EMPKC {EFA.dimensions}R Documentation

The empirical Kaiser criterion method


A test for the number of common factors using the Empirical Kaiser Criterion method (Braeken & van Assen, 2017).


EMPKC(data, corkind='pearson', Ncases=NULL, verbose=TRUE)



An all-numeric dataframe where the rows are cases & the columns are the variables, or a correlation matrix with ones on the diagonal. The function internally determines whether the data are a correlation matrix.


The kind of correlation matrix to be used if data is not a correlation matrix. The options are 'pearson', 'kendall', 'spearman', 'gamma', and 'polychoric'. Required only if the entered data is not a correlation matrix.


The number of cases. Required only if data is a correlation matrix.


Should detailed results be displayed in console? TRUE (default) or FALSE


The code for this function was adapted from the code provided by Auerswald & Moshagen (2019).

From Braeken & van Assen (2017):

"We developed a new factor retention method, the Empirical Kaiser Criterion, which is directly linked to statistical theory on eigenvalues and to researchers' goals to obtain reliable scales. EKC is easily visualized, and easy to compute and apply (no specialized software or simulations are needed). EKC can be seen as a sample-variant of the original Kaiser criterion (which is only effective at the population level), yet with a built-in empirical correction factor that is a function of the variables-to-sample-size ratio and the prior observed eigenvalues in the series. The links with statistical theory and practically relevant scales allowed us to derive conditions under which EKC accurately retrieves the number of acceptable scales, that is, sufficiently reliable scales and strong enough items.

"Our simulations verified our derivations, and showed that (a) EKC performs about as well as parallel analysis for data arising from the null, 1-factor, or orthogonal factors model; and (b) clearly outperforms parallel analysis for the specific case of oblique factors, particularly whenever interfactor correlation is moderate to high and the number of variables per factor is small, which is characteristic of many applications these days. Moreover, additional simulations suggest that our method for predicting conditions of accurate factor retention also work for the more computer- intensive methods ... The ease-of-use and effectiveness of EKC make this method a prime candidate for replacing parallel analysis, and the original Kaiser criterion that, although it empirically does not perform too well, is still the number one method taught in introductory multivariate statistics courses and the default in many commercial software packages. Furthermore, the link to statistical theory opens up possibilities for generic power curves and sample size planning for exploratory factor analysis studies.

"Generally, the EKC accurately retrieved the number of factors in conditions whenever it was predicted to work well, and its performance was worse when it was not predicted to work well. More precisely, hit rate or power exceeded .8 in accordance with predictions under the null model, 1-factor model, the orthogonal factor model, and the oblique factor model with more than three variables per scale. Only in the case of minimal scales, that is, with three items per scale, did EKC sometimes not accurately retrieve the number of factors as predicted; dropping the restriction that eigenvalues should exceed 1 then mended EKC's performance. A general guideline for application that can be derived from our results (and would not need a study-specific power study), is that EKC will accurately retrieve the number of factors in samples of at least 100 persons, when there is no factor, one practically relevant scale, or up to five practically relevant uncorrelated scales with a reliability of at least .8." (pp. 463-464)

From Auerswald & Moshagen (2019):

"The Empirical Kaiser Criterion (EKC; Braeken & van Assen, 2017) is an approach that incorporates random sample variations of the eigenvalues in Kaiser's criterion. On a population level, the criterion is equivalent to Kaiser's criterion and extracts all factors with associated eigenvalues of the correlation matrix greater than one. However, on a sample level, the criterion takes the distribution of eigenvalues for normally distributed data into account." (p. 474)


The number of factors according to the EMPKC test.


Brian P. O'Connor


Auerswald, M., & Moshagen, M. (2019). How to determine the number of factors to retain in exploratory factor analysis: A comparison of extraction methods under realistic conditions. Psychological Methods, 24(4), 468-491.

Braeken, J., & van Assen, M. A. (2017). An empirical Kaiser criterion. Psychological Methods, 22, 450 - 466.


# the Harman (1967) correlation matrix
EMPKC(data_Harman, Ncases = 305)

# Rosenberg Self-Esteem scale items, using polychoric correlations
EMPKC(data_RSE, corkind='polychoric')

# NEO-PI-R scales

[Package EFA.dimensions version Index]