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Module Project: Factor Analysis of Personality Data


Requirements are final project – Week 8, 2000 words, APA.

Personality, Individual Differences, and Intelligence Module Project: Factor Analysis of Personality Data

Over the course of this module, you will conduct a highly in-depth analysis of simu- lated personality data. For this analysis, you will determine how many factors are measured by a 25-item questionnaire, based on sets of data provided by your In- structor, and identify which items align to which factor(s). Your Module Project will be comprised of 3 parts that include the following sections of a practical report: Introduc- tion, Methods, Results, and Discussion. The Introduction section (Part 1) should be a maximum of 1,000 words. The Methodology should be at least 500 words based on information provided in this document. The Methodology and the Results section (Part 2) combined must be a maximum of 1500 words in length. Finally, the Discus- sionsection (Part 3) should be a maximum of 2000 words.

In the first two weeks of the module, no Module Project Assignments are due. How- ever, your first Module Project Assignment (Part 1) is due by the conclusion of Week

  1. Part 2 is due by the end of Week 6 and Part 3 is due by the end of Week 8. You are encouraged to start as early as you can, familiarising yourself with some of the tools and information presented for the Module Project. Additional details regarding data, applicable resources, and deliverables are as follows:


  • Week 3: Write an Introduction section (Part 1) for a scientific paper. This should give the theoretical background to the study (why it is being per- formed), make appropriate reference to other similar studies, and lead on to a clear statement of why the study is necessary and what you expect to find. This section of the final Module Project will require that you carry out a litera- ture search and review relevant research. This section should be a maximum of 1,000 words. Part 1 is due by Day 7 of Week 3.
    • Weeks 4–6: Perform a factor analysis using SPSS, using a data file in the module Learning Resources. Present the results of the statistical analyses fol- lowing the model of the Results section (Part 2) of a scientific paper. The Re- sults and Methods sections combined should be a maximum of 1500 words. Your Instructor will hold a live, synchronous session at least once during these weeks to assist you with understanding how to carry out the statistical analyses and interpreting results. The session(s) will be recorded for those who cannot attend. Note: Because the download and installation of SPSS can often cause technical problems, it is highly recommended that you attempt to install the program this week to ensure that all technical difficulties are re- solved by the time you need to use it in Week 4. Part 2 of the module Project is comprised of both the Results and Methodology section and is due by Day 7 of Week 6.
    • During Weeks 4–6, you will prepare your Methodology section (Part 2). For the purposes of this assignment, your method will be compromised of a brief description of the questionnaires from which your data sample was derived (as per the hypothetical study presented to you for this assignment), and the numbers of participants or cases provided to you in the description of the hy- pothetical study. This component of your assignment has should be at least 500 words but has not word limit associated with it; However, note the Meth- odology and Results sections have a maximum word length combined of 1500 words. You will be graded on your ability to clearly identify and describe the methods used as well as the rationale for why those methods were the best choice for your study. Part 2 of the module Project is comprised of both the Results and Methodology section and is due by Day 7 of Week 6.
    • Weeks 7–8: Write the Discussion section (Part 3), where you interpret what the results show, discuss whether the study showed what you expected it to, whether it is consistent with the previous literature (and if not, why not), and what the theoretical and practical implications of your work are. You might also like to consider any flaws in your study (including those derived from the hypothetical bullet points in the following “Background” section) and things that you should have done differently when designing it. This section should be a maximum of 2,000 words and is due by Day 7 of Week 8.

Assessment of Performance for Module Project

The Module Project contributes 70% of your grade for this module. Each component of the Module Project (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion) will contribute individually towards the final module mark, which will be awarded for each of the fol- lowing:

  • The quality of the Introduction, including your ability to identify, read, and sum- marise relevant journal articles and structure an Introduction so that it leads naturally to a statement of your research hypotheses. You are expected to show (by your depth of knowledge) that you have read complete journal arti- cles, not just abstracts.
    • The quality of your Methods, including your ability to clearly identify and de- scribe the methods used as well as rationale for why those methods were the best choice for your study.
    • The quality of your Results—including the technical quality of your factor anal- ysis, your ability to correctly interpret the results, and your ability to display this in the prescribed format for a report using the guidelines you were given in the module LPSY-303 Data Analysis for Psychology. This will include text and possibly tables, graphs, or other figures.
    • The quality of the Discussion section, in which you highlight the key findings of your research and identify implications of those results. You will also be evaluated on your ability to relate your findings to the existing literature and evaluate their merit. This will also require you to locate, review, critically ana- lyse, and cite relevant journal articles.

You will lose marks for the following:

  • Not formatting the report according to APA Referencing Style guidelines. Your list of references must give full details of all journal articles, books, etc. that you cite in the main body of your report (properly formatted and in the correct order).
  • Problems with clarity, grammar, and/or spelling.
  • Exceeding the word limit for each part of the Module Project.
    • Using non-academic references or references with questionable academic in- tegrity.
    • Plagiarism—collaborating in analysing the data or writing the report, or copy- ing other students’ work. You are expected to work independently.


Several questionnaires and rating scales have been developed to measure the five personality factors identified by Costa and McCrae (1992). Costa and McCrae’s questionnaires are expensive to buy and use, and so many researchers use Gold- berg’s International Personality Item Pool (IPIP) scales, which are free. You can find a link in the Learning Resources (IPIP, 2014).

The Big Five Personality Factor theory will be presented in Week 3 of this module. You should develop an understanding of the theory behind these questionnaires.

