How to Combine Variables in SPSS

By Linda Foley

Social science researchers use the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, or SPSS, to analyze data in areas such as psychology, sociology, and political science. SPSS is an easy-to-use comprehensive data analysis program that can be used on quantitative data. Researchers often want to combine two or more variables in order to create a new variable. Variables can be combined in SPSS by adding or multiplying them together.

Pull Up Data

Step 1

Go to "File" in the tool bar at the top of the page in SPSS. When the drop-down table appears, click on "Open."

Step 2

Double-click the name of the file you wish to open, and then click “Open.” Your file will appear.

Step 3

Click the “Data View” tab at the bottom of the page. Your data will be displayed.

Add Variables Together

Step 1

Click the "Transform" menu at the top of the window and select "Compute" from the drop-down menu to open the Compute Variable dialog box. Type the name of your new variable in the space under “Target Variable.” This is the name of the variable you are creating by adding two or more other variables together.

Step 2

Find the first variable in the list of all your variables on the left of the screen under “Type&Label.” This is the first variable you wish to add. Click on it. Click on the arrow next to the list of variables. Your variable will move to the box “Numeric Expression.”

Step 3

Click on the plus sign (+), and it will move to the “Numeric Expression” box after your first variable.

Step 4

Find the next variable in the list of all your variables under “Type& Label” that you wish to add and click on it. Click on the arrow next to the list of variables. Your variable will move to the box “Numeric Expression.”

Step 5

Continue adding variables with a "plus" sign between them until you have entered all the variables you wish to add together. Click "OK." The new variable, “Total,” will appear at the far right of your variables.

Multiply Variables

Step 1

Go to "Transform" in the tool bar at the top of the SPSS page. Click on "Compute" from the drop-down menu. Type the name of your new variable in the space under "Target Variable." This is the name of the variable you are creating by multiplying two variables together.

Step 2

Find the name of the first variable that you wish to multiply in the list of all your variables under “Type&Label," and click on it. Click on the arrow next to the list of variables. Your variable will move to the box “Numeric Expression.” Click on the "multiplication" sign (x), and it will move to the “Numeric Expression” box following the variable.

Step 3

Find the name of the next variable in the list of all your variables that you wish to multiply by your first variable, and then click on it. Click on the arrow next to the list of variables. Your variable will move to the box “Numeric Expression.” Click "OK." The new variable will appear at the far right of your variables.

Tips & Warnings

  • Save your file often.