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In SPSS, how do I generate a new variable?

To create a new variable in SPSS, use the compute command. You can use this command in many ways:

  • To create a variable called total equal to the sum of variables v1, v2, v3, and v4, the syntax is: compute total = v1+v2+v3+v4.
  • You can use most basic mathematical expressions to combine variables into new variables with compute statements. Alternatively, you can also use SPSS functions with compute commands. For example, the following command also adds the values of v1, v2, v3, and v4 to create a variable called total: compute total = sum(v1 to v4).

    Note: The difference between the two procedures above is that in the first procedure, the case on total would be missing if any one of the four variables had missing values on a case; in the second procedure, the total would be computed while ignoring missing values on the four variables.

  • You can use the compute command to create a copy of an existing variable that can be modified or recoded, while preserving the original values of the variable. For example, if you wish to create a copy of the variable v1 called v1a, type: compute v1a = v1.
  • You can also use the compute command to create a constant variable. For example, if you wish to create a constant variable called v5 and the value for the constant is 1, type: compute v5 = 1.

For more on the compute command, refer to the SPSS Command Syntax Reference (PDF).

If you have questions about using statistical and mathematical software at Indiana University, email UITS Research Analytics (formerly known as the Stat/Math Center). Research Analytics is located on the IU Bloomington campus at Woodburn Hall 200, and is open for consultation by appointment Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. For more, visit Research Analytics on the web, or call 812-855-4724 (IUB) or 317-278-4740 (IUPUI).

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Last modified on November 15, 2013.

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