Overview

I received an e-mail inquiry about weighted data recently and realized that while I cover this in my survey data class I had not yet posted anything about it here.  Time to remedy that.

The good news is that it is not at all difficult to work with weighted survey data in Tableau.  And just what do I mean by weighted data? We use weighting to adjust the results of a study so that the results better reflect what is known about the population. For example, if the subscribers to your magazine are 60% female but the people that take your survey are only 45% female you should weigh the responses from females more heavily than males.

To do this each survey respondent should have a weighting amount associated with their respondent ID, as shown here.

Figure 1 – A snippet of survey data showing a separate column for Weight.

When pivoting / reshaping the data make sure that [Weight] does not get reshaped.  It should remain in its own column like the other demographic data.

Once this is in place we’ll need to modify the formulas for the following questions types:

• Yes / No / Maybe (single punch)
• Check-all-that-apply (multi-punch)
• Sentiment / Likert Scale (simple stacked bar)
• Sentiment / Likert Scale (divergent stacked bar)

Yes / No / Maybe (single punch)

With this type of question you usually want to determine the percentage of the total.

Figure 2 — Visualization of a single-punch question

Unweighted calculation

The table calculation to determine the percentage of total using unweighted data is

`   SUM([Number of Records]) / TOTAL(SUM([Number of Records]))`

Weighted calculation

The table calculation to determine the percentage of total using weighted data is

`   SUM([Weight]) / TOTAL(SUM([Weight]))`

Check-all-that-apply (multi punch)

With this type of question you usually want to determine the percentage of people that selected an item.  The total will almost always add up to more than 100% as you are allowing people to select multiple items.

Figure 3 — Visualization of a multi-punch question

Most surveys will code the items that are checked with a “1” and those that are not checked with a “0”.

Unweighted calculation

The calculation to determine the percentage of people selecting an item using unweighted data is

`   SUM([Value]) / SUM([Number of Records])`

where [Value] is the name of the measure that contains the survey responses.  If the survey responses are coded as labels instead of numbers you can use this formula instead.

`   SUM(IF [Label]="Yes" then 1 ELSE 0 END) / SUM([Number of Records])`

Weighted calculation

The calculation to determine the percentage of people selecting an item using weighted data is

`   SUM(IF [Value]=1 then [Weight] ELSE 0 END) / SUM([Weight])`

Sentiment / Likert Scale (simple stacked bar)

This is very similar to the single-punch question but instead we have several questions and compare them using a stacked bar chart.  I am not a big fan of this approach but it can be useful when you superimpose some type of score (e.g., average Likert value, percent top 2 boxes, etc.).

Figure 4 — Simple Likert Scale visualization

Figure 5 — Simple Likert Scale visualization with Percent Top 2 Boxes combo chart

Unweighted calculation – Stacked Bar

The table calculation to determine the percentage of total using unweighted data is

`   SUM([Number of Records]) / TOTAL(SUM([Number of Records]))`

Weighted calculation – Stacked Bar

The table calculation to determine the percentage of total using weighted data is

`   SUM([Weight]) / TOTAL(SUM([Weight]))`

Unweighted calculation – Percent Top 2 Boxes

Assuming a 1 through 5 Likert scale, the calculation to determine the percentage of people selecting either Very high degree or High Degree (top 2 boxes) using unweighted data is

`   SUM(IF [Value]>=4 then 1 ELSE 0) / SUM([Number of Records])`

Weighted calculation – Percent Top 2 Boxes

Assuming a 1 through 5 Likert scale, The calculation to determine the percentage of people selecting either Very high degree or High Degree (top 2 boxes) using weighted data is

`   SUM(IF [Value]>=4 then [Weight] ELSE 0) / SUM([Weight])`

Sentiment / Likert Scale (divergent stacked bar)

Here is what I believe is a preferable way to show how sentiment skews across different questions.

Figure 6 — A divergent stacked bar chart

I’ve covered how to build this type of chart using unweighted values here.

There are six fields we need to fashion the visualization, three of which need to be modified to make the visualization work with weighted data.

