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Analysis Multiple response question (categories)

Multiple response refers to the situation when people are allowed to tick more than one answer option for a question.
Analyzing the answers given will be explained using the following steps:

The question

Vraag 5


Coding in SPSS

People are allowed to tick a maximum of two options.
Hence there are two variables needed to process the answers.
The coding below is designed to do just that.

Note: An alternative way of coding multiple response questions is to use dichotomies. How that is done is explained on the page: Defining Multiple Response Sets.


Key element of the information we want

The key information we want to have is how many times each of the aspects for fruit juice was chosen by the respondents.
We can view that info by making two frequency tables (for "important aspect 1" and for "important aspect 2") and manually adding the frequencies for each aspect.
For example price is mentioned 34 times in aspect 1 and 24 times in aspect 2. Hence in total the aspect price is mentioned 55 times.

But of course we don't have to do these basic things manually when we have a sophisticated statistical package like SPSS.


How to make a frequency tabel for multiple response items

Step 1 is to specify which variables have to be combined into a set; we use the DATA menu for this.

Choose Multiple Response Sets and complete the dialog window as shown on the right.
The Categories range from 1 through 5.

Note: The same dialog box can be reached through:

defining mrsets through analyze

Once the set has been created we can use it to make a frequency table for the set.
Choose Analyze > Tables > Custom Tables and drag the set variable $V05 to the Rows position.


We can specify the statistics and (sub)totals we want using the two buttons shown under Define:

We have chosen for the following options:


The result is:



A little editing of the output gives us:


Interpreting the output

  • 90 respondents have mentioned at least one aspect
  • 55 respondents indicated that price was an important aspect.
    That is 61% of all people who responded and it is 31% of all the answers given.
  • In total the 90 respondents have ticked 55+52+34+26+10=177 aspects. So almost everyone did indeed tick two options as requested.


An alternative approach in SPSS

There is an alternative approach possible by using from the menu: Analyze > Multiple Response.

Again we have to define the variable set first. This is done in a similar way as shown above.
But in this approach the definition of the set is not saved in the data file. So this description can only be used during an analysis run. Once you close SPSS this info will be lost.

Once the Variable Set has been defined the menu options Multiple Response > Frequencies... and Multiple Response > Crosstabs... become available. So now you can ask for a frequency table for the group you just made.

The result looks like this:
multiple response statistics

alternative table
defining variable sets

Using this approach the information we obtain is presented slightly differently. But from the output we infer:

  • 90 out of 100 respondents answered this question
  • Those 90 people ticked a total of 177 boxes, which is almost 2 boxes per respondent.
  • Again we have two sets of percentages. One column uses the total number of responses (177) as base value for the percentages and the other column uses the number of cases (90) as base.
    61% of the respondents considered price to be an important aspect. That is 31% of all the answers.

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Last modified 30-10-2012

Jos Seegers, 2009; English version by Gé Groenewegen.