How to Use SPSS to Create a Graph of Demographic Characteristics
By Linda Foley
Updated February 10, 2017
Social scientists such as psychologists, political scientists and sociologists use Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) to analyze data they collect. These researchers collect information from different sources and are interested in how the sources vary in their attitudes, decisions or perceptions. They frequently want to know how the participants in their research vary in their demographic characteristics, such as their sex, race, age and education. SPSS can create charts and graphs to display how these demographic characteristics vary for different participants.
Select “Data sheet” on the bottom of the SPSS screen.
Double click on "var0001," which displays a dialog box. Type your first demographic characteristic variable in the box (for example, "Sex") and click on "OK."
Double click on “var0002” and insert your second demographic characteristic variable in the box (for example, "Race") and click on “OK." Continue adding demographic characteristic variables that you want in your graph.
Select “Variable View” on the bottom of the SPSS screen. Your variables are in the first row. Select your first variable “Sex” in the first column, under the heading “Name.” Click “Tab” on your keyboard, which takes you to “Type.” In the dialog box select “Numeric” and put in width of “3” and decimals “0.” Click on “Continue.”
Click “Tab” on your keyboard, which takes you to “Label.” Type “Sex of Participant,” or some other further definition of the variable. This label will appear in the charts. Tab to “Value” and click on the box. A dialog box will appear. Type “1” in “Value.” Type the category in “Value Label,” for example, “Male.” Click on “Add.” Type “2” in “Value.” Type the next category in “Value Label,” for example, “Female.” Click on “Add.” Click "OK."
Repeat for each demographic characteristic. Click on “File,” then “Save As” and type in the name of your data file. Click on "SPSS(*.sav)."
Click on “Statistics” at the top of the SPSS screen. Click on “Summarize” in the drop-down dialog box.
Click on “Frequencies,” which provides a dialog box. Click on the variable you wish to put in your graph or chart from the list of your variables on the left. Then click on the arrow button pointing right to send that variable into the “Variable(s)” box. Continue to select variables to put into the “Variable(s)” box until you have all the variables you want in your graph.
Click on “Chart” at the bottom of the dialog box. Click on the type of graph you want (for example, “Bar chart,” “Pie chart” or “Histogram.”) Click on “Continue” and then “OK.”
Review the output that will display your graph of demographic characteristics in the form you selected.
Items you will need
Statistical Package for the Social Sciences
Save your data frequently. You can select different charts to determine which is most appropriate for your data.
Linda Foley has been writing about psychology and the justice system since 1974. Her articles have been published in the "Journal of Forensic Psychology," "Trial Lawyer" and the "Journal of Social Behavior and Personality." Foley holds a Doctor of Philosophy in social psychology from the University of Florida.