Week 4 introduces you to the use of the factor analysis and a set of simulated data. For the purpose of writing up the Final Project, assume you conducted a hypothetical study in which you performed the following steps. These steps will form part of your method section

  • You developed a 25-item questionnaire to measure the Big Five personality factors in Inuit children in northern Canada. These children speak the Inuktitut language.
    • You took five items from each of the five IPIP scales that measure the Big Five personality factors, adapting them where necessary so that they would be relevant to the lives and cognitive abilities of 9-year-old to 12-year-old Inuit children and translating them into the Inuktitut language.
    • Each item was answered using a five-point Likert scale: 1 = “strongly disa- gree,” 2 = “disagree,” 3 = “neutral,” 4 = “agree,” and 5 = “strongly agree.”
    • Some of the items were reverse-scored. For example, the Neuroticism scale contains items such as “I am relaxed most of the time” and “I often feel blue.” People who are very low in Neuroticism would strongly agree with the first of these items (scoring 5) and strongly disagree with the second one (scoring 1); the opposite is true for people who are highly neurotic. The first item is said to be “reverse-scored” because a high score on the item (5, corresponding to “strongly agree”) corresponds to a LOW level of the trait. The second item is not reverse-scored, as a high score (5 for strongly agreeing that they often feel blue) corresponds to a HIGH score on the trait. Reverse-scored items will show negative factor loadings when factor-analysed.
    • You mixed up the order of the items so that participants do not see five “Neu- roticism” items followed by five “Extraversion” items etc. Each participant in your experiment was given the same questionnaire. Because you based your items on the IPIP scales, you expected that the items would form factors as shown in the table below:


Corresponding Questionnaire Items


4, 6, 14, 20, 25


5, 8, 11, 15, 24


3, 9, 10, 21, 23


1, 7, 12, 16, 18


2, 13, 17, 19, 22

  • You gathered some data from a sample of Inuit children aged between 9 and 12 years to test this. You will perform a factor analysis to determine whether the 25 items measure the five factors you expect.

Week 3 Deliverable: Part 1-Introduction

Write an Introduction to the report. This will involve you locating and reading papers from journals about the five-factor model (Costa & McCrae, 1992) and IPIP and about cross-cultural research and the procedures for adapting questionnaires for use in other cultures. You must make an evidence-based case for why you chose to de- velop a questionnaire based on the Big Five personality factors and why you derive such a measure from the IPIP and end up by hypothesising what you should find if your questionnaire works in the Inuit culture. Your Introduction should be a maximum of 1,000 words. Do not use websites as sources: You cannot be sure about the qual- ity of research or scholarship. Locate and read papers from scientific journals, in- stead. You can find several such papers and/or journals from online repositories such as Web of Science, PsychInfo, and Science Direct.

Week 6 Deliverable: Part 2-Performing the Factor Analysis, Methodology, and Results

This deliverable will be started in Week 4 and finally submitted in Week 6. What fol- lows is based on Chapters 16 and 17 of Individual Differences and Personality. You should also review the other learning resources assigned in Week 4. You should read those chapters early to gain an early understanding of performing factor anal- yses. The details of the factor analysis deliverable are as follows:

Running the Factor Analysis in SPSS

You will be given an SPSS data file to analyse located in the Learning Re- sources for Week 4. This holds the responses that the Inuit children gave to each item in your personality test.

Step 1: Determine How Many Factors Are Present

Use SPSS to perform a principal components analysis. Do not rotate the fac- tors just yet. Find the list of eigenvalues, and use these to perform a scree test, as described in your textbook. You might also want to perform the Kai- ser-Guttman test for the number of factors, though, as you know, this is un- likely to be accurate.

To perform parallel analysis, visit the O’Connor (n.d.) source in the Week 4 Learning Resources and enter the number of items (25) and the number of people to whom they were given (1,007). Keep the type of analysis set to 1, and choose at least 100 random matrices; 500 is probably better. The percen- tile figure determines how much higher than the mean an eigenvalue has to be for it to be considered genuine. Leave it at 95. The seed can be any posi- tive number you like. It just determines which sequence of random numbers is used. Finally click on “submit query” to run the analysis.

Step 2: Perform a Factor Analysis with Oblique Rotation

Now that you know how many factors are in your data, use SPSS to perform a factor analysis (not principal components analysis) and rotate the factors us- ing direct oblimin.

You should assemble your findings into a Results section. For more infor- mation on report writing, see the “Report Writing Guide” in the resources sec- tion. As well as text, your report might also contain relevant tables, graphs, and so on. Please ensure that any such items are properly labelled. Do not copy and paste your SPSS output into this section. You need to think about what is necessary and what is not and also about how best to present your re- sults for maximum clarity. Remember not to duplicate information in tables and the supporting text.

Note: It is advised that you start as early as possible. If you wish to begin early on the factor analysis portion of Part 2 of the Module Project, the associated Learning Resources are found in the Class Navigator-Week 4, under the Learning Resources area.

There will be a live workshop on using factor analysis in this module during Weeks 4–6. Your Instructor will notify you of exact date and time and how access infor- mation. The session will be recorded and made available by the Instructor for play- back for those who cannot attend.

Part 2 of the Module Project is comprised of the Methodology and Results. The Methodology section should be a minimum of 500 words with the Results and Meth- odology combined being a maximum of 1500 words collectively.

Week 8 Deliverable: Discussion

In week 8, you will submit your Discussion section. The Discussion section should be a maximum of 2,000 words. In this section, you must highlight the main conclusions that you draw from the Results, relate what you found to the previous literature, com- ment on the adequacy (or otherwise) of your study, and eventually come to some conclusions about what your study shows together with suggestions for further work.

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