ArticlePDF Available

Intelligence and General Psychopathology in the Vietnam Experience Study: A Closer Look

Authors:
  • Ulster Institute for Social Research

Abstract and Figures

Prior research has indicated that one can summarize the variation in psychopathology measures in a single dimension, labeled P by analogy with the g factor of intelligence. Research shows that this P factor has a weak to moderate negative relationship to intelligence. We used data from the Vietnam Experience Study to reexamine the relations between psychopathology assessed with the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) and intelligence (total n = 4,462: 3,654 whites, 525 blacks, 200 Hispanics, and 83 others). We show that the scoring of the P factor affects the strength of the relationship with intelligence. Specifically, item response theory-based scores correlate more strongly with intelligence than sum-scoring or scale-based scores: r’s = -.35, -.31, and -.25, respectively. We furthermore show that the factor loadings from these analyses show moderately strong Jensen patterns such that items and scales with stronger loadings on the P factor also correlate more negatively with intelligence (r = -.51 for 566 items, -.60 for 14 scales). Finally, we show that training an elastic net model on the item data allows one to predict intelligence with extremely high precision, r = .84. We examined whether these predicted values worked as intended with regards to cross-racial predictive validity, and relations to other variables. We mostly find that they work as intended, but seem slightly less valid for blacks and Hispanics (r’s .85, .83, and .81, for whites, Hispanics, and blacks, respectively).
Content may be subject to copyright.
MANKIND QUARTERLY 2021 61:4 792-819
792
Intelligence and General Psychopathology in the Vietnam
Experience Study: A Closer Look
Emil O. W. Kirkegaard*
Ulster Institute for Social Research, London, UK
Helmuth Nyborg
Professor emeritus Aarhus University, Denmark (1968-2007)
* Corresponding author: the.dfx@gmail.com
Prior research has indicated that one can summarize the
variation in psychopathology measures in a single dimension,
labeled P by analogy with the g factor of intelligence. Research
shows that this P factor has a weak to moderate negative
relationship to intelligence. We used data from the Vietnam
Experience Study to reexamine the relations between
psychopathology assessed with the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic
Personality Inventory) and intelligence (total n = 4,462: 3,654 whites,
525 blacks, 200 Hispanics, and 83 others). We show that the scoring
of the P factor affects the strength of the relationship with
intelligence. Specifically, item response theory-based scores
correlate more strongly with intelligence than sum-scoring or scale-
based scores: r’s = -.35, -.31, and -.25, respectively. We furthermore
show that the factor loadings from these analyses show moderately
strong Jensen patterns such that items and scales with stronger
loadings on the P factor also correlate more negatively with
intelligence (r = -.51 for 566 items, -.60 for 14 scales). Finally, we
show that training an elastic net model on the item data allows one
to predict intelligence with extremely high precision, r = .84. We
examined whether these predicted values worked as intended with
regards to cross-racial predictive validity, and relations to other
variables. We mostly find that they work as intended, but seem
slightly less valid for blacks and Hispanics (r’s .85, .83, and .81, for
whites, Hispanics, and blacks, respectively).
KIRKEGAARD, E.O.W. & NYBORG, H. IQ & GENERAL PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
793
Keywords: Vietnam Experience Study, MMPI, General
psychopathology factor, Intelligence, Cognitive ability, Machine
learning, Elastic net, Lasso, Random forest, Crud factor
Since the dawn of scientific psychiatry it has been noted that there are
positive associations (“comorbidity”) between clinical diagnoses of mental
disorders (Caspi et al., 2014; Haltigan, 2019; Pettersson et al., 2013). This
covariation has generally been considered a problem to the typological thinking
or classification of diagnoses (nosology) since it results in unclear boundaries
between disorders that were supposed in many theories to be distinct. To
intelligence researchers, however, this pattern is not surprising as they are used
to thinking of general factors in datasets, as well as generalist (pleiotropic) genes
that cause such patterns (Trzaskowski et al., 2013). Accordingly, and with explicit
analogy to the g factor of intelligence, some researchers have conducted factor
analyses of psychopathology measures such as behavioral ratings or clinical
diagnoses (Laceulle et al., 2015; Martel et al., 2017; Patalay et al., 2015; Tackett
et al., 2013). Given the observed positive correlations among disorders or
symptom indicators (the positive manifold), factor analysis invariably finds a
general factor that ‘accounts for’ part of the observed variation.
1
Recently, this
factor has accordingly been named general psychopathology factor, or P factor
for short, not to be confused with the Psychoticism factor from Eysenck’s
personality model.
2
Research on the P factor has found it to be moderately to highly heritable
based on both pedigree data and DNA (Neumann et al., 2016; Pettersson et al.,
2013, 2016; Rietz et al., 2020). Furthermore, some studies have analyzed
correlations between the P factor and measures of intelligence finding small to
moderate negative correlations. WAIS (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale),
adults: -.19, WISC-R (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children), age 7-11: -.15,
SB (Stanford Binet intelligence test), age 5: -.17 (Caspi et al., 2014); age 6-8: -
.14 (Neumann et al., 2016). However, the nature of these relations has not so far
been explored in detail. Thus, the first goal of the present study was to conduct
such an exploration.
1
Despite the causal-sounding language, this simply means that one can hypothesize or
posit a factor and a vector of factor loadings such that one can reproduce the observed
correlations among the indicators, at least to some degree.
2
In fact, historical discussions and findings of this factor go back many decades (Barron,
1953; Choca et al., 1986; Gourlay, 1980; Pukrop et al., 2001; Walters et al., 2008).
MANKIND QUARTERLY 2021 61:4
794
One prior study based on the same dataset as ours exists (Irwing et al.,
2012). This study, however, used only the MMPI scales to extract a general factor,
even though item data are also available. Furthermore, that study interpreted the
general factor from the scales as reflecting a general factor of personality (‘GFP’),
not the general factor of psychopathology (P factor). Considering the mixed
nature of the MMPI items, it is unclear what this general factor represents exactly.
The MMPI items were not designed to measure a broad trait with measurement
purity (i.e., free of other trait content insofar as possible), as is usually done in
modern scale development (Yarkoni, 2010, 2015). Rather, items were chosen
such as to best discriminate between clinical and general populations, no matter
what the item content was (Cox et al., 2009). Furthermore, a number of studies
using both ‘normal range’ personality data and psychopathology measures have
found that the general factors from these are highly correlated. There is also a
strong relation to trait emotional “intelligence” (Alegre et al., 2019; Musek, 2017;
Oltmanns et al., 2018; Rosenström et al., 2019; Smith et al., 2020), as also
indicated by the large personality gaps between the general population and
psychiatric groups (Kotov et al., 2010). We remain agnostic about the specific
interpretation of these general factors.
In a different strand of research, it has been shown that supervised machine
learning models trained on large item-level datasets are able to predict various
variables of interest (e.g. education, age) much better (sometimes >100%) than
scores generated from ad hoc methods or common factor based models (Cutler
et al., 2019; Mõttus et al., 2017). So far, the research has been conducted using
personality and cognitive ability data, but not psychiatric data, or a set of mixed
personality-interest-psychiatric questions like those in the MMPI. The present
study presented an opportunity to try with such a dataset, i.e., apply machine
learning methods to our item data to examine predictive validity, and this was thus
the second goal.
