[R] Factor Analysis?

Peter Dalgaard BSA p.dalgaard at biostat.ku.dk
Wed Feb 2 16:09:01 CET 2000

Maria Wolters <wolters at ikp.uni-bonn.de> writes:

> Brian Ripley wrote:
> > My feeling is that there are plenty of packages that do factor analysis,
> > and not much demand for it in R.  Anyone want to write a factor analysis
> > package for R?
> Well, IM very HO, the problem is that factor analysis is frequently used in the social
> sciences, and social science people tend to prefer more GUI-orineted
> packages such as SPSS or Systat. Therefore, demands have been low.
> I believe that if R is to be a true alternative to mainstream stats 
> packages, it should include this functionality. 

Erm, while there is a certain truth to what you're saying, in that
factor analysis is often used by people who find anything non-GUI too
difficult, I don't think that is a valid cause for further supporting
that state of affairs... Such users will have no grasp of what a
factor analysis means and will likely overinterpret the results. 

There are good reasons to support factor analysis and other variants
of "structural equations modelling" and there are also good reasons to
make R more accessible to people with simple statistical needs, but
oversimplifying complicated models is a real danger. (And I have
several scary stories of the "I just filled in the forms the way it
seemed to be intended" variety, mostly with SPSS users.)

   O__  ---- Peter Dalgaard             Blegdamsvej 3  
  c/ /'_ --- Dept. of Biostatistics     2200 Cph. N   
 (*) \(*) -- University of Copenhagen   Denmark      Ph: (+45) 35327918
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