Factor Analysis

Anti-Death Penalty Belief System

Factor analysis is an advanced statistical technique for grouping or "clustering" opinions, based on how people replied to questions about their opinions. The left column shows 15 opinions that people in the Death Penalty Study either agreed or disagreed with. The column labeled 'Death Penalty Unfair' reflects a cluster of anti-death penalty opinions that make up this belief system. People who agree with any one of these 4 opinions (blue background) are also likely to agree with the other 3. The right column reflects a belief system that the death penalty is immoral. Persons who agree with any 1 of the opinions (green background) are likely to agree with the other 3.


The numbers in the column are called factor coefficients. These numbers range from .00 to .99. They can be positive or negative. Note that 3 of the 4 opinions that view the death penalty as unfair also have factor loadings greater than .20 with the immoral belief system. Also, 3 of the 4 opinions that regard the death penalty as immoral also have factor loadings greater than .20 with the unfair belief system. This means that people who agree that the death penalty is unfair also tend to agree that it's immoral.


The number at the bottom of the column is Cronbach's reliability coefficient. This number ranges from .00 (very unreliable) to 1.00 (perfectly reliable). The .85 for the unfair and immoral indices indicates that these items are generally reliable measures of pro-death penalty beliefs. For more technical information about factor analysis conducted in the study, click here.


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