Data
We used archival data from the Vietnam Experience Study (VES,
https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/veterans/default1c.htm). The VES is a US military
dataset based on a sample of 4,462 enlisted men (3,654 whites, 525 blacks, 200
Hispanics, 49 Amerindian/Native Americans, and 34 Asians). They were inducted
in the military between 1965 and 1971, and a follow-up interview was conducted
in 1985-1986. The purpose of the study was to examine reports of negative health
effects of participation in the Vietnam War, in particular, exposure to chemical
warfare (Centers for Disease Control, 1989). Because of this, the study is a
matched group design with approximately 55% of the sample being Vietnam
KIRKEGAARD, E.O.W. & NYBORG, H. IQ & GENERAL PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
795
veterans, and the remainder being soldiers who were stationed elsewhere, such
as South Korea. The dataset is in the public domain (i.e., it is not copyrighted, or
available only upon request or application) but no complete repository exists for
it. The supplementary materials contain a copy of the dataset that was used in
the present study.
Generally speaking, the measurements were of very high quality. The total
dataset contains thousands of variables derived from objective ability and skill
testing, clinical interviews, self-rated scales, blood analyses, and even some
measures of their spouses and children. The children were measured due to
reports of birth defects following service in Vietnam.
The subjects took a large and diverse battery of cognitive tests, some of
which were taken at the time of induction and others at the follow-up. In total,
there are 19 tests which cover domains such as psychomotor ability (e.g.
drawing), delayed recall, verbal ability, and spatial ability (block design). These
have been described in detail elsewhere (Kirkegaard & Nyborg, 2020), and the
appendix contains a summary of the tests and the factor analysis. As in the other
studies, we computed the g factor from the 19 tests and saved it for further
analysis.
The subjects were administered the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic
Personality Inventory), version 1975, at the follow-up measurement. This was
administered as a group test, where subjects sat in a room and filled out the
answer sheets. The MMPI version used in this study consists of 566 self-reported
items dealing with various aspects of behavior, interests, and personality
(Dahlstrom et al., 1975). Importantly, the latter includes both healthy variation in
personality as well as psychopathologically relevant variation. The appendix
contains the 25 first items of the MMPI-2 from which the reader may form an
impression. While the focus is on psychopathology-related personality, various
researchers have devised scoring methods (simple models) for estimating e.g.
Big Five (OCEAN) traits from the MMPI data (Cortina et al., 1992; Han et al.,
1996). While the MMPI can be scored in many ways, the following scales were
used in this study, shown in Table 1.
Table 1. Scales scored from the MMPI, with loadings on the general
psychopathology (P) factor.
Scale1
Abbreviation
Items
Loading
Hypochondriasis
Hs
32
0.65
Depression
D
57
0.74
Hysteria
Hy
60
0.53
Psychopathic Deviate
Pd
50
0.62
MANKIND QUARTERLY 2021 61:4
796
Scale1
Abbreviation
Items
Loading
Masculinity/Femininity
Mf
56
0.30
Paranoia
Pa
40
0.69
Psychasthenia
Pt
48
0.88
Schizophrenia
Sc
78
0.91
Hypomania
Ma
46
0.31
Social Introversion
Si
69
0.46
Lie (social desirability)
L
15
-0.17
F
F
60
0.80
F (back)
Fb
40
(not used)
K
K
30
-0.35
Ego Strength
Es
52
-0.77
1 Descriptions of some of the scales from Framingham, (2016):
Psychasthenia: “person’s inability to resist specific actions or thoughts, regardless of their
maladaptive nature.
Lie (social desirability): “intended to identify individuals who are deliberately trying to avoid
answering the MMPI honestly and in a frank manner. The scale measures attitudes and
practices that are culturally laudable, but rarely found in most people.
F: “intended to detect unusual or atypical ways of answering the test items, like if a person
were to randomly fill out the test.
F (back): same as F but only based on the last 40 items, a measure of test fatigue,
K: “designed to identify psychopathology in people who otherwise would have profiles
within the normal range.
Note that some items are used in multiple scales (akin to cross-loadings). Loadings from
factor analysis.
Results
We factor analyzed the 14 scales of the MMPI to obtain a single factor, similar
to the prior study (Irwing et al., 2012). All the scales had non-zero loadings,
though not all were in the same direction (mean loadings = .40, range -.77 to .36,
variance accounted for = 39%). The loadings are given in Table 1, above. To test
robustness, we tried all the factor analysis and scoring method choices available
in the psych package (Revelle, 2020).
3
The scores from these correlated near
3
Specifically, the fa() function in psych contains a setting for the factor extraction method
(loading estimation) and the factor scoring method. There are 5 extraction methods and
8 scoring methods, so there are theoretically 40 sets of resulting scores. However,
frequently, some of these methods or their combinations result in errors. In the present
KIRKEGAARD, E.O.W. & NYBORG, H. IQ & GENERAL PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
797
unity (mean r = 1.00) meaning there was negligible method variance. We saved
the scores (P scales) from this analysis for further use.
While there were no missing data for the scales, there were some for the
items (0.2% missing cells). We imputed these with 0’s and computed the sum of
affirmative answers for each person as a simple index of overall psychopathology
(P sum, sumscore).
4
We also used item response theory (IRT) factor analysis
(FA) on the items to produce a better estimate of the underlying trait, using the
2PL model from the mirt package (Chalmers et al., 2020).
5
The difference to the
sumscore is that this approach allows for variation in the factor loadings of items,
including potentially negative loadings (reverse scoring).
6
The three MMPI
scoring methods were then compared to the g scores from above, as shown in
Figure 1.
Figure 1. Pairwise correlations between MMPI-based general psychopathology
(P) scores and intelligence (g) from 19 tests. IRT = item response theory-based,
sum = sumscores, scales = factor analysis of 14 scales.
study, 32 of the 40 combinations produced a result. This method is implemented in the
fa_all_methods() in the kirkegaard package (https://github.com/Deleetdk/kirkegaard/).
4
We also calculated the average score without this imputation. These correlated 1.00
with the imputed version.
5
Item response theory is a theoretical approach to modeling item responses specifically,
not test/scale level. Item data requires other methods to model because the measured
data are not continuous, usually dichotomous for ability data, but may be polytomous
(ordinal). See DeMars (2010) for a brief and easily readable introduction. Item response
theory factor analysis is factor analysis carried out on the estimated item correlations
free from bias from the item format (latent correlations, usually tetrachoric).
6
Formally speaking, sumscores are or can be seen as a factor score too. The sumscore
is identical to a factor model where all items load on the general factor and have
loadings of 1 (McNeish & Wolf, 2020).
MANKIND QUARTERLY 2021 61:4
798
The results show that the three scores’ approaches of the P factor are fairly
strongly related (r’s .52 to .82), but not near-unity as might be expected from this
number of items and scales. Furthermore, the scores from each method were
related to the g factor, but differentially. The scoring method based on IRT
produced the strongest correlation (r = -.35), the sumscore in between (-.31), and
the scale-level factor analysis the weakest (-.25). The scatterplots also show
some level of nonlinearity in the data, in particular between P from scales and
IRT.
