Exploratory Factor Analysis
In many areas of psychology, and other disciplines in the behavioural sciences, often it is not possible to measure directly the concepts of primary interest. Two obvious examples are intelligence and social class. In such cases, the researcher is forced to examine the concepts indirectly by collecting information on variables that can be measured or observed directly and can also realistically be assumed to be indicators, in some sense, of the concepts of real interest. The psychologist who is interested in an individual’s “intelligence”, for example, may record examination scores in a variety of different subjects in the expectation that these scores are dependent in some way on what is widely regarded as “intelligence” but are also subject to random errors. And a sociologist, say, concerned with people’s “social class”might pose questions about a person’s occupation, educational background, home ownership, etc., on the assumption that these do reect the concept he or she is really interested in.
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