The exploratory factor analysis of items: guided analysis based on empirical data and software.

Susana Lloret, Adoración Ferreres, Ana Hernández, Inés Tomás


The aim of the present study is to illustrate how the appropriate or inappropriate application of exploratory factor analysis (EFA) can lead to quite different conclusions. To reach this goal, we evaluated the degree to which four different programs used to perform an EFA, specifically SPSS, FACTOR, PRELIS and MPlus, allow or limit the application of the currently recommended standards. In addition, we analyze and compare the results offered by the four programs when factor analyzing empirical data from scales that fit the assumptions of the classic linear EFA modeling adequately, ambiguously, or optimally, depending on the case, through the possibilities the different programs offer. The results of the comparison show the consequences of choosing one program or another; and the consequences of selecting some options or others within the same program, depending on the nature of the data. Finally, the study offers practical recommendations for applied researchers with a methodological orientation.


Exploratory Factor Analysis; SPSS; FACTOR; PRELIS; MPlus.

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