Structural Equation Modeling: Strengths, Limitations, and Misconceptions

Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37203, USA.
Annual Review of Clinical Psychology (Impact Factor: 12.67). 02/2005; 1(1):31-65. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.1.102803.144239
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Because structural equation modeling (SEM) has become a very popular data-analytic technique, it is important for clinical scientists to have a balanced perception of its strengths and limitations. We review several strengths of SEM, with a particular focus on recent innovations (e.g., latent growth modeling, multilevel SEM models, and approaches for dealing with missing data and with violations of normality assumptions) that underscore how SEM has become a broad data-analytic framework with flexible and unique capabilities. We also consider several limitations of SEM and some misconceptions that it tends to elicit. Major themes emphasized are the problem of omitted variables, the importance of lower-order model components, potential limitations of models judged to be well fitting, the inaccuracy of some commonly used rules of thumb, and the importance of study design. Throughout, we offer recommendations for the conduct of SEM analyses and the reporting of results.

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    ABSTRACT: Critics of emerging adulthood theory have suggested that it only applies to college students, but this assertion has largely gone untested. The purpose of the present study was to compare developmental trajectories of non-students versus college-educated youth in theoretically relevant domains of work, love, and financial independence. Using data from the Youth Development Study (N = 1139, 49.6 % female, 63.3 % White, 10.9 % Southeast Asian, 1.5 % Other Asian, 8.6 % Black, 5.3 % Mixed Race, 4.0 % Latino, 0.8 % Native American), latent growth curve models were fitted to chart each group's development, from ages 14 to 30. Different trajectories were revealed for hours worked, children, and financial dependence on parents, spouses, and government aid. No differences were found in employment rates, marriage rates, or financial dependence on own income. These results provide a clearer picture of emerging adulthood for non-students, and highlight problems with generalizing college student research to all emerging adults.
    Journal of Youth and Adolescence 07/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10964-015-0330-0 · 2.72 Impact Factor
    • "were not significant. SEM is an advantageous analytical approach because it allows the simultaneous test of multiple mediators and more complex mediating chains (as we intended to test in our study) and also provides global model fit indices useful to estimate the general accuracy of comprehensive models (Tomarken & Waller, 2005). Nevertheless, to further check the robustness of our analyses, we used a resampling procedure and individually tested hypotheses 2 and 3 using bootstrapping as recommended by Preacher and Hayes (2004). "
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    ABSTRACT: Using a cross-lagged design, the present study tests an integrative model of emergent collective emotions in learning groups. Our results indicate that the percentage of women in the group fosters the emergence of collective emotional intelligence, which in turn stimulates social integration within groups (increases group cohesion and reduces relationship conflict) and the associated affective similarity, with beneficial effects for group effectiveness.
    British Journal of Psychology 04/2015; 106(2):217–234. DOI:10.1111/bjop.12075 · 2.37 Impact Factor
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    • "This technique allows us to test models overall while using multiple dependent variables to examine mediating effects versus examining the individual coefficients in individual regression models. Strengths of the modeling procedure include the broad data-analytic framework allowing our multi-outcome model to be tested (Tomarken & Waller, 2005). Limitations to the procedure include increased model complexity and potential biased between-group parameter estimates when the sample size is small (b50) which is not an issue in the present study. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background. Fresh fruit and vegetables are important components of a healthy diet. Distance to a supermarket has been associated with the ability to access fresh produce. Methods. A randomly sampled telephone survey was conducted with the main shopper for 3000 households in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2011. Individuals were asked where and how often they shopped for groceries, frequency of consumption of a variety of foods, and whether they had access to a car. Bivariate models assessed the relationship between four outcomes: car access, distance to the store patronized by the respondent, number of monthly shopping trips, and daily servings of produce. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to distinguish direct and indirect effects. Results. In bivariate models, car access was positively associated with number of shopping trips and produce consumption while distance was inversely associated with shopping trips. In SEM models, produce consumption was not associated with car access or distance, but to the number of monthly shopping trips. Conclusion. The frequency of shopping is associated with car access but a further distance deters it. Access to stores closer to the shopper may promote more frequent shopping and consumption of produce.
    01/2015; 2:47-52. DOI:10.1016/j.pmedr.2014.12.009
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