Exercise 4

We assume that you have downloaded the dataset and that you have SPSS available.

Follow the procedure below to calculate standardised scores for two questions: ‘FMLSTRS - how much of the time spent with immediate family is stressful?’ and ‘SCLMEET - how often socially meet with friends, relatives or colleagues?’:

Now you are going to compare the countries’ mean scores on these two variables. For which countries is the ‘friends’ score relatively higher than the ‘family’ one, and for which is the opposite true?

Solution - SPSS

The weighted mean and standard deviation for the two original variables are; for FMLSTRS, mean = 4.17 and s.d. = 1.58; for SCLMEET, mean=5.03 and s.d.=1.54. These numbers are used to compute the standardised variables.

Generally family life scores higher in more Eastern countries, and friends score higher in more Western countries. The exceptions to this are Ireland and Denmark. Countries where family life is better than general social life - Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Ukraine. Countries where family life is worse - Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Finland, France, UK, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden.

You could also copy this syntax and paste it into a syntax window in SPSS:

WEIGHT
BY COMWEIGHT.
DESCRIPTIVES VARIABLES=FMLSTRS SCLMEET
/STATISTICS=MEAN STDDEV.
COMPUTE zFMLSTRS=(FMLSTRS-4.1717)/1.57589.
EXECUTE.
COMPUTE zSCLMEET=(SCLMEET-5.0263)/1.53578.
EXECUTE.
WEIGHT BY DWEIGHT.
MEANS TABLES=zFMLSTRS zSCLMEET BY CNTRY
/CELLS MEAN COUNT STDDEV SEMEAN.

What problem might there be from drawing strong conclusions from the results of exercise 4? Well, one problem is that they are based simply on two questions. For example, by choosing the question on family life being stressful, we are ignoring the question on family life being enjoyable. Surely we should take account of both questions to make judgements about family life overall for a given country. That’s why we aggregate.

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