SPSS Exercises

The SPSS exercises at the end of each chapter focus on support for the death penalty. A portion of the 2016 GSS survey data as well as the complete GSS2016 data set are available on the study site. You will need to use one of these files to carry out these exercises. If you are able to use the complete version of SPSS (perhaps in your university’s computer lab), download the GSS2016 or GSS2016x file. If you are using the student version of SPSS, download the GSS2016x_reduced file. You will begin your empirical investigation by thinking a bit about the topic and the data you have available for study.

1. What personal motivation might you have for studying support for the death penalty? What might motivate other people to conduct research on this topic? What policy and academic motives might be important?

2. After you download one of the GSS2016 files and save it in a directory, open the GSS2016, GSS2016x, or GSS2016x_reduced file. In the SPSS menu, click on File, then on Open and Data, and then on the name of the data file in the directory where it is saved. How many respondents are there in this subset of the complete GSS file? (Scroll down to the bottom of the data set in Data View.) How many variables were measured? (Scroll down to the bottom of the Variable View in SPSS.)

3. What would you estimate as the level of support for capital punishment in the United States in 2016? Now for your first real research experience in this text: Describe the distribution of support for capital punishment. Obtaining the relevant data is as simple as “a, b, c, d, e.”

a. Click on Graphs.
b. Click on Legacy Dialogs > Bar.
c. Select “Simple” and “Summaries for groups of cases” under Data in Chart Area > Define.
d. Place the CAPPUN variable in the box below “Category Axis:” and select “% of cases” under “Bar Represent.”
e. Click OK.

Now describe the distribution of support for capital punishment. What percentage of the population supported capital punishment in the United States in 2016?