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California State University, Dominguez Hills

University of Wisconsin, Parkside

Latest update: November 25, 1999

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A frequency is a distribution. i.e. When you click on the statistics, descriptive menu in SPSS, one of the options is frequencies. What SPSS then presents on screen is a table with all possible values the variable could take on and the frequency with which each of those values occurs.

For example, if you wanted to know the gender distribution for the sample you are analyzing, you would access the descriptive statistics from the main menu, select frequencies, when you have the variable gender selected.

SPSS would give you a table telling you how many males and how many females were in your sample, and would also provide this by percentages. Male and female are the value labels. Suppose that male was coded as 1, and female as 2. If you had not inclcuded value labels you would now get the frequencies as how many 1s and how many 2s occurred in your sample. Much easier to read when you use value labels.