, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 357–388 | Cite as

Quantitative analysis of qualitative data

  • Forrest W. Young


This paper presents an overview of an approach to the quantitative analysis of qualitative data with theoretical and methodological explanations of the two cornerstones of the approach, Alternating Least Squares and Optimal Scaling. Using these two principles, my colleagues and I have extended a variety of analysis procedures originally proposed for quantitative (interval or ratio) data to qualitative (nominal or ordinal) data, including additivity analysis and analysis of variance; multiple and canonical regression; principal components; common factor and three mode factor analysis; and multidimensional scaling. The approach has two advantages: (a) If a least squares procedure is known for analyzing quantitative data, it can be extended to qualitative data; and (b) the resulting algorithm will be convergent. Three completely worked through examples of the additivity analysis procedure and the steps involved in the regression procedures are presented.

Key words

exploratory data analysis descriptive data analysis multivariate data analysis nonmetric data analysis alternating least squares scaling data theory 


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Copyright information

© The Psychometric Society 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Forrest W. Young
    • 1
  1. 1.L. L. Thurstone Psychometric LaboratoryUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillUSA

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