Direct Schmid–Leiman Transformations and Rank-Deficient Loadings Matrices

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23 Scopus citations


The Schmid–Leiman (S–L; Psychometrika 22: 53–61, 1957) transformation is a popular method for conducting exploratory bifactor analysis that has been used in hundreds of studies of individual differences variables. To perform a two-level S–L transformation, it is generally believed that two separate factor analyses are required: a first-level analysis in which k obliquely rotated factors are extracted from an observed-variable correlation matrix, and a second-level analysis in which a general factor is extracted from the correlations of the first-level factors. In this article, I demonstrate that the S–L loadings matrix is necessarily rank deficient. I then show how this feature of the S–L transformation can be used to obtain a direct S–L solution from an unrotated first-level factor structure. Next, I reanalyze two examples from Mansolf and Reise (Multivar Behav Res 51: 698–717, 2016) to illustrate the utility of ‘best-fitting’ S–L rotations when gauging the ability of hierarchical factor models to recover known bifactor structures. Finally, I show how to compute direct bifactor solutions for non-hierarchical bifactor structures. An online supplement includes R code to reproduce all of the analyses that are reported in the article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)858-870
Number of pages13
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Schmid Leiman
  • bifactor
  • hierarchical factor analysis

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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