The Vicissitudes of Measurement: A Confirmatory Factor Analysis of the Emotional Autonomy Scale

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Abstract

This study examined the factor structure of the Emotional Autonomy Scale (EAS) as proposed by Steinberg and Silverberg. Participants were from three independent samples of adolescents in grades 6 (n = 1,842), 8 (n = 1,769), and 10 (n = 1,232), with each sample consisting of three ethnic groups: African American, European American, and Mexican American. None of the confirmatory factor analyses for these samples supported the factor structure proposed by Steinberg and Silverberg. From the three models tested, the EAS is best described by the four originally proposed factors, combined with two method factors, one consisting of the positively worded scale items and one consisting of the negatively worded scale items. Results show that the EAS exhibits poor construct validity and behaves quite differently for the different grade and ethnic groups. The strong impact of method variance on the factor structure is discussed. Although various alternative solutions to the psychometric problems in the EAS are proposed, the most credible solution may be to reexamine the conceptual foundations of emotional autonomy and develop better measures of those concepts for adolescents.

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