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Following is a quick walkthrough of how to use the General Social Survey without the aid of any outside statistical packages.

Start here.

We’ll enter two variables to cross-tabulate, “wordsum” and “degree”. For contemporary relevance, we will only look at responses from the year 2000 to the year 2018. To do that, we’ll enter “year(2000-2018)”. Additionally, we’ll check the hyperlinked box “Summary statistics” a little further down the page. The page should look like this:

Now either hit enter on your keyboard or click the “Run the Table” button below the data entry field box. The new page that opens contains our results. On the left (the row), running from top to bottom, we have respondent wordsum scores. Along the top (the column), running from left to right, we have the highest educational degree respondents have earned.

Let’s focus on a wordsum score of 10. We see that .3% of respondents with less than a high school education scored a 10 on the wordsum test, while 13.4% of those with a graduate degree did. The green circle shows what percentage (3.6%) of the entire respondent pool scored a 10. The non-bolded numbers below each of the bolded numbers–the bolded numbers actually show percentages–reveal the weighted number of actual respondents who fall into each cell. So 5.1 respondents with less than a high school education scores a 10.

How do 5.1 people do something? They don’t, unless the results are adjusted to correct for under-/over-sampling as they are in this case! Just above the “Summary statistics” box we checked, notice two boxes under the “N of cases to display:” hyperlink. The GSS will default to weighted responses, but that can be toggled to unweighted responses if preferred.

A bit further down shows the average (mean) wordsum scores among respondents by degree attained.

Respondents with less than a high school education earned an average score of 4.36 on the wordsum test. Respondents with a graduate degree averaged a 7.52. The average for all respondents was 5.99.

One standard deviation in wordsum score for the entire respondent pool is 2.00. There is thus a 1.58 standard deviation difference (7.52 – 4.36 = 3.16; 3.16 / 2.00 = 1.58) between the average high school dropout and the average graduate degree holder in wordsum performance.

Return to the home page where we initially entered our variables. How do we find them in the first place?

The “Search:” field (green circle) functions as a sort of search engine for variables. If we are looking for questions on religion, for example, we can type “belief” into the field and either hit enter or click the view button.

Or at least we should be able to, but for some reason this function does not work in the 2018 iteration of the survey at the time of this writing. However, for all variables except for those added for the first time in 2018, we can go to the 2016 page and find variables this way (notice the link now ends in +gss16 instead of +gss18). This page looks nearly identical. Let’s type “belief” into the search field and then hit enter or press the “Go” button.

Returned to us are several variables that have something to do with “belief” in them. We can then go back to the homepage and enter those specific variables into the “Row:” and “Column:” fields to discover how they cross-tabulate with other variables like we did early with wordsum and degree.

Returning to the “Variable Selection:” section, we can type specific variables–they must be verbatim–into the “Selected:” box (red circle). Let’s type the variable “hell” into the selected box and push the “View” button.


This shows us the question presented to respondents (“Do you believe in … d. Hell”?) and the distribution of all responses through all years the question has been asked. Parenthetically, questions are often asked as part of modules, so each item in the module will have a letter in front of it. This module presumably asked respondents whether they believed in a host of different things of which Hell was one.

There is also a drill down database below the “Selected:” and “Search:” fields that can be used to look through the entire field of variables since the survey’s inception in 1972.

I think that’s enough to get started playing around with the survey if you’re so inclined. Enjoy!

 
• Category: Culture/Society, Science • Tags: GSS 
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  1. C’mon, you know you wanted to drop the HOMOSEX variable in there.

    • Replies: @Audacious Epigone
    A lot of the variables are quite... pithy!
  2. Thank you for this.

  3. Great work. You are teaching us to fish!

    • Agree: larry lurker, Talha
  4. anonymous[465] • Disclaimer says:

    Run more studies on sexual habits of 20-something university graduates in large cities.

  5. Q. Do you believe in Hell?

    A. Yes and no. I don’t believe in Hell as it is presented in simple Sunday sermons. But I believe in Hell as abandonment or banishment, as a personal space of suffering and torment, as a trial and torture endured by a people during times of historical crisis and so on.

