Statistics How To

SPSS Statistics: SPSS Tutorial for Beginners

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spss tutorial for beginners SPSS  Statistics
IBM SPSS Statistics is a software package that is geared towards the social sciences like federal and local governments and health care organizations. The software works similarly to Microsoft Excel, with a spreadsheet style entry field and easy-to-use toolbar. However, data entry in SPSS statistics is somewhat different, with columns used for variables.

SPSS Tutorial for Beginners

This collection of SPSS How to articles gives you the basic tools to get you started with SPSS in a step-by-step format. You’ll find an introduction to the topic, videos and pictures to illustrate the points, and if you get stuck you can always leave a comment. I’ll try my best to help!

SPSS Statistics Software: Advantages and Disadvantages for Statistics

The program, originally called Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, was released in 1968 and quickly became one of the most widely used statistics programs in the social sciences, including in healthcare, government, market research and surveying.

SPSS Pie charts in the legacy dialogs section.

SPSS Pie charts are found in the legacy dialogs section of the toolbar.

Major differences Between Microsoft Excel and SPSS

Both Excel and SPSS have a similar feel, with pull-down menus, a host of built-in statistical functions and a spreadsheet format for easy data entry. However, SPSS is specifically built for statistics and surpasses Excel in many ways, including:

  • Faster and easier basic function access like descriptive statistics (i.e. mean, standard deviation or median). While Excel does have built-in functions, SPSS has these basic statistics elements in pull down menus.
  • Wider variety of graphs and charts in SPSS. Excel does have a wide range of basic charts, but if you want to create complex graphs like contingency tables, this is much easier in SPSS with the pull-down menus.
  • Easier to find statistical tests. While Excel does have a wide range of statistical tests built-in, the pull-down menus in SPSS make for faster access.

There are several disadvantages to using SPSS — especially for the casual learner–including the hefty price tag (at time of writing, a full version of IBM Statistics SPSS Standard costs $5270!). Therefore, unless you are attached to a university or other organization that has already purchased a multi-user license, you’re unlikely to find the program on a personal computer.

Check out our Youtube channel for SPSS statistics videos.


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If you prefer an online interactive environment to learn R and statistics, this free R Tutorial by Datacamp is a great way to get started. If you're are somewhat comfortable with R and are interested in going deeper into Statistics, try this Statistics with R track.

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SPSS Statistics: SPSS Tutorial for Beginners was last modified: June 5th, 2018 by Stephanie