TY - JOUR
AU - Kasper, Daniel
AU - Ünlü, Ali
PY - 2013
M3 - 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00109
SP - 109
TI - On the Relevance of Assumptions Associated with Classical Factor Analytic Approaches†
JO - Frontiers in Psychology
UR - https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00109
VL - 4
SN - 1664-1078
N2 - A personal trait, for example a person’s cognitive ability, represents a theoretical concept postulated to explain behavior. Interesting constructs are latent, that is, they cannot be observed. Latent variable modeling constitutes a methodology to deal with hypothetical constructs. Constructs are modeled as random variables and become components of a statistical model. As random variables, they possess a probability distribution in the population of reference. In applications, this distribution is typically assumed to be the normal distribution. The normality assumption may be reasonable in many cases, but there are situations where it cannot be justified. For example, this is true for criterion-referenced tests or for background characteristics of students in large scale assessment studies. Nevertheless, the normal procedures in combination with the classical factor analytic methods are frequently pursued, despite the effects of violating this “implicit” assumption are not clear in general. In a simulation study, we investigate whether classical factor analytic approaches can be instrumental in estimating the factorial structure and properties of the population distribution of a latent personal trait from educational test data, when violations of classical assumptions as the aforementioned are present. The results indicate that having a latent non-normal distribution clearly affects the estimation of the distribution of the factor scores and properties thereof. Thus, when the population distribution of a personal trait is assumed to be non-symmetric, we recommend avoiding those factor analytic approaches for estimation of a person’s factor score, even though the number of extracted factors and the estimated loading matrix may not be strongly affected. An application to the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) is given. Comments on possible implications for the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) complete the presentation.
ER -