    So, yes, I believe there is or are hellish experiences, but whether to call this “Hell” as though that were a specific place which has been identified and described by e.g. Christians or Buddhists, presents problems.

    Again, questions which I can’t answer with a simple yes or no so I leave them blank and hence, score poorly on the reading-comprehension portion of standardized tests. I honestly don’t know what the person who wrote this question means, what they are getting at or seeking.

    • Replies: @Audacious Epigone
    Respondents shouldn't overthink questions that are aimed at a general audience.
  6. Why are you trying to push your job onto us? Do you have something more important to do?

    OT

    The fat lady may have sung for us, but listening to all the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth on NPR over the Mueller report has given me a new zest for life.

  7. I appreciated a look at how the GSS generator works. Having done research using multiple regression analysis I found it interesting. Here’s the modeling tool I used worked in my research project, SPSS.

    https://www.surveygizmo.com/resources/blog/what-is-spss/

    https://explorable.com/multiple-regression-analysis

    https://statistics.laerd.com/spss-tutorials/multiple-regression-using-spss-statistics.php

    The GSS looks like a linear tool this to that and it does so by randomly selecting search terms throughout the net, it appears. The SPSS modeling does a nice job of explaining what each of the data results means to your analysis. Here are some references that explain how it works:

    https://ssc.wisc.edu/sscc/pubs/spss/classintro/spss_students1.html

    https://www.spss-tutorials.com/basics/

    There are a number of ways to locating and uncovering the nature of variabale relationships to each other. I found the SPSS was best because I had but two tangible concrete variables.

    https://stats.idre.ucla.edu/other/mult-pkg/whatstat/

    Conducting that research was one of the most beneficial projects of anything I ever did in college. And the work was probably the toughest project ever: Figuring an construct, designing the survey, researching and defining the background of the subject matter, locating the variables related to my two tangibles and trying to determine how the variables related to each other if at all and then to the static variable(s). But SPSS encompassed so many tools and helped note what the outcomes meant or possibly meant, it was worth every painful and perplexing moment. I will forever appreciate Dr. G.L. Forward (PLNU) in that process.

    One of the toughest hurdles, explaining to my survey handlers why I was doing the research and what was in it for them.

    Laugh.

  8. @Feryl
    C'mon, you know you wanted to drop the HOMOSEX variable in there.

    A lot of the variables are quite… pithy!

    • Replies: @Oblivionrecurs
    Sadly it seems a lot of responses allude to a very liberal future
  9. @ThreeCranes
    Q. Do you believe in Hell?

    A. Yes and no. I don't believe in Hell as it is presented in simple Sunday sermons. But I believe in Hell as abandonment or banishment, as a personal space of suffering and torment, as a trial and torture endured by a people during times of historical crisis and so on.

    So, yes, I believe there is or are hellish experiences, but whether to call this "Hell" as though that were a specific place which has been identified and described by e.g. Christians or Buddhists, presents problems.

    Again, questions which I can't answer with a simple yes or no so I leave them blank and hence, score poorly on the reading-comprehension portion of standardized tests. I honestly don't know what the person who wrote this question means, what they are getting at or seeking.

    Respondents shouldn’t overthink questions that are aimed at a general audience.

  10. @Audacious Epigone
    A lot of the variables are quite... pithy!

    Sadly it seems a lot of responses allude to a very liberal future

  11. Even if it “randomly selects” words, it does not randomly select the individuals that it has identified by educational level. It uses their personal information. It may study them in groups, but in some way, it had to identify them as individuals to get that personal information.

    Modern technology has created an ultra-convenient Peeping Tom Capitalism along with a Peeping Tom Government and a Peeping Tom Academia.

    Peeping Tom Academia sells its academic papers, making many of them inaccessible to the broader public, while likely extracting the personal information needed to conduct most of the research for free through ever-more prying electronic tools. While this is presented as a way to improve humanity by speedy information sorting, it is not clear that the benefit of putting individuals under algorithmic microscopes outweighs the social damage and the damage to Constitutionally guaranteed liberties.