Similarly, we can look at the race gaps in MMPI-based P scores (Hall et al.,
1999; Lynn, 2002). Because of the correlation to intelligence, all else equal, we
would expect small to medium sized race gaps in MMPI scores due to the large
race gaps in intelligence. Table 2 shows the results.
Table 2. Racial means in P factor scores and intelligence (g). Scores were
standardized to white mean = 0, sd = 1.
Group
g
P scales
P scales
expected
P sum
P sum
expected
P IRT
P IRT
expected
Black
-1.27
0.24
0.31
0.55
0.39
0.37
0.45
Hispanic
-0.78
0.46
0.19
0.37
0.24
0.37
0.27
White
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
The observed race gaps in P scores were in the expected direction, but not
entirely of the expected size considering the relationship to intelligence. Thus, it
seems that there are other factors at play with regard to P factor gaps than
intelligence. We used regression analysis as an alternative approach to
examining this. The results are shown in Tables 3a, 3b.
Table 3a. Regression models for predicting P scores from MMPI. Standardized
β with standard deviation in parentheses. * p < .01, ** p < .005, *** p < .001. g =
intelligence. Numerical variables are standardized to white mean = 0, sd = 1.
Main effects only
Outcome
Scales
Sum
IRT
Intercept
-0.01 (0.017)
0.00 (0.017)
0.00 (0.016)
g
-0.24*** (0.016)
-0.28*** (0.016)
-0.33*** (0.015)
Black
-0.04 (0.052)
0.20*** (0.052)
-0.05 (0.048)
Hispanic
0.22** (0.077)
0.14 (0.077)
0.07 (0.072)
g * Black
g * Hispanic
R2 adj.
0.062
0.097
0.124
N
4238
4238
4238
KIRKEGAARD, E.O.W. & NYBORG, H. IQ & GENERAL PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
799
Table 3b. Regression models for predicting P scores from MMPI. Standardized
β with standard deviation in parentheses. * p < .01, ** p < .005, *** p < .001. g =
intelligence. Numerical variables are standardized to white mean = 0, sd = 1.
With interactions
Outcome →
Scales
Sum
IRT
Intercept
-0.01 (0.017)
0.00 (0.017)
0.00 (0.016)
g
-0.23*** (0.017)
-0.27*** (0.017)
-0.33*** (0.016)
Black
-0.07 (0.081)
0.15 (0.081)
0.01 (0.076)
Hispanic
0.08 (0.100)
0.12 (0.100)
0.02 (0.094)
g * Black
-0.03 (0.055)
-0.04 (0.055)
0.04 (0.051)
g * Hispanic
-0.19 (0.086)
-0.02 (0.086)
-0.06 (0.080)
R2 adj.
0.063
0.096
0.123
N
4238
4238
4238
The results show that for the scales and sum-based scores there was an
extra effect of race beyond that of g, though in two different models (for Hispanics
for scales-based, and for Blacks with sum-based scores). However, when the IRT
scores were used, race no longer made any difference, and the beta for
intelligence was also the strongest (-.33). The addition of an intelligence * race
interaction term did not alter this result, and the interaction terms did not improve
model fits. Thus, the conclusion is that when IRT-based scores are used, the
population differences in intelligence explain almost perfectly the observed P
factor gaps, at least, insofar as we can see with the statistical precision of this
study.
With regards to the scales and items, one might wonder what the Jensen
pattern looks like (Rushton, 1998). The Jensen pattern is the relationship between
each indicator’s (item or scale) factor loading and its relationship to some variable
of interest, such as the P factor.
7
Figures 2 and 3 show scatterplots of these
relationships.
7
This method is usually called the method of correlated vectors (MCV), as named by
Arthur R. Jensen, who formalized the method based on an idea from Charles Spearman
(Jensen, 1998). However, this name is misleading because mathematically speaking,
any correlation is a correlation of vectors, so the name describes nothing more than the
regular correlation. Furthermore, the idea is more general and can also be used with
multiple regression models and other multivariate methods (Al-Bursan et al., 2018). For
this reason, it is more apt to name it Jensen’s method, in his honor.
MANKIND QUARTERLY 2021 61:4
800
Figure 2. Relationship between each scale’s P factor loading and its correlation
with intelligence. Indicators with negative factor loadings were reversed to avoid
variance inflation (shown by “_r” in the scale names).
Figure 3. Relationship between P factor loading and the IQ gap for each item
(gap between those who answer yes and no). Indicators with negative factor
loadings were reversed. The appendix gives the top 25 most IQ-associated items.
Without reversing, the correlations are -.73 and -.76, for scales and items,
KIRKEGAARD, E.O.W. & NYBORG, H. IQ & GENERAL PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
801
respectively.
The results show moderately strong Jensen patterns such that indicators with
stronger P factor loadings also had stronger, more negative relations to
intelligence. If the underlying P factor is related to intelligence, this pattern is
expected to be close to 1.00 given no sampling error. Thus, given our relatively
large sample size, and resulting small sampling error, the results suggest that
there is some true heterogeneity in the relations. In other words, the relationship
to intelligence is more than just a function of an item’s P loading. This also has
the implication that a supervised model trained on the item data to predict
intelligence could do much better than just extracting the latent trait of the
predictors and estimating the outcome from that.
8
To test out this idea, we trained
an elastic net model on the MMPI items to predict intelligence.
9
We used standard
10 fold cross-validation using the tidymodels meta-package to accomplish this
(https://www.tidymodels.org/, Kuhn et al., 2020). The resulting out-of-sample
predictions for the best choice of hyperparameters are shown in Figure 4.
10
The resulting model accuracy was surprisingly high, r = .84, more than double
that of the IRT-based score (r = -.35, direction is irrelevant here). In fact, the
8
In fact, the latent trait model will only do best when the Jensen pattern has a true
correlation of or close to 1.00. Empirically, such correlations exist, but rarely reach 1.00
even with statistical corrections for downwards biases, and this means there is some
room for the supervised model to do better. Put another way, predictions based on
latent traits are making a strong assumption: the variance shared among the indicators
is exactly the same variance that is responsible for the predictive validity. This
assumption seems to be largely correct, though not entirely so (Kirkegaard, 2018).
9
Elastic net is a linear regression model with two hyperparameters. The first is the
penalty, which shrinks all regression weights (betas) towards 0 with the aim of reducing
overfitting. The second is the mixture, which controls the behavior of the shrinking
towards 0. When mixture is closer to 1, the betas tend to become exactly 0, and the
model is thus relatively sparser (only some predictors are used in the model). When
the mixture is set to 1, the model is called the lasso, and when it is 0, it is called ridge
regression. The values of the hyperparameters are usually tuned by cross-validation
(James et al., 2013).
10
We used the default settings of tidymodels which is to perform random search for the
optimal hyperparameters and choose the optimal values from the same cross-
validation. This approach causes a small amount of overfitting, but the amount was
negligible in the present study (the standard errors of the cross-validated model
validities were very small, approximately 0.006).
MANKIND QUARTERLY 2021 61:4
802
predictive accuracy is so high that using this prediction would be superior to using
any single test of intelligence, especially an abbreviated test.
