After ten years, an international project on ‘generalized factor analysis’ has finally yielded its first results. Based on measurements on 2500 variables in 4 million subjects, the largest factor analysis ever was completed. The calculations, which took two weeks to run, have yielded some surprising results. According to the project leader, Hans Birgman, reality consists of ‘approximately three factors, of which one is really big and important’.
The first factor, dubbed ‘The X-factor’ by researchers, accounted for 62% of the variability in all the variables they measured. ‘It’s a monster, that’s for sure! Just look at that eigenvalue!’ said one of the researchers. Among the variables loading highly on the X-factor are ‘favorite weathertype’, ‘political preference’, ‘mood’, ‘metabolic efficiency’, ‘opinions concerning gravity’ and ‘toilet-roll orientation preference’. Follow up studies have shown that the X-factor is heritable, is associated with increased activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and correlates approximately .23 with all known psychological constructs.