3 columns of categorical data - what test to use for significance?

Hi I did surveys on pre-teens, teens, 20s (3 "columns") and need to find signfifiance (p-value). What test do I use? I keep trying Chi square on graphpad prism 5, but I keep getting the message

Analysis of Contingency Table: Overview
Chi-square calculations are only valid when all expected
values are greater than 1.0 and at least 20% of the expected
values are greater than 5. These conditions have not been
met, and thus the chi-square calculations are not valid. To
avoid this problem, combine two or more rows or columns.

What do they mean "combine" I can't just combine three columns of data, so is there a better test I can use? Thank you.


Your data is in wide format right now. I'm guessing your program may want it in long format (one column). Here's an example of how the change looks:

Wide format (what you have)
   preteen teen twenties
1        B    D        A
2        E    B        A
3        D    A        E
4        C    C        E
5        A    A        C
6        E    D        A
7        C    A        C
8        E    D        A
9        B    E        A
10       C    A        B
Long format
      group out
1   preteen   B
2   preteen   E
3   preteen   D
4   preteen   C
5   preteen   A
6   preteen   E
7   preteen   C
8   preteen   E
9   preteen   B
10  preteen   C
11     teen   D
12     teen   B
13     teen   A
14     teen   C
15     teen   A
16     teen   D
17     teen   A
18     teen   D
19     teen   E
20     teen   A
21 twenties   A
22 twenties   A
23 twenties   E
24 twenties   E
25 twenties   C
26 twenties   A
27 twenties   C
28 twenties   A
29 twenties   A
30 twenties   B
Alright I reformatted it that way, now which statistical significance test should I use? For chi-sq it keeps asking for an expected value, and I have none; this was a survey.


TS Contributor
I think that people here could provide sound help as far as you give some more info and elaborate a bit more on your data and the goals you have in mind.