What is SPSS software and what is it for?

IBM SPSS Statistics is a software package for the statistical analysis of records generated through surveys or empirical research projects .

As part of IBM’s sales strategy, SPSS Statistics is the preferred analysis tool along with  SPSS Data Collection  for designing and conducting surveys and  SPSS Modeler for data mining and forecasting tools.

What is SPSS?

SPSS stands for  Statistical Package for Social Sciences   and was first released in 1968. Since IBM acquired SPSS in 2009, it has been officially known as IBM SPSS Statistics, but most users still refer to it as “SPSS.” .

The SPSS program is statistical software used in social and market research . It is a software package that allows researchers to process and analyze large amounts of data, formulate hypotheses, and make predictions based on the information provided. It is compatible with most file formats, making it a very versatile tool for any type of investigation.

Origin and Development of IBM SPSS Statistics software

In the case of the SPSS program, it currently belongs to IBM SPSS Statistics, which is a set of computer programs used for statistical analysis. However, this program was not created by IBM . In reality, it was Normal H. Nie, C. Hadai Hull, and Dale H. Bent , social scientists, who developed the software with the goal of converting statistical data into useful information for decision making.

The creators of SPSS were graduate students when they created the program in 1968. Their goal was for this software to quickly and efficiently analyze large amounts of data obtained from different research methods. Initially, the program was used for work at Stanford University. However, other American universities began to request it and its use spread beyond the university.

Over time, the program was considered a valuable tool and intellectual property of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. Nie invited Hull to participate as the director of the center to improve and continue the development of the software. During the years 1969 and 1975, these two social scientists improved the software. Starting in 1975, the program became part of the company SPSS Inc.

Today, SPSS is considered the world’s leading statistical software for business , government, research organizations, and academia, according to the official IBM SPSS Statistics website. It is easy to use for business users, analysts, and statistical programmers.

What is SPSS for?

SPSS is software for editing and analyzing all kinds of data . This data can basically come from any source: scientific research, a customer database, Google Analytics, or even a website’s server log files. This statistical software can open all file formats that are commonly used for structured data like

  • Spreadsheets from MS Excel or with Open Office
  • Plain text files (.txt or .csv)
  • Relational databases (SQL)

Remember that you can enjoy a 30-day trial thanks to the Trial version that is legally offered by the software manufacturer IBM . Download the latest versions:

SPSS Statistics will help you perform the following tasks with ease:

Creation of spreadsheets and database management

One of the main features of the SPSS program is that it allows you to create spreadsheets that are very similar to those of Excel, which is very useful for organizing and processing large amounts of data. It also allows managing databases to process them dynamically, which means that users can organize and view them according to their needs.

Variable analysis

The SPSS program offers a wide variety of tools for analyzing variables. This includes cross tabulation, statistical frequencies, double variables such as the linear nova test and mont of nuclei. It also allows you to generate attractive reports on the research that has just been carried out, bringing together texts, tables, graphs and statistical results.

Advanced statistics

The SPSS program offers a wide variety of advanced statistical functions, including crosstabulation, statistical frequencies, double variables, and many other basic statistical functions. It also offers the ability to perform text analysis and design visualizations.

Display layout

The SPSS program allows for the easy creation of a wide variety of visual effects, such as graphs, radial boxes, and density plots. This is very helpful in presenting research results in a clear and concise manner.

SPSS Software Features

Now let’s take a quick look at its main features.

Data View

After opening the data, the software shows us in a spreadsheet as shown in the following screenshot.

data view statistical package

This sheet, called the data view, always shows our data values . For example, our first record appears to contain a male respondent from 1979, etc. A more detailed explanation of the exact meaning of our variables and data values ​​is found on a second sheet shown below.

Variable view

A data file from this IBM program always has a second sheet called a variable view. Displays the metadata associated with the data. Metadata is information about the meaning of variables and data values. This is generally known as the “codebook” but in SPSS it is called a dictionary.

variable view

For non-SPSS users, the appearance of the Data Editor window is probably more like an Excel workbook containing two different but closely related sheets.Analysis of the data in the statistical package SPSS

This statistical program can open all kinds of data and display it, along with its metadata, on two sheets in its Data Editor window. So how do you analyze your data in SPSS? Well, one option is to use the elaborate menu options.

For example, if our data contains a variable that contains the income of respondents during 2010, we can calculate the average income by browsing as shown below.

Doing so opens a dialog where we select one or more variables and one or more statistics that we would like to inspect.

