finished.

Here we see a side-by-side comparison of the descriptive statistics for two numeric variables. We can quickly see that the minimum, maximum, and mean scores on Test 2 were lower than on Test 1, but the standard deviation was higher.


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