Exploratory and Confirmatory Factor Analysis: Developing the Purpose in Life Test–Short Form


This case study discusses the development of a short form of the Purpose in Life Test by using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. We describe why the creation of a useful, separate scale for measuring only meaning in life was desirable. The analyses used here, while normally complex, are broken down into manageable research questions that will show you how to interpret factor analyses and use these results in future endeavors. We first analyzed the original, 20-item version of the Purpose in Life Test to determine which items would be the most beneficial at assessing meaning. Those items were examined in a second set of studies to analyze reliability of the proposed short form, which was revealed to be a handy tool for evaluating a person's perceived meaning in life. Meaning (or lack thereof) is an important concept, which is related to positive and negative variables, such as happiness, life satisfaction, depression, and drug use. You will learn about the challenges and advantages to using factor analysis, and why it is an essential statistical procedure for researchers who are interested in scale development, validation, and refinement. This case study is an extension of material originally presented by Schulenberg, Buchanan, and colleagues.

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