• Count Negative
• Gantt Percent
• Gantt Start
• Percentage
• Total Count
• Total Count Negative

Count Negative – Unweighted

Assuming a 1 – 5 Likert scale, the calculation to determine the number of negative sentiment responses using unweighted data is

```   IF [Score]<3 THEN 1
ELSEIF [Score]=3 THEN .5
ELSE 0 END```

Count Negative – Weighted

Assuming a 1 – 5 Likert scale, the calculation to determine the number of negative sentiment responses using weighted data is

```   IF [Score]<3 THEN [Weight]
ELSEIF [Score]=3 THEN .5 * [Weight]
ELSE 0 END```

Percentage – Unweighted

The calculation that determines both the size of the Gantt bar and the label for the bar using unweighted data is

`   SUM([Number of Records])/[Total Count]`

Percentage – Weighted

The calculation that determines both the size of the Gantt bar and the label for the bar using weighted data is

`   SUM([Weight])/[Total Count]`

Total Count – Unweighted

The calculation that determines the total number of responses for a particular question for unweighted data is

`   TOTAL(SUM([Number of Records]))`

Total Count – Weighted

The calculation that determines the total number of responses for a particular question for weighted data is

`   TOTAL(SUM([Weight]))`

Summary

Here’s a summary of all the unweighted calculations and their weighted equivalents

 Unweighted Weighted SUM([Number of Records]) / TOTAL(SUM([Number of Records])) SUM([Weight]) / TOTAL(SUM([Weight])) SUM([Value]) / SUM([Number of Records]) SUM(IF [Value]=1 then [Weight] ELSE 0 END) / SUM([Weight]) SUM(IF [Value]>=4 then 1 ELSE 0) / SUM([Number of Records]) SUM(IF [Value]>=4 then [Weight] ELSE 0) / SUM([Weight]) IF [Score]<3 THEN 1 ELSEIF [Score]=3 THEN .5 ELSE 0 END IF [Score]<3 THEN [Weight] ELSEIF [Score]=3 THEN .5 * [Weight] ELSE 0 END SUM([Number of Records])/[Total Count] SUM([Weight])/[Total Count] TOTAL(SUM([Number of Records])) TOTAL(SUM([Weight]))

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21 Responses to “Working with Weighted Survey Data”

1. Hi Steve – thanks for posting. Weighted survey data adds another layer of complexity, and I’ve had trouble with it before.

But doesn’t using SUM([Weights]) as the denominator in the percent of total calculations mean we are returning percent of responSES, not percent of respondENTS? In other words, you can have zero, one, or many responses per respondent in a “select all” question, meaning the SUM([Weights]) will be different for each “select all” question and will not be equal to the weighted total number of respondents. Don’t we need to use a sort of “sum distinct” function to only count a respondent in the denominator once? I haven’t figured out how to do that though (Tableau has a Count Distinct function, but no SUM Distinct).

• Jeff,

SUM([Weights]) works for the same reason that SUM([Number of Records]) and SUM(1) works for unweighted data. It turns out that you do NOT have find the equivalent of COUNTD([ID]). Because we are only seeing responses for each question and not for the overall survey we don’t need to determine the distinct number of respondents.

You can placate your concern by placing the questions on rows and COUNT(ID), COUNTD(ID), and SUM([Number of Records]) on columns. You’ll get the same results for all three pills.

When you get a chance go to http://www.datarevelations.com/visualizing-survey-data and download the sample packaged workbook. It walks through all the different examples.

The only wrinkle in the whole thing is getting weighted responses for the demographic questions. Here we need to filter the results by whatever question received a response from all survey takers.

Steve

2. it would be great if you append dashboards

3. Hi Steve,

Thanks a lot for the info! Could you share how to create the weight variable in Tableau please? Can it be calculated within the system automatically?

All the best,

Matt

• Matt,

Great question and I do not yet have an answer for you.

My client typically use SPSS to weigh the data and then we either export that data to .CSV files or import it into Alteryx. I’ve no doubt there must be a way to avoid the SPSS step and come up with a way, either inside Tableau or certainly inside Alteryx, to do this.

Tackling this is on my to-do list; just haven’t gotten to it yet.

Steve

4. Hi Steve,

I really enjoyed your working with survey data class and have gotten great help from your blog posts/website. One thing I have yet to find or figure out on my own is how to handle mean scores with weighted data.

I used LikertValue: Float(Left([Label],2)) for unweighted mean scores but can’t figure out how to manipulate that for weighted data.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Mike

• Mike,

I gather your FLOAT(LEFT([Label,2)) is giving you a number (probably between 1 and 5) and then you are taking the average of that, as in

AVG(FLOAT(LEFT([Label,2)))

Assuming that each respondent has a weight value, (let’s call it [WEIGHT]) I think this would work:

AVG(
FLOAT(LEFT([Label,2)) * [WEIGHT]
)

Steve

• Thanks Steve for the quick reply.

I tried your suggestion but using AVG( FLOAT(LEFT([Label,2)) * [WEIGHT]) didn’t work.

