Introduction to SPSS

SPSS is a data management and analysis software package, maintained by IBM. On the surface it looks a lot like a spreadsheet and performs many of the same functions.

SPSS Graphics

Using the Chartbuilder


SPSS provides a number of dialogues for creating graphics. The newest is the Chart Builder, a dialogue which consolidates many of the functions available through the Legacy Dialogues. To access the Chart Builder select "Graphs"->"Chart Builder" from the menu.

This will open up the Chartbuilder dialogue.

To demonstrate the Chart Builder's abilities, we'll create a boxplot for the "median_income" variable.

Select "Boxplot" in the "Choose from" menu. You'll see three icons appear in the box to the right of the menu. The Chartbuilder works using a drag and drop interface. Select the icon showing a single plot and drag it to the Chart Previews box above. Then select "median_income" from the "Variables" box and drag it to the dotted-line border area labeled "Y-Axis" in the Chart Preview box.

Hit "OK" and the boxplot appears in the Output Viewer.

Legacy Dialogues


In addition to the Chart Builder, SPSS includes what it terms "Legacy Dialogues" that each create a certain chart type. The example here uses a scatterplot, but SPSS includes dialogues for many chart types, from basic bar and line graphs to more statistics-oriented visualizations like histograms, scatterplots, and boxplots.

To obtain a scatterplot, select "Graphs"->"Legacy Dialogues"->"Scatter/Dot" to open the dialogue below:

Select "bachelors_or_higher" as the X axis and "median_income" as the Y then click "OK." The scatterplot will appear in the Output Viewer.

To add a regression line that reflects the regression performed in the "General Statistics and Hypothesis Testing" section right-click on the chart in the output viewer and select "Edit Content." A new window  will be opened, called the Chart Editor, that allows further interactions with the graphic. Right click the image in this window and select "Add Fit Line at Total."

The "Properties" dialogue will open and a number of fit lines will be selectable.

Selecting "Linear" and clicking "Apply" draws the least square regression line on the plot, changing the graph in both the Editor and the Output Viewer. The graph will also be copyable as an image to other applications so that it can be displayed in research papers, blog posts, Web Sites, or presentation slides.

Generating Line Graphs in SPSS

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