    This is especially true when companies do the same thing with a money-making motive.

    Take the issue of marriage, a fading institution that survived for many centuries, providing the social glue for a moral society. Who wants to get married when—if you get a messy divorce—the government documentation is splayed out on the internet for every nosey Nellie with no good intentions, every prying algorithm selling soap and every tenure-chasing academic to use with or without your permission, not that these “permissions” are anything but an extra layer of protection against lawsuits for corporations (that are people and legally protected by the SCOTUS more than most individual humans).

    In the old days (just a few years ago), a few, nutty, shameless, peeping-Tom individuals would go to the courthouse to get their hands on such information just for kicks & giggles. Businesses, like insurance companies, had grittier, bottom-line reasons for getting that information from government.

    Insurance companies have always bought big packages of people’s personal information to use as leads for old-school targeted-marketing purposes, with outside marketing companies likewise selling government-derived information for hundreds of dollars to insurance peddlers. This was done behind the scenes in corporations, not “randomly” by any, everyday peeping Tom.

    Credit-rating agencies have every little personal detail about actual borrowers—and potential borrowers—right down to their last bank account transaction. And, no, all or most of the employees who have access to your personal information in the many peeping-Tom industries are not even close to careful and professional————-not….even….close. They are a diverse staff of nearly 100% moms in most cases—moms who can afford to work for very low wages due to their spousal income, rent-covering child support or monthly welfare and up to $6,431 in yearly refundable child tax credit cash.

    There have been mass-scale corporate data breeches in these places, spewing the personal information of millions of consumers into every nook and cranny of the internet, making Hillary’s loosey-goosey cybersecurity look like the security apparatus at Fort Knox.

    Few ordinary peeping Toms would go to the trouble to forage for personal information before the age of handheld computers, but now, they don’t have to exert any effort to invade privacy because of 1) “advances” in technology that aid peeping-Tom activity and 2) lax cybersecurity. Neither do the identity thieves, job scammers gathering leads via job fake postings and other assorted scammers.

    What about the danger of being used as a free gineau pig for corporations, profiting from providing any peeping-Tom, Dick or Harry with information about where you live, including detailed, aerial views of your house, not to mention sites providing information about all household members, their income levels, their ages, their educational levels, what they paid for their house, etc. This detailed information is not necessary to sustain the fabulous, useful, non-damaging GPS and mapping features created by programmers.

    It is just one of the many potentially damaging ways that Peeping Tom Capitalists make money.

    What about the demise of academic privacy—all of you high-IQ academics—a group with just as little concern about the end of that Fourth Amendment-based liberty as the First Amendment-derived liberty of academic freedom on campuses.

    All that current generations of educated “professionals” really care about is career advancement for dual-high-earner parents in the top 20%………..and $$$$$ to buy Barbie-feminist princess palaces in the right zip codes. I remember a time when most academics had a comfortable lifestyle, not a money-driven lifestyle. A different value system still prevailed at that time in academia.

    We can’t count on elected officials to do anything about it. The ones who aren’t bought off by the corporate-owned Cheap Labor Lobbyists who write all of the legislation are scared off by the J. Edgar Hoover / Stalin-like system of prying algorithms, which are much more effective at silencing people in high and low places than the old-school Soviet method of getting neighbors to inform on neighbors.

    No wonder there is such an obsession with Russia among the educated classes.

    We also cannot count on the SCOTUS, even though the system of lifetime appointments, like tenure, is supposed to insulate them from concerns about sacrificing their income when subjecting the powers that be to Constitutional standards. The Corporations Are People Club does not rely on corporate lobbyists to provide access to high-paying, post-office-holding jobs and campaign contributions. But they have eagerly defined First / Fourth Amendment violations down or sculpted them to favor corporations and big government. They must be worried about secrets held over them by the algorithmic J. Edgar Hoover.

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