11
Figure 4. Out of sample predictions for intelligence from MMPI items based on
the elastic net model, r = .84. Blue line is a LOESS smoothing fit for visual aid.
To further examine predictive accuracy, we trained a lasso model to see if a
relatively sparse model could be obtained. The validity of the lasso model,
however, was essentially identical to the elastic net one, and the optimal lasso fit
was not very sparse (363 out of 556 items used).
12
Figure 5 shows the relationship
between model accuracy and model hyper-parameters for the elastic net.
11
Of the 19 tests used to extract g in this study, only the AFQT composite given at
induction correlated at the same level with the g factor (.83, without including itself) as
the MMPI based prediction. Thus, this level of model accuracy is roughly equivalent
using the AFQT battery to measure intelligence (a battery of 4 tests). For single tests,
the ACB verbal test had a correlation of .80 with the g factor (not including itself).
12
The similarity of the results is not surprising considering that the lasso is a special case
of the elastic net, as noted in a prior footnote.
KIRKEGAARD, E.O.W. & NYBORG, H. IQ & GENERAL PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
803
Figure 5. Elastic net hyperparameters and model R2 in cross-validation.
Smoothing done by LOESS.
We see that accuracy is highest when some penalization is present and
mixture is low (towards ridge regression, i.e., non-sparse). We also fit a random
forest model, but this had slightly inferior performance to the elastic net and lasso
models (out of sample r = .78).
To examine to which degree the model could be abbreviated without loss of
accuracy, i.e., based on fewer items, we calculated the cross-validated
correlations for different numbers of items, shown in Figure 6.
Figure 6. Model accuracy by number of MMPI items included in the model (cross-
validated).
MANKIND QUARTERLY 2021 61:4
804
It is seen that about 90 items are needed to reach a correlation accuracy of
.80, whereas only 3 items are needed to reach .50. This may be surprising, but
some items have absolute correlations to g of around .40, so it is unsurprising
that combining three of them yields a model accuracy at .50. To see whether the
predicted g scores were biased with regards to demographics or variables of
interest, we correlated the original g scores and the MMPI-based predicted values
with various known correlates of intelligence, shown in Table 4.
By comparing the two columns with g and predicted g, we see that the values
are very similar. The predicted g values based on MMPI data behave close to
exactly as the real g values (correlation between the columns r = 1.00).
13
This is
reassuring as it shows the model isn’t introducing construct irrelevant variance
into the predictions. In fact, the correlation sizes are not different either,
suggesting that the remaining variance in the g scores is not predictive of
outcomes.
Table 4. Correlations between measured intelligence (g), MMPI-based predicted
intelligence, and various outcomes; predicted g = final predictions from elastic net
model (not out of sample).
Measured
g
Predicted
g
Educ.
Income
Unempl.
Height
BMI
predicted g
0.86
Education
0.55
0.53
Income
0.40
0.40
0.35
Unemployed
-0.22
-0.23
-0.15
-0.48
Height
0.14
0.14
0.09
0.09
-0.03
BMI
-0.05
-0.05
-0.02
0.02
-0.02
-0.01
Age
0.08
0.09
0.16
0.18
-0.11
0.01
0.06
With regards to demographic bias, we tested whether the predicted g values
worked differently across races. To do this, we fit regression models with the real
g scores as the outcome, and the predicted g scores as the predictor along with
race. Results are shown in Table 5.
13
Similarly, one might ask whether the correlations to the tests used to extract intelligence
are similar to their loadings on the g factor. The answer is yes, the relationship is nearly
perfect, r = .97.
KIRKEGAARD, E.O.W. & NYBORG, H. IQ & GENERAL PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
805
Table 5. Regression models comparing the predictive validity of the predicted g
scores. Predicted variable is measured g. * p < .01, ** p < .005, *** p < .001.
Standard errors in parentheses.
Predictor/Model
1
2
3
Intercept
0.19*** (0.008)
0.22*** (0.008)
0.22*** (0.008)
predicted_g
0.98*** (0.009)
0.95*** (0.009)
0.96*** (0.010)
Black
-0.25*** (0.025)
-0.35*** (0.038)
Hispanic
-0.10* (0.037)
-0.15** (0.050)
predicted_g * Black
-0.11*** (0.031)
predicted_g * Hispanic
-0.08 (0.048)
R2 adj.
0.741
0.747
0.747
N
4379
4379
4379
We see that adding the race variable (Model 2-3 from 1) has only a minor
effect on the model fit (R2 gain is .006). Because of our large sample size, we still
see that the race variables are detected as useful in the model (small p values),
both main and (for blacks) interaction effects. Thus, prediction of g from MMPI
items was not race-invariant. Figure 7 shows the resulting predictive bias.
Figure 7. Predictive validity by race. Lines by LOESS.
MANKIND QUARTERLY 2021 61:4
806
We see that the lines are somewhat different. The line for blacks is somewhat
below the white line except for the high end of g. In terms of correlations, the
values are .85, .83, and .81, for whites, Hispanics, and blacks, respectively.
Discussion
We examined the relationships between the general psychopathology factor
(P factor) scored from the MMPI data, and intelligence extracted from a battery
of 19 diverse cognitive tests. We find that the scoring method of MMPI data has
a large effect on the strength of the association to intelligence. When we extracted
the P factor from the 14 MMPI provided scales, the scores correlated at -.25 with
intelligence, when we computed a sumscore from the items, the resulting factor
correlated -.31 with intelligence, and when we fit an item response theory (IRT,
2PL) model to the item data, the scores from this correlated at -.35 with
intelligence. We examined race gaps in the MMPI scores as a validation test, and
found that these could be partially (scales-based and sumscores) or entirely (IRT
scores) explained as being a function of the intelligence gaps. Furthermore, there
was a moderately strong Jensen pattern in the data such that indicators with
stronger loadings on the P factor also had more negative relations to intelligence.
This pattern was seen for both scales (r = -.60) and item (r = -.51) factor analysis.
The pattern suggests that the underlying construct of the P factor, or some related
metric (e.g. network loading, (Christensen & Golino, 2020)) is related to
intelligence, though not overwhelmingly so.
To examine whether predictions could be made more accurate by supervised
learning, we fit machine learning algorithms (elastic net, lasso, and random forest)
to predict intelligence from the MMPI items. Since prior research had indicated
that penalized regression approaches work well, we began with an elastic net
model. The accuracy of this model was surprisingly high, r = .84 in the out-of-
sample predictions (standard 10-fold cross-validation). We then fit a lasso (L1
penalization) model to see if we could construct a relatively sparse model, but
unfortunately, this was not very successful (363 out of 556 items used at the
optimal R2). Finally, we fit a random forest model. This performed slightly worse
than the elastic net (r = .78). The failure of the random forest model to do better
than the elastic net indicates that nonlinear and interaction effects are not
important in a given dataset for the purpose of prediction. In other words, the
additive assumption is supported for this dataset and outcome variable. Our
variables were binary, so linearity is not a potential issue. This finding replicates
the result found in a prior study using items from cognitive ability tests to predict
an assortment of life outcomes or personal characteristics such as education,
income, age, sex (Cutler et al., 2019; see appendix for a summary of this study).
