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The varimax criterion for analytic rotation in factor analysis


An analytic criterion for rotation is defined. The scientific advantage of analytic criteria over subjective (graphical) rotational procedures is discussed. Carroll's criterion and the quartimax criterion are briefly reviewed; the varimax criterion is outlined in detail and contrasted both logically and numerically with the quartimax criterion. It is shown that thenormal varimax solution probably coincides closely to the application of the principle of simple structure. However, it is proposed that the ultimate criterion of a rotational procedure is factorial invariance, not simple structure—although the two notions appear to be highly related. The normal varimax criterion is shown to be a two-dimensional generalization of the classic Spearman case, i.e., it shows perfect factorial invariance for two pure clusters. An example is given of the invariance of a normal varimax solution for more than two factors. The oblique normal varimax criterion is stated. A computational outline for the orthogonal normal varimax is appended.

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Part of the material in this paper is from the writer's Ph.D. thesis. I am indebted to my committee, Professors F. T. Tyler, R. C. Tryon, and H. D. Carter, chairman, for many helpful suggestions and criticisms. Dr. John Caffrey suggested the namevarimax, and wrote the original IBM 602A computer program for this criterion.

I am also indebted to the staff of the University of California Computer Center for help in programming the procedures described in the paper for their IBM 701 electronic computer. Since their installation is partially supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the assistance of this agency is acknowledged.

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Kaiser, H.F. The varimax criterion for analytic rotation in factor analysis. Psychometrika 23, 187–200 (1958).

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  • Public Policy
  • Statistical Theory
  • Analytic Criterion
  • Simple Structure
  • Factorial Invariance