Chapter 2

Close Encounter:
The Data Editor, Syntax Editor & Output Viewer Windows

2.1 Introduction to SPSS

The capability of SPSS is truly astounding. The package enables you to obtain statistics ranging from simple descriptive numbers to complex analyses of multivariate matrices. You can plot the data in histograms, scatterplots, and other ways. You can combine files, split files, and sort files. You can modify existing variables and create new ones. In short, you can do just about anything you'd ever want with a set of data using this software package.

A number of specific SPSS procedures are presented in the chapters that follow. Most of these procedures are relevant to the kinds of statistical analyses covered in an introductory level statistics or research methods course typically found in the social and health sciences, natural sciences, or business.

Yet, we will touch on just a fraction of the many things that SPSS can do. Our aim is to help you become familiar with SPSS, and we hope that this introduction will both reinforce your understanding of statistics and lead you to see what a powerful tool SPSS is, how it can actually help you better understand your data, how it can enable you to test hypotheses that were once too difficult to consider, and how it can save you incredible amounts of time as well as reduce the likelihood of making errors in data analyses.

In this chapter we discuss the ways to open SPSS and we introduce the three main windows of SPSS. We show how to create a data file and generate an output file. We also discuss how to name and save the different types of files created in the three main SPSS windows.