Factor Analysis (Sociology)

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  • A multivariate statistical method used to explain patterns of relationship among a large number of variables. Factor analysis identifies the underlying independent variables (“factors,” or latent variables) that were not measured but nonetheless significantly affect variation in the dependent variables. Factor analysis allows for the reduction in the number of variables to a smaller number of factors with a minimum loss of information. Factor analysis is also useful in the identification of groups of interrelated variables. Originated by the British psychologist Charles Spearman, factor analysis is used widely in the social sciences and marketing.

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