I created a new measure “LikertValue (weighted)” with the following code:
Float(Left([Label],2))*[Weight Alt]
and in the shelf chose this: AVG([LikertValue (weighted)])

Some of the mean scores are outside the range of values so something odd is happening.

• Try this:

Weight at the respondent level: [Weight Alt]
Likert Response: [Value]

SUM([Value]*[Weight Alt]) / SUM([Weight Alt])

Yes, I know you have to do the string to float conversion as you don’t have straight-ahead values in your data set. You *should* be able to swap out [Value] with Float(Left([Label],2)) and get what you need.

SUM(Float(Left([Label],2))*[Weight Alt]) / SUM([Weight Alt])

Steve

• This worked! Thank you so very much.

5. Hi Swexler,

I am trying to calculate weighted score for a survey data for each question and further aggregate them an different demographics like question group, location, gender etc.

There are 2 type of questions, positively framed and negatively framed. Each question has 5 responses as value.

Neutral
Somewhat agree
Somewhat disagree
Strongly agree
Strongly disagree

I tried to calculate the % count of responses as
COUNT([Value]) / TOTAL(COUNT([Value]))

and again, I am trying below calculation for weighted average as per the calculation below
IF ATTR([Qframe])=”Positively Framed Question” and ATTR([Value])=”Neutral” then ([%Count]*50)
ELSEIF
ATTR([Qframe])=”Positively Framed Question” and ATTR([Value])=”Somewhat agree” then ([%Count]*75)
ELSEIF
ATTR([Qframe])=”Positively Framed Question” and ATTR([Value])=”Somewhat disagree” then ([%Count]*25)
ELSEIF
ATTR([Qframe])=”Positively Framed Question” and ATTR([Value])=”Strongly disagree” then ([%Count]*0)
ELSEIF
ATTR([Qframe])=”Positively Framed Question” and ATTR([Value])=”Strongly agree” then ([%Count]*100)
ELSEIF
ATTR([Qframe])=”Negatively Framed Question” and ATTR([Value])=”Neutral” then ([%Count]*50)
ELSEIF
ATTR([Qframe])=”Negatively Framed Question” and ATTR([Value])=”Somewhat agree” then ([%Count]*25)
ELSEIF
ATTR([Qframe])=”Negatively Framed Question” and ATTR([Value])=”Somewhat disagree” then ([%Count]*75)
ELSEIF
ATTR([Qframe])=”Negatively Framed Question” and ATTR([Value])=”Strongly disagree” then ([%Count]*100)
ELSEIF
ATTR([Qframe])=”Negatively Framed Question” and ATTR([Value])=”Strongly agree” then ([%Count]*0)
ELSE 0
END

Above calculation works fine on Question level but I am getting wrong values for sub totals at question group or if any filter applies.

Also, I tried to assign values for the positively framed questions as
Neutral 3
Somewhat agree 2
Somewhat disagree 4
Strongly agree 1
Strongly disagree 5
and for negatively framed questions as
Neutral 3
Somewhat agree 4
Somewhat disagree 2
Strongly agree 5
Strongly disagree 1

so that there wont be any need for identifier for sentiments.

still no luck.

I can create another column in back end data if require.

• Suraj,

I am not sure why the same workbook that I make available does not address what you need. You are trying to analyze Likert-scale questions, correct. Do you have a separate weighting for each ID or are you coming up with a weight variable on the fly?

It shouldn’t matter. The example I have has a separate column for weighting. In the packaged workbook (you can download it from http://www.datarevelations.com/DataRevelations_TC2014.zip) you will find a tab called “Likert Scale Questions using Divergent Stacked Bar (Weighted)”. You can add various dimensions to rows or to filters and you’ll see everything works.

If you want to do a “Percent of people that chose the top 2 boxes” type of visualization the calculation would look like this:

SUM(IF [Score]>=4 then [Weight] else 0 end) / SUM([Weight))

This assume you are using a 1 – 5 Likert scale.

OK… what if what I’m providing here does not work?

I am slammed until the middle of next week. So, if you need an answer now GO TO THE TABLEAU WEBSITE and post your question to the ENTIRE community. There’s an entire group dedicated to visualizing survey data.

If that doesn’t work, we can set up a screen-sharing session for next week.

Steve

6. Hi Steve, thanks for all you do. The survey data information in your blog is gold for many of us.

I am struggling to come up with a solution to calculate z-test for weighted data. Actually is the proportional z-test for weighed data since what I need is to compare last month % vs same month last year %. (my % are promoters or detractors)

I know how to do this without a problem with unweighted survey data but in this case, we need to do the significant testing with weighted data.

