Crosstab software can give you mounds of meaningful results, although they may not appear all that meaningful to you or your audience if you’re not adept at accurately reading them. A systematic, six-step process can help you conquer the reading of any crosstab software results, making it easier for you and your audience to fully understand the significance.
Decide on columns or rows
Determine if crosstab results should be read by columns or by rows, based on the independent variable. If the variable is in rows, read by rows. If independent variable is in columns, read by columns. In the below example, for instance, the independent variable is in columns, which would require reading the results by column.
|Loved New Product||Hated New Product||Total|
|Men||375 percent||125 percent||4100 percent|
|Women||6100 percent||00 percent||6100 percent|
|Total||990 percent||110 percent||10100 percent|
Read percentages, not numbers
When crosstab software results present you with both numerical values and percentages, always opt for the percentages to get a proportionate reading of the statistic’s significance.
For instance, if you saw the above results that said only nine people liked your new product, you’d think your product was truly bombing. When you looked at the bigger picture, however, and saw that only 10 people were surveyed, nine people are suddenly significant, accounting for 90 percent of the survey participants.
Put highest percentage first
Start reading your crosstab from the top row cell that has the highest percentage value. If we go back to the survey participants who liked your product, you could start with the 75 percent of men who liked your product, compared to the 25 percent that did not.
Now you move the second line of your crosstab, which outlines the percentage of women who love your new product. Here you would find the percentages with the biggest difference between the two lines to begin your explanation.
Since the same 25-percent difference happens to exist between the men and women who liked and disliked your product, you could go with either one in this case. Might as well keep it on a positive note, pointing out all the women surveyed loved your product, along with three-quarters of the men.
Translate percentages and numerical values into words
Notice we said “all the women surveyed” instead of 100 percent of the women? And we said three-quarters of the men instead of 75 percent? When you’re explaining crosstab software results to an audience, they’ll typically absorb the information more readily if you can translate numerical values into verbal expressions or natural language.
Do this line by line, ensuring your accurately expressing the significance of what you’re describing.
Summarize your line-by-line translation
Once you’ve gone through the entire slate of results, it’s time to summarize to highlight the most significant findings. In the case of your new product, an overwhelming majority of men and women loved it – with only a small fraction of participants giving it a thumb’s down.
Using this general formula can help you provide a detailed rundown as well as a comprehensive overview of any crosstab software results you encounter, making it easier for yourself as well as your audience.