KIRKEGAARD, E.O.W. & NYBORG, H. IQ & GENERAL PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
807
The accuracy of the intelligence prediction is so high that unless one has
multiple high-quality tests in a dataset, it would be more accurate to impute from
MMPI items. If this finding holds and can be generalized to other traits, it has
important implications for data collection and expansion. It suggests that it is
possible to train machine learning algorithms to predict unobserved traits in
datasets as long as these contain a large number of diverse items one can predict
from. If the method works, it could augment our existing datasets with new traits
for use in many analyses. Similarly, it could be used to improve the estimation of
existing traits (i.e. reduce measurement error). One far-reaching idea here is that
we could collect new datasets that contain items found in an old dataset as well
as traits of interest that are missing in the old datasets. We then train a model to
predict the desired but missing traits on the new data, and apply it to the old
dataset. In this way, we can potentially choose and add new variables to existing
datasets where the subjects are no longer available for measurement (e.g.
deceased). The question of whether this approach would be successful depends
on the ability of the predictive models to generalize across traits and datasets that
were perhaps collected across decades in time.
A related approach to the one advocated above is combining and
abbreviating scales (Eisenbarth et al., 2015; Yarkoni, 2010, 2015). Currently,
most scales were and are developed with factorial purity in mind, often simply
measured with Cronbach’s alpha. People strive to create items that measure one
trait only (weak cross-loadings) and measure it well (high loading). While this is
good in some ways, it is highly inefficient. From an informative theoretic
perspective, high correlations between items in a survey indicate redundancy.
Cronbach’s alpha is probably mainly used because it is taken as a proxy for what
we really want, test-retest reliability (Revelle & Condon, 2019). However, it is
possible to have a test with alpha reliability of approximately 0 while having very
high retest reliability. If instead one had a pool of items that measured multiple or
even many traits at once, one could develop models on these to simultaneously
score the various traits. This could potentially result in quite short surveys or tests
that measure a lot of aspects just as well as now by exploiting the cross-loadings
properly. Based on this perspective, what one should strive for in items is in fact
high cross-loadings and high test-retest reliability. A variety of algorithms have
been suggested for shortening tests without causing increased construct validity,
by directly training to retain a subset of items that retain the scale’s relations to
criterion variables. This approach is similar to the one used here, even more
advanced (Raborn & Leite, 2020; Schroeders et al., 2016). We found, however,
without such direct criteria related training that the results nevertheless did not
indicate any construct contamination or invalidity.
MANKIND QUARTERLY 2021 61:4
808
Another way to think about the results is in terms of Paul Meehl’s crud factor,
which is the tendency for everything to be correlated with everything else,
although usually weakly.
14
In fact, Edward L. Thorndike had already described a
stronger version of this idea in 1920: “... in human nature good traits go together.
To him that hath a superior intellect is given also on the average a superior
character; the quick boy is also in the long run more accurate; the able boy is also
more industrious. There is no principle of compensation whereby a weak intellect
is offset by a strong will, a poor memory by good judgment, or a lack of ambition
by an attractive personality. Every pair of such supposed compensating qualities
that have been investigated has been found really to show correspondence.”
(Thorndike, 1920). Another way to state the same is to say that the true
distribution of correlations among variables is importantly moved away from zero,
forming a kind of mixed distribution, perhaps with 2 modes around +/- .10 or
thereabouts. Thus, the reason why the results in the present study are so strong
is that we sampled a very large collection of items with a sufficiently large sample
size to enable us to find the most predictive items without much overfitting. In fact
there are a number of single items with latent correlations to g above |.40|, which
is quite impressive for single items.
The main limitations of the current study are as follows. First, we used a
single dataset, so it is not known to which extent the results will generalize across
datasets. Because our sample size is relatively large, pure sampling error is not
a likely problem with our general findings. Thus, an important task for future work
is finding datasets that contain the same pool of item data, and examining
predictive validity across datasets. It is particularly important to examine whether
cross-dataset validity is stable for datasets collected decades apart, or whether it
decays quickly; and whether or not it is stable across countries. In fact, whether
this is the case is equivalent to asking whether the relations between traits that
the models rely upon change much over time and are different in different places.
If not, then the models should remain valid for datasets collected decades apart.
Second, we only had relatively large samples for whites, Hispanics and
blacks. It’s possible that the results work differently for other populations or racial
groups. Our analyses of predictive invariance of the predicted intelligence scores
revealed some departure from perfection. In fact, such results are expected on
theoretical grounds in some cases (Borsboom et al., 2008). Specifically, unequal
14
In fact, Meehl (1986, 1990) ascribes this name to David T. Lykken in a book chapter
published before his well-known 1990 article. He had, however, discussed the idea
without the name decades earlier. For a historical review of the general “everything is
correlated” idea, see Branwen (2014).
KIRKEGAARD, E.O.W. & NYBORG, H. IQ & GENERAL PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
809
variances across subgroups will result in deviations from predictive invariance.
The appendix contains descriptive statistics for the primary variables.
Third, the dataset here concerns only men, only people who had military
experience, and covered a fairly narrow age range. It is possible that this lack of
diversity in demographics has impacted the results. In fact, a general narrowing
of diversity in a sample is expected to lower trait correlations (range restriction).
Thus, based on this limitation, one might expect results to be stronger with more
diverse samples.
Acknowledgements and supplementary materials
We would like to thank the US Department of Defense for collecting this
detailed dataset and putting it in the public domain. All study materials can be
found in the OSF repository at https://osf.io/dbn4k/. Additionally, the R notebook
from the study is available at https://rpubs.com/EmilOWK/VES_MMPI.
References
Al-Bursan, I.S., Kirkegaard, E.O.W., Fuerst, J., Bakhiet, S.F.A., Al Qudah, M.F.,
Hassan, E.M.A.H. & Abduljabbar, A.S. (2018). Sex differences in 32,347 Jordanian 4th
graders on the National Exam of Mathematics. Journal of Individual Differences 40: 71-
81. https://doi.org/10.1027/1614-0001/a000278
Alegre, A., Pérez-Escoda, N. & López-Cassá, E. (2019). The relationship between trait
emotional intelligence and personality. Is trait EI really anchored within the Big Five, Big
Two and Big One frameworks? Frontiers in Psychology 10: 866.
Barron, F. (1953). An ego-strength scale which predicts response to psychotherapy.
Journal of Consulting Psychology 17: 327333. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0061962
Bayroff, A.G. & Fuchs, E.F. (1970). The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.
U.S. Army Behavior and Systems Research Laboratory.
https://apps.dtic.mil/docs/citations/AD0706832
Borsboom, D., Romeijn, J.-W. & Wicherts, J.M. (2008). Measurement invariance versus
selection invariance: Is fair selection possible? Psychological Methods 13: 75-98.
https://doi.org/10.1037/1082-989X.13.2.75
Branwen, G. (2014). Everything is correlated. https://www.gwern.net/Everything
Buechley, R. & Ball, H. (1952). A new test of “validity” for the group MMPI. Journal of
Consulting Psychology 16: 299-301. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0053897
Caspi, A., Houts, R.M., Belsky, D.W., Goldman-Mellor, S.J., Harrington, H., Israel, S.,
Meier, M.H., Ramrakha, S., Shalev, I., Poulton, R. & Moffitt, T.E. (2014). The p factor:
MANKIND QUARTERLY 2021 61:4
810
One general psychopathology factor in the structure of psychiatric disorders? Clinical
Psychological Science 2: 119-137. https://doi.org/10.1177/2167702613497473
Centers for Disease Control (1989). Health status of Vietnam veterans, Vol. I, Synopsis.
Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services.
Chalmers, P., Pritikin, J., Robitzsch, A., Zoltak, M., Kim, K., Falk, C.F., Meade, A.,
Schneider, L., King, D., Liu, C.-W. & Oguzhan, O. (2020). mirt: Multidimensional Item
Response Theory (1.32.1) [Computer software].
https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=mirt
Choca, J.P., Peterson, C.A. & Shanley, L.A. (1986). Factor analysis of the Millon Clinical
Multiaxial Inventory. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 54: 253-255.
https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-006x.54.2.253
Christensen, A.P. & Golino, H. (2020). Statistical equivalency of factor and network
loadings [Preprint]. PsyArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/xakez
Cortina, J.M., Doherty, M.L., Kaufman, G. & Smith, R.G. (1992). The “Big Five”
Personality Factors in the Ipi and Mmpi: Predictors of Police Performance. Personnel
Psychology 45: 119-140. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-6570.1992.tb00847.x
Cox, A.C., Weed, N.C. & Butcher, J.N. (2009). The MMPI-2: History, Interpretation, and
Clinical Issues. Oxford Univ. Press.
https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195366877.013.0014
Cutler, A., Dunkel, C.S., McLoughlin, S. & Kirkegaard, E.O.W. (2019). Machine learning
psychometrics: Improved cognitive ability validity from supervised training on item level
data. International Society for Intelligence Research, Minneapolis, MN, USA.
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/334477851_Machine_learning_psychometrics
_Improved_cognitive_ability_validity_from_supervised_training_on_item_level_data
Dahlstrom, W., Welsh, G. & Dahlstrom, L. (1975). An MMPI Handbook Volume I Clinical
Interpretation. A Revised Edition. Univ. Of Minnesota Press.
DeMars, C. (2010). Item Response Theory. Oxford University Press.
Eisenbarth, H., Lilienfeld, S.O. & Yarkoni, T. (2015). Using a genetic algorithm to
abbreviate the Psychopathic Personality InventoryRevised (PPI-R). Psychological
Assessment 27: 194-202. https://doi.org/10.1037/pas0000032
Elwood, R.W. (1995). The California Verbal Learning Test: Psychometric characteristics
and clinical application. Neuropsychology Review 5(3): 173-201.
Framingham, J. (2016, May 17). Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI).
//psychcentral.com/lib/minnesota-multiphasic-personality-inventory-mmpi/
Gourlay, N. (1980). Psychiatric group dimensions within the pen structure. Personality
and Individual Differences 1: 121-127. https://doi.org/10.1016/0191-8869(80)90029-X
KIRKEGAARD, E.O.W. & NYBORG, H. IQ & GENERAL PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
811
Greve, K.W., Stickle, T.R., Love, J.M., Bianchini, K.J. & Stanford, M.S. (2005). Latent
structure of the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test: A confirmatory factor analytic study.
Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology 20: 355-364.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acn.2004.09.004
Hall, G.C.N., Bansal, A. & Lopez, I.R. (1999). Ethnicity and psychopathology: A meta-
analytic review of 31 years of comparative MMPI/MMPI-2 research. Psychological
Assessment 11: 186-197. https://doi.org/10.1037/1040-3590.11.2.186
Haltigan, J.D. (2019). Editorial: Putting practicality into “p”: Leveraging general factor
models of psychopathology in clinical intervention. Journal of the American Academy of
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 58: 751-753. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2019.03.005
Han, K., Weed, N.C. & McNeal, T.P. (1996). Searching for Conscientiousness on the
MMPI-2. Journal of Personality Assessment 67: 354-363.
https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327752jpa6702_10
Irwing, P., Booth, T., Nyborg, H. & Rushton, J.P. (2012). Are g and the General Factor
of Personality (GFP) correlated? Intelligence 40: 296-305.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2012.03.001
James, G., Witten, D., Hastie, T. & Tibshirani, R. (eds.) (2013). An Introduction to
Statistical Learning: With Applications in R. Springer.
Jensen, A.R. (1998). The g Factor: The Science of Mental Ability. Praeger.
Kirkegaard, E.O.W. (2018, Oct. 3). The g factor and principal components regression.
Clear Language, Clear Mind. https://emilkirkegaard.dk/en/?p=7414
Kirkegaard, E.O.W. & Nyborg, H. (2020). Pupil size and intelligence: A large-scale
replication study. Mankind Quarterly 60: 525-538.
Kotov, R., Gamez, W., Schmidt, F. & Watson, D. (2010). Linking “big” personality traits
to anxiety, depressive, and substance use disorders: A meta-analysis. Psychological
Bulletin 136: 768-821. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0020327
Kuhn, M., Wickham, H. & RStudio (2020). tidymodels: Easily Install and Load the
“Tidymodels” Packages (0.1.0) [Computer software].
https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=tidymodels
Laceulle, O.M., Vollebergh, W.A.M. & Ormel, J. (2015). The structure of
psychopathology in adolescence: Replication of a general psychopathology factor in the
TRAILS Study. Clinical Psychological Science 3: 850-860.
https://doi.org/10.1177/2167702614560750
Leckliter, I.N., Matarazzo, J.D. & Silverstein, A.B. (1986). A literature review of factor
analytic studies of the WAIS-R. Journal of Clinical Psychology 42: 332-342.
https://doi.org/10.1002/1097-4679(198603)42:2<332::AID-JCLP2270420220>3.0.CO;2-
2
MANKIND QUARTERLY 2021 61:4
812
Lynn, R. (2002). Racial and ethnic differences in psychopathic personality. Personality
and Individual Differences 32: 273-316. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0191-8869(01)00029-0
Martel, M.M., Pan, P.M., Hoffmann, M.S., Gadelha, A., do Rosário, M.C., Mari, J.J.,
Manfro, G.G., Miguel, E.C., Paus, T., Bressan, R.A., Rohde, L.A. & Salum, G.A. (2017).
A general psychopathology factor (P factor) in children: Structural model analysis and
external validation through familial risk and child global executive function. Journal of
Abnormal Psychology 126: 137-148. https://doi.org/10.1037/abn0000205
McNeish, D. & Wolf, M.G. (2020). Thinking twice about sum scores. Behavior Research
Methods 52: 2287-2305. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-020-01398-0
Meehl, P.E. (1986). What social scientists don’t understand. In: D.W. Fiske & R.A.
Shweder (eds.), Metatheory in Social Science: Pluralisms and Subjectivities, pp. 315-
338.
