Factor analytic models: viewing the structure of an assessment instrument from three perspectives

J Pers Assess. 2005 Aug;85(1):17-32. doi: 10.1207/s15327752jpa8501_02.


The overarching purpose of this article is to present a nonmathematical introduction to the application of confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) within the framework of structural equation modeling as it applies to psychological assessment instruments. In the interest of clarity and ease of understanding, I model exploratory factor analysis (EFA) structure in addition to first- and second-order CFA structures. All factor analytic structures are based on the same measuring instrument, the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II; Beck, Steer, & Brown, 1996). Following a "walk" through the general process of CFA modeling, I identify several common misconceptions and improper application practices with respect to both EFA and CFA and tender caveats with a view to preventing further proliferation of these pervasive practices.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical*
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Research Design