The one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) is used to determine whether there are any significant differences between the means of two or more independent (unrelated) groups (although you tend to only see it used when there are a minimum of three, rather than two groups). For example, you could use a one-way ANOVA to understand whether exam performance differed based on test anxiety levels amongst students, dividing students into three independent groups (e.g., low, medium and high-stressed students). It is important to realise that the one-way ANOVA is an omnibus test statistic and cannot tell you which specific groups were significantly different from each other; it only tells you that at least two groups were different. Since you may have three, four, five or more groups in your study design, determining which of these groups differ from each other is important. You can do this using a post-hoc test (N.B., we discuss post-hoc tests later in this guide).
NOTE: If your study design not only involves one dependent variable and one independent variable, but also a third variable (known as a "covariate") that you want to "statistically control", you may need to perform an ANCOVA (analysis of covariance), which can be thought of as an extension of the one-way ANOVA. To learn more, see our SPSS guide on ANCOVA. Alternatively, if your dependent variable is the time until an event happens, you might need to run a Kaplan-Meier analysis instead.
This "quick start" guide shows you how to carry out a one-way ANOVA using SPSS, as well as interpret and report the results from this test. Since the one-way ANOVA is often followed up with post-hoc tests, we also show you how to carry these out using SPSS. However, before we introduce you to this procedure, you need to understand the different assumptions that your data must meet in order for a one-way ANOVA to give you a valid result. We discuss these assumptions next.
When you choose to analyse your data using a one-way ANOVA, part of the process involves checking to make sure that the data you want to analyse can actually be analysed using a one-way ANOVA. You need to do this because it is only appropriate to use a one-way ANOVA if your data "passes" six assumptions that are required for a one-way ANOVA to give you a valid result. In practice, checking for these six assumptions just adds a little bit more time to your analysis, requiring you to click a few more buttons in SPSS when performing your analysis, as well as think a little bit more about your data, but it is not a difficult task.
Before we introduce you to these six assumptions, do not be surprised if, when analysing your own data using SPSS, one or more of these assumptions is violated (i.e., is not met). This is not uncommon when working with real-world data rather than textbook examples, which often only show you how to carry out a one-way ANOVA when everything goes well! However, don’t worry. Even when your data fails certain assumptions, there is often a solution to overcome this. First, let’s take a look at these six assumptions:
You can check assumptions #4, #5 and #6 using SPSS. Before doing this, you should make sure that your data meets assumptions #1, #2 and #3, although you don't need SPSS to do this. When moving on to assumptions #4, #5 and #6, we suggest testing them in this order because it represents an order where, if a violation to the assumption is not correctable, you will no longer be able to use a one-way ANOVA (although you may be able to run another statistical test on your data instead). Just remember that if you do not run the statistical tests on these assumptions correctly, the results you get when running a one-way ANOVA might not be valid. This is why we dedicate a number of sections of our enhanced one-way ANOVA guide to help you get this right. You can find out about our enhanced one-way ANOVA guide here, or more generally, our enhanced content as a whole here.
In the section, Procedure, we illustrate the SPSS procedure to perform a one-way ANOVA assuming that no assumptions have been violated. First, we set out the example we use to explain the one-way ANOVA procedure in SPSS.
A manager wants to raise the productivity at his company by increasing the speed at which his employees can use a particular spreadsheet program. As he does not have the skills in-house, he employs an external agency which provides training in this spreadsheet program. They offer 3 courses: a beginner, intermediate and advanced course. He is unsure which course is needed for the type of work they do at his company, so he sends 10 employees on the beginner course, 10 on the intermediate and 10 on the advanced course. When they all return from the training, he gives them a problem to solve using the spreadsheet program, and times how long it takes them to complete the problem. He then compares the three courses (beginner, intermediate, advanced) to see if there are any differences in the average time it took to complete the problem.
In SPSS, we separated the groups for analysis by creating a grouping variable called Course (i.e., the independent variable), and gave the beginners course a value of "1", the intermediate course a value of "2" and the advanced course a value of "3". Time to complete the set problem was entered under the variable name Time (i.e., the dependent variable). In our enhanced one-way ANOVA guide, we show you how to correctly enter data in SPSS to run a one-way ANOVA (see here). You can learn about our enhanced data setup content in general here. Alternately, we have a generic, "quick start" guide to show you how to enter data into SPSS, available here.
The eight steps below show you how to analyse your data using a one-way ANOVA in SPSS when the six assumptions in the previous section, Assumptions, have not been violated. At the end of these eight steps, we show you how to interpret the results from this test. If you are looking for help to make sure your data meets assumptions #4, #5 and #6, which are required when using a one-way ANOVA, and can be tested using SPSS, you can learn more here.
Click Analyze > Compare Means > One-Way ANOVA... on the top menu as shown below.
Published with written permission from SPSS, IBM Corporation.
You will be presented with the following screen:
Published with written permission from SPSS, IBM Corporation.
Transfer the dependent variable (Time) into the Dependent List: box and the independent variable (Course) into the Factor: box using the appropriate buttons (or drag-and-drop the variables into the boxes), as indicted in the diagram below:
Published with written permission from SPSS, IBM Corporation.
Click the button. Tick the Tukey checkbox as shown below:
Published with written permission from SPSS, IBM Corporation.
Click the button.
Click the button. Tick the Descriptive checkbox in the –Statistics– area, as shown below:
Published with written permission from SPSS, IBM Corporation.
NOTE: When testing for some of the assumptions of the one-way ANOVA, you will need to tick more of these checkboxes. We take you through this, including how to interpret the output, in our enhanced one-way ANOVA guide.
Click the button.
Click the button.
Go to the next page for the SPSS output and an explanation of the output.