Correlations between dimensions of the permanent teeth in Australian Aboriginals were studied by factor analysis to disclose the main sources of shared variability. Findings indicated that in both males and females most of the common variability in the tooth dimensions could be accounted for by factors representing mesiodistal size of anterior teeth, buccolingual size of anterior teeth, generalized size of the premolars and generalized size of the molars.
Factor scores derived from the analysis were used to calculate intraclass correlations among brothers and among sisters. These correlations tended to be higher for the factors contributing most to the common variability indicating that the factors might represent fields under direct genetic control. There was no trend for intraclass correlations among siblings derived from multivariate scores to be consistently higher than those based on observed tooth dimensions. The main advantage to the user of factor analysis is the ability to interpret associations between interrelated variables more objectively than is possible by conventional correlation methods.