Factor Analysis: The Way to Uncover Dimensions of a Scale


In 2007, while pursuing my doctoral degree, I (Baoshan Zhang) embarked on a study to develop a scale for measuring state self-monitoring. Although a Self-Monitoring Scale had been developed in 1974 to measure stable individual characteristics, the measure could be inadequate for examining the short-term self-monitoring elicited by certain social situational influences. Therefore, I explored the new structures of a state self-monitoring scale which was adapted from the initial Self-Monitoring Scale. This case study sheds light on the fundamental problem of how to develop a scale and subsequently elicit valid and reliable testimony, taking the reader to the heart of methodological problems that arose in the course of using exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis. Factor analysis, apparently, is very effective with reducing data; however, it has limited effectiveness with maintaining consistency between a proposed model and social reality.

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