Factor Analysis

A statistical method for investigating relationships between variables that are not easily measured directly. Most commonly works by assigning similar variables into groups called dimensions. Factor analysis is a ‘dimensionality reduction’ technique. That is, it seeks to explain patterns in a  large number of variables by identifying a smaller number of underlying latent variables (‘factors’).


Summary (bullet points)

Can be explanatory or confirmatory

  • Explanatory factor analysis aims to find hidden relationships between variables when you have no idea what they might be
  • Confirmatory factor analysis relies on the researcher having an idea about how the relationships might be structured and seeks to confirm these ideas

Classification (s)

Research term

Classification (s)


Foundational paper (s)

Watkins, M. W. (2018). Exploratory Factor Analysis: A Guide to Best Practice. Journal of Black Psychology, 44(3), 219–246.