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MODELLING

Philip Hyland

philipehyland@gmail.com

University of Ulster

Lecture Outline

Describe the nature of bifactor modelling

Describe issues that arise in conceptualizing and

modelling multidimensionality,

Outline confirmatory bifactor modelling,

Differentiate between bifactor and second-order models,

and

Describe strengths and limitations associated with bifactor

modelling.

DIMENSIONALITY

Many psychological measures are constructed to

capture a single latent variable of interest (e.g.

depression, anxiety, self-esteem).

Factor analytic studies often reveal evidence of both

a general factor and multidimensionality.

When subjected to CFA, a scale almost always

displays a multidimensional structure.

DIMENSIONALITY

Unsurprising given the challenges inherent in writing

a set of scale items that attempt to;

1. Measure a single latent variable of interest but are not

entirely redundant (i.e., the same question asked over

and over),

2. Are heterogeneous enough to validly represent the

diverse manifestations of the construct, and

3. Provide acceptable reliability.

DIMENSIONALITY

Need to create a heterogeneous set of

items to appropriately capture the entire

breath of a given construct (e.g.

psychological and psychological

components of anxiety).

Puts researchers in a difficult position:

Measure one thing while simultaneously

measuring diverse aspects of this same

thing.

DIMENSIONALITY

Not surprising to find conflicting

evidence of unidemsionality and

multidimensionality for certain

psychological measures.

Leads to debates - measuring a single

construct or a variety of distinct, yet

related, constructs?

Bifactor modelling in its simplest form

offers an appealing solution to these

kinds of problems.

UNIDIMENSIONAL MODEL

Underlying structure of a measure are usually

assessed according to three general forms.

1. The unidemsional model

Each item is influenced by a single common factor

and a uniqueness term that reflects both systematic

and random error components.

UNIDIMENSIONAL MODEL

UNIDIMENSIONAL MODEL

Often the hoped for structure.

Summed scores on the individual indicators provide a

clear indication of individual differences on the latent

variable of interest (e.g. depression, self-esteem etc.).

Variation in each item on the scale is determined by

levels of the general latent variable of interest.

UNIDIMENSIONAL MODEL

Even when scales are constructed to

capture a single psychological

construct unidimensional solutions

are rarely identified.

Necessary then to find alternative

multidimensional model structures.

The second type of structural model

is the correlated traits model.

CORRELATED TRAITS

MODEL

CORRELATED TRAITS

MODEL

Latent variable of interest is separated into its component parts.

Components usually considered to be related to varying

degrees.

No attempt to measure a single common construct (e.g. PTSD)

rather the various components of PTSD are being measured.

Multiple latent variables are correlated - no attempt made to

place a measurement structure on the correlated latent factors.

The third type of structural model normally considered

is a higher order model

Includes a single common source of variation unlike correlated

traits model

Correlations between the first order factors are explained in terms

of a higher order factor

Latent variable of interest is being modelled but at a more

abstract or distal level then in the unidimensional model.

No direct relationship between the latent variable of interest

(PTSD) and each of the indicators of PTSD.

traits.

BIFACTOR MODEL

An alternative model conceptualisation exists but is rarely

applied in the personality and psychopathology domains. This

type of model is the bifactor model.

BIFACTOR MODEL

Variation among individual indicators is assumed to arise

for a number of sources.

In a simple form - all indicators are modelled to load onto

a single common latent factor the latent variable of

interest (PTSD).

But, item covariation can also arise due to what are called

group factors or in some models nuisance factors.

BIFACTOR MODEL

Bifactor models include two or more uncorrelated (orthogonal)

group/nuisance factors.

Each indicator is allowed to load onto two distinct latent

variables: A general factor (e.g. PTSD) and one (and only one!)

group/nuisance factor (e.g. Intrusions).

Covariation is caused by a group of items tapping similar

aspects of the trait (e.g. items measuring symptoms of

Hyperarousal).

FACTOR ANALYSIS

Appearances of multidimensionality can be the

result of heterogeneous item content

A given set of indicator are primarily attempting

to measure the latent variable of interest but they

are also purposefully measuring another factor

(this is termed a grouping factor), or

A given set of indicators are primarily attempting

to measure the latent variable of interest but they

inadvertently measuring another factor (this is

termed a nuisance factor),

BIFACTOR OR HIGHER

ORDER

Bifactor model allows researchers to retain the idea of a

single common construct (PTSD) while also recognising

multidimensionality (Intrusions etc.)

A useful alternative to the traditionally employed higher

order model.

In many ways the bifactor model and the higher-order

model are very similar but there are a few important

differences that are worth recognising.

BIFACTOR OR HIGHER

ORDER

Higher-order models are frequently used - bifactor models are

not.

Major difference lies in how multidimensionality is conceptualised.

In correlated traits models assumption that the observed item

covariation is the result of two or more correlated primary factors.

Higher order model - latent variable of interest (PTSD) is

determined by what a set of primary latent variables have in

common not what observable indicators have in common.