Meehl, P.E. (1990). Why summaries of research on psychological theories are often
uninterpretable. Psychological Reports 66: 195-244.
https://doi.org/10.2466/pr0.1990.66.1.195
Merrill, R.M. & Heathers, L.B. (1956). The relation of the MMPI to the Edwards Personal
Preference Schedule on a college counseling center sample. Journal of Consulting
Psychology 20: 310-314. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0047297
Mõttus, R., Bates, T., Condon, D.M., Mroczek, D. & Revelle, W. (2017). Your personality
data can do more: Items provide leverage for explaining the variance and co-variance of
life outcomes. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/4q9gv
Musek, J. (2017). The General Factor of Personality. Academic Press.
Neumann, A., Pappa, I., Lahey, B.B., Verhulst, F.C., Medina-Gomez, C., Jaddoe, V.W.,
Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.J., Moffitt, T.E., van IJzendoorn, M.H. & Tiemeier, H. (2016).
Single nucleotide polymorphism heritability of a General Psychopathology Factor in
children. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 55: 1038-
1045. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2016.09.498
Oltmanns, J.R., Smith, G.T., Oltmanns, T.F. & Widiger, T.A. (2018). General factors of
psychopathology, personality, and personality disorder: Across domain comparisons.
Clinical Psychological Science 6: 581-589. https://doi.org/10.1177/2167702617750150
Patalay, P., Fonagy, P., Deighton, J., Belsky, J., Vostanis, P. & Wolpert, M. (2015). A
general psychopathology factor in early adolescence. British Journal of Psychiatry 207:
15-22. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.114.149591
Pettersson, E, Anckarsäter, H., Gillberg, C. & Lichtenstein, P. (2013). Different
neurodevelopmental symptoms have a common genetic etiology. Journal of Child
Psychology and Psychiatry 54: 1356-1365. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12113
Pettersson, E., Larsson, H. & Lichtenstein, P. (2016). Common psychiatric disorders
KIRKEGAARD, E.O.W. & NYBORG, H. IQ & GENERAL PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
813
share the same genetic origin: A multivariate sibling study of the Swedish population.
Molecular Psychiatry 21: 717-721. https://doi.org/10.1038/mp.2015.116
Pukrop, R., Gentil, I., Steinbring, I. & Steinmeyer, E. (2001). Factorial structure of the
German version of the Dimensional Assessment of Personality PathologyBasic
questionnaire in clinical and nonclinical samples. Journal of Personality Disorders 15:
450-456. https://doi.org/10.1521/pedi.15.5.450.19195
Raborn, A. & Leite, W. (2020). ShortForm: Automatic Short Form Creation (0.4.6)
[Computer software]. https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=ShortForm
Revelle, W. (2020). psych: Procedures for Psychological, Psychometric, and Personality
Research (1.9.12.31) [Computer software]. https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=psych
Revelle, W. & Condon, D.M. (2019). Reliability from α to ω: A tutorial. Psychological
Assessment 31: 1395-1411. https://doi.org/10.1037/pas0000754
Rietz, E.D., Pettersson, E., Brikell, I., Ghirardi, L., Chen, Q., Hartman, C., Lichtenstein,
P., Larsson, H. & Kuja-Halkola, R. (2020). ADHD is more closely linked to
neurodevelopmental than externalizing and internalizing disorders: A genetically
informed multivariate Swedish population study. MedRxiv, 2020.02.26.20028175.
https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.02.26.20028175
Rosenström, T., Gjerde, L.C., Krueger, R.F., Aggen, S.H., Czajkowski, N.O., Gillespie,
N.A., Kendler, K.S., Reichborn-Kjennerud, T., Torvik, F.A. & Ystrom, E. (2019). Joint
factorial structure of psychopathology and personality. Psychological Medicine 49:
2158-2167. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291718002982
Ruff, R.M. & Parker, S.B. (1993). Gender- and age-specific changes in motor speed and
eye-hand coordination in adults: Normative values for the finger tapping and grooved
pegboard tests. Perceptual and Motor Skills 76(3S): 1219-1230.
https://doi.org/10.2466/pms.1993.76.3c.1219
Rushton, J.P. (1998). The “Jensen effect” and the “Spearman-Jensen hypothesis” of
Black-White IQ differences. Intelligence 26: 217-225. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0160-
2896(99)80004-X
Schroeders, U., Wilhelm, O. & Olaru, G. (2016). Meta-heuristics in short scale
construction: Ant colony optimization and genetic algorithm. PLoS ONE 11(11):
e0167110. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0167110
Shin, M.-S., Park, S.-Y., Park, S.-R., Seol, S.-H. & Kwon, J.S. (2006). Clinical and
empirical applications of the ReyOsterrieth Complex Figure Test. Nature Protocols
1(2): 892-899. https://doi.org/10.1038/nprot.2006.115
Smith, G.T., Atkinson, E.A., Davis, H.A., Riley, E.N. & Oltmanns, J.R. (2020). The
General Factor of Psychopathology. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology 16: 75-98.
https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-071119-115848
MANKIND QUARTERLY 2021 61:4
814
Tackett, J.L., Lahey, B.B., Hulle, C.V., Waldman, I., Krueger, R.F. & Rathouz, P.J.
(2013). Common genetic influences on negative emotionality and a general
psychopathology factor in childhood and adolescence. Journal of Abnormal Psychology
122: 1142-1153. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0034151
Thorndike, E.L. (1920). Intelligence and its uses. Harper’s Magazine 140: 227-235.
Tombaugh, T.N. (2006). A comprehensive review of the Paced Auditory Serial Addition
Test (PASAT). Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology 21: 53-76.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acn.2005.07.006
Trzaskowski, M., Shakeshaft, N.G. & Plomin, R. (2013). Intelligence indexes generalist
genes for cognitive abilities. Intelligence 41: 560-565.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2013.07.011
Walters, G.D., Knight, R.A., Grann, M. & Dahle, K.-P. (2008). Incremental validity of the
Psychopathy Checklist facet scores: Predicting release outcome in six samples. Journal
of Abnormal Psychology 117: 396-405. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-843X.117.2.396
Witt, J.C. (1986). Review of the Wide Range Achievement Test-Revised. Journal of
Psychoeducational Assessment 4: 87-90. https://doi.org/10.1177/073428298600400110
Yarkoni, T. (2010). The abbreviation of personality, or how to measure 200 personality
scales with 200 items. Journal of Research in Personality 44: 180-198.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2010.01.002
Yarkoni, T. (2015). Internal consistency is overrated, or how I learned to stop worrying
and love shorter measures, Part I. http://www.talyarkoni.org/blog/2015/01/26/internal-
consistency-is-overrated-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-shorter-measures-
part-i/
Appendix
MMPI item examples:
The MMPI items are often analyzed but rarely presented. Since they are
copyrighted, we cannot present them all here. However, the fair use clause of US
copyright law allows us to present some of them for discussion. The list below
contains the first 25 items from the MMPI 1975 version used in this study.
1. I like mechanics magazines.
2. I have a good appetite.
3. I wake up fresh and rested most mornings.
4. I think I would like the work of a librarian.
5. I am easily awakened by noise.
KIRKEGAARD, E.O.W. & NYBORG, H. IQ & GENERAL PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
815
6. I like to read newspaper articles on crime.
7. My hands and feet are usually warm enough.
8. My daily life is full of things that keep me interested.
9. I am about as able to work as I ever was.
10. There seems to be a lump in my throat much of the time.
11. A person should try to understand his dreams and be guided by or take
warning from them.
