chapter  20
13 Pages

Factor Analysis

OVER THE past 60 or 70 years, factor analysis has gained increasing acceptance and popularity. Raymond B. Cattell drew attention to the procedure when he used factor analysis to reduce a list of more than 4,500 trait names to fewer than 200 questions that measured 16 different personality traits in his personality inventory called the 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF). Cattell’s use of factor analysis underlines its primary usefulness, that is, to take a large number of observable instances to measure an unobservable construct or constructs. For instance: “Attends loud parties,” “talks a lot,” “appears comfortable interacting with just about anyone,” and “is usually seen with others” are four behaviors that can be observed that may measure an unobservable construct called “outgoing.” Factor analysis is most frequently used to identify a small number of factors (e.g., outgoing) that may be used to represent relationships among sets of interrelated variables (e.g., the four descriptors).