BIFACTOR MODEL

Bifactor models - latent variable(s) of interest explains

some proportion of covariation among observable

indicators

Other group/nuisance factors explain additional

covariation among observable indicators.

The latent variable of interest and group/nuisance factors

are therefore on equal conceptual footing and compete for

explaining item covarianceneither factor higher or

lower than the other.

BIFACTOR MODEL

In contrast to the higher-order model conceptualisation, in

a bifactor model conceptualisation the latent variable(s) of

interest is measured by what is common among the

observable indicators.

This means that variations in the intensity of the specific

latent variable of interest will directly influence levels of the

observable indicators rather than indirectly, as in the case

with the higher-order model.

APPLICATIONS

A bifactor modelling approach can be used to address

important issues that routinely arise in psychometric

analysis of personality and psychopathology measures.

Bifactor modelling is useful for:

1. Evaluating the plausibility of subscales,

2. Determining the degree to which sum scores reflect a

single factor, and

3. Evaluating the feasibility of applying a unidimensional

model structure to a measure with heterogeneous

indicators.

SUBSCALES

Researchers often argue about the usefulness of creating

subscales.

In many cases where a single general factor is broken

down into subscales these traits are highly correlated multicollinearity becomes a problem.

Our ability to determine the unique contribution of each of

the subscales in predicting some important outcome is

severely compromised.

SUBSCALES

A second reason often advanced for creating subscales is

that the subscales may have differential correlations with

external variables.

Technically true but weak justification for cutting up a

measure.

Any two items not perfectly correlated potentially have

different correlations with external variables.

However it makes little sense to argue that one should

investigate external correlates for each item separately.

SUBSCALES

A third and very seldom recognised problem with creating

subscales emerges from a bifactor modelling perspective.

Subscale scores reflect variation on both a general factor

and a more specific group/nuisance factor.

The effect of this is that the subscale may appear to be

reliable, but in fact, that reliability is a function of the

general trait, not the specific group factor.

SUBSCALES

Finally, it has also been noted that subscales are often so

unreliable compared to the composite score that the

composite score is actually a better predictor of an

individuals true score on a subscale than is the subscale

score itself.

Sinharay and Puhan (2007) have therefore argued that

subscale scores are seldom, if ever, empirically justified.

How can bifactor models help?

SUBSCALES

Provides a method for determining the usefulness of creating

subscales.

Because the general and group/nuisance factors are

uncorrelated in a bifactor model, inspection of the factor

loadings on the general and group/nuisance factors is

informative.

If factor loadings are high on the general factor and low on the

group/nuisance factors - makes little sense to create subscales.

If factor loadings are high for both the general factor and the

group/nuisance factors - subscale creation should be

considered.

APPLICATIONS

Reise, Moore, and Haviland (2010) - main problem in

traditional psychometric evaluation of scales is that the

wrong default model is used.

A unidimensional model is normally used as the default

model and is also frequently a researchers ideal solution.

Yet, item response data drawn from complex measures

are rarely, if ever, strictly unidimensional.

APPLICATIONS

In a way its also not desirable to achieve such a solution

To achieve unidimensionality one essentially has to write a set

of items with very narrow conceptual bandwidth (i.e., the same

item written over and over in slightly different ways)

Results in poor predictive power or theoretical usefulness.

Reise et al. (2010) argue that a bifactor model, which contains

a single common trait but also allows for multidimensionality

due to item content diversity, provides a better foundational

model for conceptualizing dimensionality.

STRENGTHS

Ability to maintain a unidimensional conceptualisation while

also recognising issues of multidimensionality.

What else?

So far we have focused on the role on grouping factors.

Factors that are present within a scale that arise from

intentionally attempting to capture complexities of a particular

psychological construct (e.g. the cognitive-affective and

somatic-performance components of depression).

But, what about nuisance factors?

STRENGTHS

Factors that are present within a scale which arise

unintentionally when attempting to capture the primary latent

variable(s) of interest.

When unwanted nuisance factors are present within a scale the

fit of a theoretically derived model may be affected.

Bifactor models allow researchers to model (control for) these

unwanted nuisance factors

Allows for a clearer assessment of the adequacy of theoretically

derived models.

LIMITATIONS

The general and group/nuisance factor must be specified to be

uncorrelated.

What does it mean to propose the existence of a group factor such

as Intrusions that partially reflect PTSD but which also has a

specific component that is independent of PTSD?

Many researchers are therefore sceptical that the model itself

makes any sense.

Highly restrictive assumptions which need to satisfied in order that

group/nuisance factors will be identified.

Data must be multidimensional but also that the

multidimensionality be well structured - each item measures a

general factor and one, and only one, group/nuisance factor.

CONCLUSION

Many psychological scales are constructed to measure a single

latent variable of interest (e.g. depression, self-esteem).

However due to item heterogeneity necessary to capture the

subtleties and complexities of a psych construct scales

invariably display signs of multidimensionality.

Correlated trait models and higher-order models are

traditionally applied in order to model the underlying structure of

such scales.

