Why the items versus parcels controversy needn't be one

Todd D. Little, Mijke Rhemtulla, Kimberly Gibson, Alexander M. Schoemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

908 Scopus citations


The use of item parcels has been a matter of debate since the earliest use of factor analysis and structural equation modeling. Here, we review the arguments that have been levied both for and against the use of parcels and discuss the relevance of these arguments in light of the building body of empirical evidence investigating their performance. We discuss the many advantages of parcels that some researchers find attractive and highlight, too, the potential problems that ill-informed use can incur. We argue that no absolute pro or con stance is warranted. Parcels are an analytic tool like any other. There are circumstances in which parceling is useful and those when it is not. We emphasize the precautions that should be taken when creating item parcels and interpreting model results based on parcels. Finally, we review and compare several proposed strategies for parcel building and suggest directions for further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-300
Number of pages16
JournalPsychological Methods
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • CFA
  • Items
  • Parcels
  • SEM
  • Scales


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