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Factor Analysis

What can factor analysis do for you?
Suppose you compute a matrix of intercorrelations among a set of variables. Some variables seem to interrelate more among themselves than others, but you can't determine the pattern.
Factor analysis to the rescue!

This workshop session will illustrate the method by analyzing citizens' attitudes toward toward Bush, Clinton, and Perot (measured by the "feeling thermometer") from the 1992 National Election Study. Then I'll apply factor analysis in a more substantive inquiry using data from comparative politics. If you understand the basics of correlation and regression analysis, you should be able to understand my mathematics-free presentation.

Factor Analysis in Contemporary Political Research

Political research, including methods of research, goes through "fads." Certain methods--such as factor analysis and path analysis--were once hot topics often reported in the pages of the American Political Science Review. Although factor analysis (and path analysis) are no longer the rage in political science, both have their place in political research. In other scientific fields, factor analysis is very much in vogue. An internet search for "factor analysis" in mid-January 2003 turned up 132,000 hits. Even limiting the search to "factor analysis" and "political" returned 15,500 hits. So the method is certainly alive.

Selected Resources on Factor Analysis
Outline of Talk