Exit window

After clicking Ok , a new window opens: the SPSS output viewer window. It has a nice table with all the statistics for all the variables we chose. The screenshot below shows like this:

exit window

As we can see, the Output Viewer Window has a different design and structure than the Data Editor window that we saw previously. Creating results in SPSS does not change our data in any way; Unlike Excel, SPSS uses different windows for data and research results based on that data.

For non-SPSS users, the appearance of the SPSS Output Viewer window is probably more like a PowerPoint slide containing elements such as blocks of text, tables, and graphs.

SPSS Reporting

SPSS output elements, typically tables and graphs, are easily copied and pasted into other programs. For example, many users use a word processor such as MS Word, OpenOffice, or GoogleDocs to generate reports. Tables are typically copied in rich text format, which means they will retain their style, such as fonts and borders. The screenshot below illustrates the result.

spss reporting

Syntax editor window

The output table we show was created by running from the SPSS menu. SPSS now has a second option for executing this command (or any other): we can open a third window, known as the syntax editor window. Here we can write and execute the SPSS code known as SPSS Syntax . For example, running Descriptivos renta_2010. has exactly the same result as running this command from the SPSS menu as we did before.

syntax editor

In addition to typing commands in the Syntax Editor window, most of them can also be pasted by clicking the SPSS menu options. In this way, SPSS users who are not familiar with the syntax can still use it. But why use the syntax if SPSS has such a great menu?

The basic point is that the syntax can be saved , corrected, executed, and shared between projects or users. Its syntax makes your SPSS work replicable . If someone raises questions about your results, you can show exactly what you did and, if necessary, correct it and run it again in seconds.

For users new to SPSS, the appearance of the SPSS Syntax Editor window is probably closer to Notepad: a single window that basically contains plain text.Functionalities of the SPSS programNow that we have a basic idea of ​​how SPSS works, let’s see what its functionalities are, that is, what it can help us with. Following a typical project workflow, SPSS is ideal for:open data filesSPSS has its own data file format. Other file formats it easily deals with include MS Excel, plain text files, SQL, Stata, and SAS.

data file

Data Editing

In real world research, data usually needs some editing before it can be properly analyzed. Typical examples are creating means or sums as new variables, restructuring data, or detecting and removing unlikely observations. SPSS performs these tasks, and more complex ones, with amazing efficiency.

To get things done quickly, SPSS contains many number functions, string functions, date functions, and other handy routines.Tables and Graphs

All basic charts and graphs can be created quickly and easily in SPSS. Typical examples are demonstrated in the data analysis. A real weakness of SPSS is that its graphics tend to be ugly and often clumsy in design. A great way to overcome this problem is to develop and apply SPSS chart templates. However, doing so requires a fair amount of effort and experience.

tables and graphs

Inferential statistics

SPSS contains all the basic statistical tests and multivariate analyses. Some analyzes are available only after purchasing additional SPSS options in addition to the main program. An overview of all commands and the options they belong to is presented in Overview of All SPSS Commands.

Example of sample T-test output from SPSS One.
Example of sample T-test output from SPSS One.

Save data and results

Data incorporated into SPSS can be saved within a variety of file formats, including

  • MS Excel;
  • plain text (.txt or .csv);
  • Was
  • SAS.

The options for output are even more elaborate: graphics are often copied as images in .png format. For tables, the rich text format is often used because it preserves the layout, fonts, and borders of the tables.

In addition to copying and pasting individual output items, all output items can be exported at once to .pdf, HTML, MS Word, and many other file formats. An excellent strategy for writing a report is to create an SPSS output file with nicely styled tables and graphs. Then export the entire document to Word and insert explanatory text and titles between the output elements.

Advantages of SPSS over other tools

The ease of use is demonstrated by the fact that these functions can be selected via drop-down menus, which, unlike R and Stata, does not require any programming knowledge and allows you to concentrate on essential functionalities for the respective topic. Unlike working with R , you don’t need to create a separate codebook for third parties to work with your data set.

The specific areas of application are mainly:

  • Group analysis.
  • Discriminative in marketing.
  • Analysis of time series in medical research.
  • Regression and extrapolation in economics.

Which sectors use the statistical program SPSS today?

SPSS software is used today in the social sciences, medical sciences, and economics , and is promoted as the leading analysis software for research, education, business, and government .

In teaching , it proves to be the preferred choice mainly due to its easy-to-access interface. Unlike Excel (and its alternatives), assessments are not saved directly to the data record, thus minimizing the risk of unwanted tampering. In addition, SPSS online has a significantly greater range of functions, especially in the area of ​​statistics and inferential analysis.

Última actualización del artículo: September 15, 2023