GWOM Exercise

Exercise Using SPSS to Explore Relationships Among Variables

Edward E. Nelson and Elizabeth N. Nelson
California State University, Fresno


© The Authors, 1998; Last Modified 18 August 1998

Note to the instructor: The data set used in this exercise is gwomsp.por which is a subset of the 1996 General Social Survey. (Some of the variables in the GSS have been recoded to make them easier to use.) This exercise uses CROSSTABS and MEANS to explore the relationships among variables. In CROSSTABS, students are asked to use percentages, chi square, and an appropriate measure of association. In MEANS, students are asked to compare means to establish a relationship. A good reference on using SPSS is SPSS for Windows Version 6: A Basic Tutorial, by Nan Chico, John Korey, Edward Nelson, Elizabeth Nelson, Richard Shaffer, and Jim Ross. To order this book, call McGraw-Hill at 1-800-338-3987. The ISBN is 0-07-913673-7 . There is also a revision of this book for version 7.5, SPSS for Windows Version 7.5: A Basic Tutorial. The ISBN is 0-07-366023-X. You have permission to use this exercise and to revise it to fit your needs. Please send a copy of any revision to the authors.

Ed Nelson and Elizabeth Nelson
Department of Sociology
California State University, Fresno
Fresno, CA 93740

Phone:209-278-2275 (Ed) and 209-278-2234 (Elizabeth)

Email: and/or

 Please contact the authors for additional information.

  1. In this exercise we are going to explore gender differences. Look through the codebook and select two variables you would expect that men and women would answer differently and two variables where you would not expect to find a difference. (There are many variables you can select including abortion, fear of crime, and variables concerning the status and roles of women.) For each:
    1. Write a hypothesis stating how you expect gender to be related to this variable.
    2. Write a paragraph or two providing a rationale for your hypotheses. (In other words, write an argument in which your hypothesis is the conclusion.)
    3. Use SPSS to run the crosstabulations. Be sure to remember which is the independent and dependent variable and to get the correct percentages. Use chi square and an appropriate measure of association.
    4. Write a paragraph interpreting the tables that SPSS gave you and indicate whether the data support your hypotheses. Use chi square and the measure of association to help you interpret the table.
  2. In this exercise we are going to explore the variable describing age at birth of first child (AGEKDBRN).
    1. Use the procedure FREQUENCIES in SPSS to get the frequency distribution for AGEKDBRN. Ask for the mode, median, mean, and histogram. Write a paragraph describing the distribution including its central tendency. Does the distribution appear to be normal or is it skewed?
    2. Use the procedure COMPARE MEANS to see if there is any difference between men and women in mean age at birth of first child. Write a sentence or two describing your findings.
    3. Use this same procedure to see if there is a relationship between mean age at birth of first child and education. Use the variable DEGREE which is the highest educational degree achieved. Write a sentence or two describing your findings.