Published Online: 30 JAN 2010
Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.
Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology
How to Cite
Byrne, B. M. 2010. Factor Analysis. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.
- Published Online: 30 JAN 2010
In broad terms, factor analysis focuses on the link between a set of intercorrelated variables and their representation by a smaller set of conceptually meaningful megavariables, termed factors. Within this all-encompassing umbrella description, factor analysis is more precisely characterized in terms of its function. If used to determine the extent to which the set of variables can be adequately represented by a smaller number of factors, then we are describing exploratory factor analysis. If, on the other hand, it is used in determining the extent to which a set of variables are adequately represented by a smaller number of factors as postulated by theory and/or empirical research, then we are describing confirmatory factor analysis. In providing a more comprehensive explanation of factor analysis, I first address the general notion of factor analysis and then follow with a more extensive description of both exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, together with a comparative summary of these two factor analytic approaches. Finally, I close this article by addressing important issues and caveats associated with the application of these approaches in psychological research.
Keywords: exploratory factor analysis; confirmatory factor analysis; principal components analysis; factor structures