CONCLUSION

Bifactor models provide a plausible and useful alternative to

traditionally employed higher-order model in order to maintain a

unidimensional structure consistent with the theoretical

foundation upon which the measure was constructed while also

taking into account important item grouping factors.

Bifactor modelling also allows researchers to model (control for)

unwanted/unintended/meaningless nuisance factors which are

preventing theoretically plausible models from achieving

appropriate model fit.

A number of important strengths and limitations should be

considered when deciding whether or not to conduct a bifactor

analysis.

CONFIRMATORY BIFACTOR

MODELLING

HOW TO CARRY OUT IN

Mplus

EXAMPLE

We will be further examining the factor structure of the Measure

of Criminal Social Identity (Boduszek et al., 2012).

8 Items designed to measure Criminal Social Identity Includes

three grouping factors.

1. Cognitive Centrality

2. In-Group Affect

3. In Group Ties

MPLUS

Unlike SPSS, Mplus does not allow you to use drop-down commands

to estimate the model - you must write the syntax yourself (dont

panic!).

It is a good idea to create a shorter data set yourself for your specific

analysis in Mplus.

MPLUS

Mplus cannot directly read an SPSS file.

Mplus can easily read Tab delimited data, so we can save our

dataset as a .dat file. This can be done by choosing File, Save

as.

Be sure to untick the box Write Variable Names to

Spreadsheet

We will save the variable names quickly from SPSS by copying

them from the Variable View window and pasting them into a

new text editor or directly into an Mplus input file.

Ready to open a new Mplus window and start writing syntax.

MPLUS

First we have to provide a TITLE for our analysis (Criminal

Social Identity Bifactor Model)

To read our DATA we indicate the location of the .dat file we

saved.

Under the VARIABLE heading after names are you paste in

your variable names from your SPSS data set.

In the next line, we indicate which values should be considered

missing in each variable. In our example missing are all (-9).

MPLUS

In USEVAR enter those variables which are to be used for the

current analysis.

The CATEGORICAL option is used to specify which variables

are treated as binary or ordered categorical (ordinal) variables

in the model and its estimation.

Under the ANALYSIS heading we must indicate what

ESTIMATOR we will be using.

MPLUS

Because our observed variables are measured on 5-point

Likert scale we will use Robust Maximum Likelihood

(MLR) estimation.

If your observed variables are categorical use Estimator =

WLSMV

MPLUS

Because our observed variables are measured on 5-point Likert

scale we will use Robust Maximum Likelihood (MLR) estimation.

If your observed variables are categorical use Estimator =

WLSMV

Under the MODEL command we must specify the bifactor

model

This is the place where you have to create your latent variables

(seven factors in this example four general factors and three

nuisance factors).

In bifactor modelling, like CFA, we use the command by to

create latent variables.

MPLUS

The latent variable CSI is measured by all 8 items CI1C* CI2C

CI3C CI4IA CI5IA CI6IT CI7IT CI8IT

For each latent variable created the first indicator must be

followed by an astrix (*)

This sets the variance of each Latent Variable to be 1 Allows

for model identification and latent variable scaling.

We then must indicate....

CSI@1; C@1; A@1; T@1;

MPLUS

The group factors must all be uncorrelated with the general

factors.

We need to provide Mplus with this command

CSI with C-T@0;

The grouping factors must also be uncorrelated with each other

C with A-T@0; A with T@0;

If you have more than 1 latent variable of interest these are

allowed to correlate.

MPLUS

Once you have created syntax for confirmatory factor analysis

press

to run the model.

Save this as an input file under some name e.g., CSI bifactor

model.inp in the same folder as the criminal identity.dat file.

This produces a text output (.out) file stored in the working

directory with the results.

For this model the output file looks like the following:

The first part of the output provides a summary of the analysis

including:

The number of groups (1)

The number of observations (participants included in the

analysis, N = 303)

The number of items included in the confirmatory model

(number of dependent variables = 8)

The number of latent variables (4).

Furthermore, Mplus gives more info which you do not need to

report except what Estimator was used (in this example it was

MLR= robust maximum likelihood).

The next step is to investigate how well the model fits the data.

This model of CSI was specified and estimated in Mplus as a

restricted bifactor solution.

Before we look at the factor structure we have to assess the fit

between the data and pre-established theoretical model.

Goodness-of-fit indices are used to assess model fit Same as

used in EFA and CFA.

This bifactor model represents a superior fitting model

compared to all other tested models

We are interested in more details about this model.

Mplus output provides lots of information however you are

interested only in few of them.

Unstandardized Factor Loadings and Standard Errors

Standardized Factor Loadings and Significance Levels

Factor Correlations.

UNSTANDARDIZED/S.E.

STANDARDIZED LOADINGS 1

You should inspect the strength of the factor loadings for the

psychological factors relative to the grouping factors.

If strong on grouping factors consider creating subscales.

If weak or weaker than the general factor consider

unidimensionality.

Also you would be interested in the factor correlations for the

psychological factors if 2 or more.

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