Also, the coloring is not an issue either since I know how to do it. My issue is to come up with the calculation in Tableau. After so much research I found that SPSS can calculate that very easy but I need this in Tableau since I use Qualtrics for the surveys and then Alteryx to Tableau so I am not sure if I should do the calculation outside Tableau. Any ideas, suggestions, references you can provide? I was unable to find a post in the tableau community so I posted in the forums.

• Yamil,

Hmm… I’m sure I’ve dealt with this a bunch of times, but not quickly finding example workbooks.

I assume you’ve looked at the following post, yes?

http://www.datarevelations.com/showing-now-versus-then.html

My hunch is that for all the formulas, if you replace wherever you see [number of records] or 1 with [Weight] it may just work.

I’ll keep looking but so far this is what I can come up with.

Steve

7. Hi Steve – Thanks for the site. I wanted to note that if the survey questions have different n sizes (e.g., some people skip some of the questions), then each item needs a separate weight. Alternatively, one could use mean replacement for missing values of the original scores, which would allow one weight column again. Also, note that if one does not have access to the “raw” data file, the weighting can be done if you know sample sizes for each segment:

Weighted Mean for each segment = raw mean * segment sample size / segment population size
or
Weighted Percent Favorable for each segment = raw % * segment sample size / segment population size

Where estimated population score = SUM of weighted scores for each segment

But some online survey reporting tools only report the maximum n size for a group (not an n size for each item), which would reduce the accuracy of the population estimate if respondents can skip questions.

• Paul,

Thanks for the comments. Indeed, my calculations are on a weighted value for each respondent becoming part of their demographic profile rather than calculating the weight based on the particular question that is in play. While I’ve not done it (I don’t have the statistics chops) it should be possible to generate a weighting, on the fly, in Tableau.

8. Hi Steve, thanks for a great article. I recently completed a study of Students. There were large differences in the composition of Graduate vs Undergraduate Students in the survey responses vs the Student population as a whole, so I weighted the data on this. Now I’ve been asked to segment and compare Domestic vs International Students in the analysis. Do I need to look into weighting each of these segments or do I just breakout the already-weighted all responses data into Domestic and International? Why or why not? Thank you for any help you are able to provide.

• Dan,

Truth be told I’m not sure as this is not within my expertise.

I’ll do some research and suggest you do the same… lots of people out there that should be able to help.

I’ll post if I find anything useful and hope you will do the same.

Steve

• Dan,

Here is a response from a friend and colleague who works at Marist Poll:

There are a couple of questions I have that need to be considered in order to provide an answer to the question.

1) Are there population parameters available for which to weight? By that I mean are there known data about the composition of the population that can be used to apply weights? It appears that this is a survey of a college/university, so are there known counts of the proportion of students that are domestic undergraduate students, international undergraduate students, domestic undergraduate students, and international graduate students?

2) If there are known population parameters, what was it about the data collection that didn’t allow for a representative sample?

3) If there are known population parameters and a sense that data collection was representative and things are still not balanced, I would suggest a redo of the weights to a variable that includes the following categories:

There certainly should not be another weight on top of the weight that has already been done.

If there is not an issue with domestic vs. international being representative, it may be best served to have that as a cross-tab to highlight differences or similarities among those groups.

9. Hi Steve, thank you sooo much for your response (and please thank your associate at Marist Poll as well). I apologize for my delay in response. Here are my responses to the questions:

1) Yes, there are known data about the population that can be used to apply weights. We are a membership association surveying our Student members, so we have information from when they join us. When the survey results came back, I noticed this discrepancy when compared to our total population of Student members, so I weighted the data accordingly on this parameter alone. Other demographics (e.g. % domestic or international) were comparable b/tw our Student population as a whole and the survey respondents. Theoretically, we could compare the groups you suggest (domestic undergrad, international undergrad, etc.)

2) I sent the survey to all Student members to get a good sample size, as we are segmenting the data so were looking for as many respondents as possible to ensure sample sizes high enough to report on. I did not know Graduate Students would be more likely to respond and that this discrepancy would exist.

3) Do I need to incorporate Domestic vs International into the weighting scheme since there were not differences (in terms of total population) b/tw all our Student members and the survey respondents?
So, again, I am presenting the results as 1) overall (weighted) results (all questions by all survey respondents…one group), 2) all questions by graduate versus undergraduate students to look at differences b/tw these groups and 3) all questions by domestic versus international students to look at differences b/tw these groups.
My question is for 2) and 3) do I use the weighted or unweighted results (or do I need to do more weighting w/in 2) and 3) …this seems excessive).

Thanks again!

Dan