collapsing several variables into groups

#1
Hi all, sincere apologies if this has been covered in the forum - I searched but perhaps did not use the correct keywords? I have also *oogled my query and consulted my textbooks so I promise I'm not being lazy (thick, possibly - but not intentionally lazy!).

Anyway, my question is this:
I have several variables that I would like to group together for comparison but cannot seem to collapse them into one...is this possible in SPSS?

a simplistic example:
v1: ever tried Pepsi?
v2: ever tried Coke?
v3: ever tried 7 UP?
v4: ever tried Dr Pepper?
etc etc

I would like to combine/collapse into one variable, "ever tried soft drinks?" There are approximately 1000 cases for each variable in my dataset, so doing this by hand isn't an option. I tried using the 'data restructure' function but that doesn't seem to be the correct method..

I'm sorry if this is a novice question, I'm at my wits end and I'm sure there is a simple answer :) Thank you in advance!!
 
#2
Yes, you can do that in SPSS. I would probably use the "compute variable" function on the Transform menu. Give your new variable a name and a "numeric expression" value of 1. Then choose the "If" option at the bottom. Select "Include if case satisfies condition" and make the condition v1=yes | v2=yes | v3=yes, etc. (| means "or"). That will return a value of 1 for your new variable if any of the input variables is yes.

The only potential problem you'll have is if your condition has too many characters (there is a limit, but I don't remember what it is). If so, you may need to break it down into more variables (eg, v1 and v2 = new1, v3 and v4 = new2, v5 and v6 = new3, then a rollup variable of new1, new2, and new3).