12. I enjoy detective or mystery stories.
13. I work under a great deal of tension.
14. I have diarrhea once a month or more.
15. Once in a while I think of things too bad to talk about.
16. I am sure I get a raw deal from life.
17. My father was a good man.
18. I am very seldom troubled by constipation.
19. When I take a new job, I like to be tipped off on who should be gotten
next to.
20. My sex life is satisfactory.
21. At times I have very much wanted to leave home.
22. At times I have fits of laughing and crying that I cannot control.
23. I am troubled by attacks of nausea and vomiting.
24. No one seems to understand me.
25. I would like to be a singer.
MMPI top IQ associated items:
The table below gives the top 25 items with the strongest association with
IQ, measured as the IQ gap size between those who answer “yes” and those who
answer “no”. In empirical fact, these all have negative gaps and positive P
loadings, but this is not always the case. The first item with a positive relationship
is the 30th. The 7th and 14th items are the same, and show similar associations.
There are 15 pairs of duplicated items in the MMPI, designed to measure
consistency to guard against random answers (Buechley & Ball, 1952; Merrill &
Heathers, 1956).
Item
Item
Prevalence
P loading
IQ gap
1.
Someone has been trying to poison me.
MM010151
0.01
0.54
-15.37
2.
I was a slow learner in school.
MM010260
0.38
0.38
-14.85
3.
I commonly hear voices without knowing
where they come from.
MM010184
0.04
0.75
-14.62
4.
Dirt frightens or disgusts me.
MM010510
0.08
0.47
-14.34
5.
I hear strange things when I am alone.
MM010350
0.06
0.77
-13.86
6.
Sexual things disgust me.
MM010470
0.03
0.36
-13.86
7.
I am sure I get a raw deal from life.
MM010315
0.06
0.81
-13.81
MANKIND QUARTERLY 2021 61:4
816
Item
Item
Prevalence
P loading
IQ gap
8.
I believe I am being followed.
MM010123
0.02
0.74
-13.49
9.
A windstorm terrifies me.
MM010392
0.11
0.38
-13.34
10.
In walking I am very careful to step
over sidewalk cracks.
MM010213
0.09
0.43
-13.31
11.
People say insulting and vulgar things
about me.
MM010364
0.11
0.66
-12.85
12.
The future is too uncertain for a person
to make serious plans.
MM010395
0.20
0.63
-12.70
13.
I have had attacks in which I could not
control my movements or speech but in
which I knew what was going on around me.
MM010194
0.06
0.61
-12.67
14.
I am sure I get a raw deal from life.
MM010016
0.09
0.74
-12.60
15.
At times I have enjoyed being hurt
by someone I loved.
MM010363
0.03
0.67
-12.51
16.
I believe I am a condemned person.
MM010202
0.04
0.75
-12.28
17.
I have often been frightened in the middle
of the night.
MM010559
0.12
0.73
-12.27
18.
Sometimes I am strongly attracted by the
personal articles of others such as shoes,
gloves, etc., so that I want to handle or steal
them though I have no use for them.
MM010085
0.01
0.61
-12.21
19.
I feel uneasy indoors.
MM010365
0.10
0.60
-12.18
20.
I believe my sins are unpardonable.
MM010209
0.05
0.59
-12.12
21.
Once a week or oftener I feel suddenly
hot all over, without apparent cause.
MM010047
0.10
0.66
-11.91
22.
I cannot understand what I read as
well as I used to.
MM010159
0.23
0.60
-11.74
23.
I have certainly had more than my
share of things to worry about.
MM010338
0.42
0.65
-11.72
24.
I feel that I have often been punished
without cause.
MM010157
0.13
0.77
-11.67
25.
I am troubled by attacks of nausea
and vomiting.
MM010023
0.03
0.66
-11.56
Cognitive ability battery
This text is copied from (Kirkegaard & Nyborg, 2020).
1. Grooved Pegboard Test (GPT, right hand): A measure of manual
dexterity and fine motor speed (Ruff & Parker, 1993). The speed score
is the reciprocal of the number of seconds taken to place a set of pegs
in a grooved hole as quickly as possible.
2. GPT (left hand).
3. Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT): A measure of mental
control, speed, and computational and attentional abilities (Tombaugh,
KIRKEGAARD, E.O.W. & NYBORG, H. IQ & GENERAL PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
817
2006). The subject mentally adds a sequence of numbers in rapid
succession. Score is the total number of correct responses.
4. Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure Drawing (CFD): A measure of
visuospatial ability and memory (Shin et al., 2006). The direct copy score
(CFDD) is given from a subject reproducing a complex spatial figure
while the figure is in full view.
5. CFD, copy from immediate recall. The immediate recall score (CFDI) is
given from a subject reproducing a complex spatial figure immediately
after being shown it.
6. CFD, copy from delayed recall. The delayed recall score (CFDL) is given
from a subject being exposed to a complex spatial figure and, after 20
minutes of other activities, drawing it.
7. Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised (WAIS-R), general
information (Leckliter et al., 1986). A test of general knowledge.
8. WAIS-R, block design. A test of spatial ability.
9. Word List Generation Test (WLGT). A measure of verbal fluency. The
subject generates as many words as possible which begin with the
letters F, A, and S for 60 seconds. The score is the total number of words
generated.
10. Wisconsin Card Sort Test (WCST). A measure of executive function
(Greve et al., 2005). The score is the ratio of correct responses to
countable responses.
11. Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT). Measures ability to read aloud
a list of single words (untimed) (Witt, 1986).
12. California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT). A measure of verbal learning
and memory (Elwood, 1995). The subject recalls a list of 16 words over
5 repeated learning trials. The score is the total correct over 5 trials.
13. Army Classification Battery (ACB). A verbal test administered at
induction (ACBVE) (Bayroff & Fuchs, 1970).
14. ACB verbal. Administered at the follow-up interview (ACBVL).
15. ACB arithmetic reasoning test. An arithmetic test administered at
induction (ACBAE).
16. ACB arithmetic. Administered at the follow-up interview (ACBAL).
17. Pattern Analysis Test (PAT). A measure of pattern recognition
administered at induction.
18. General Information Test (GIT). A test of general knowledge
administered at induction.
19. Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). A general aptitude battery.
This measure is the total score on four subtests (word knowledge,
MANKIND QUARTERLY 2021 61:4
818
paragraph comprehension, arithmetic reasoning, mathematics
knowledge) administered at induction.
Five of the tests (13, 15, 17-19) were given at induction and the remaining at the
follow-up interview. Factor loadings are given below.
Test
g-loading
Test
g-loading
VE time1
0.82
PASAT
0.57
AR time1
0.81
WLGT
0.49
PA
0.70
Copy direct
0.47
GIT
0.69
Copy immediate
0.55
AFQT
0.85
Copy delayed
0.55
VE time2
0.82
CVLT
0.42
AR time2
0.82
WCST
0.46
WAIS BD
0.67
GPT left
0.34
WAIS GI
0.76
GPT right
0.33
WRAT
0.73
Variance explained was 0.42.
Descriptive statistics for primary variables
Trait
Group
N
Mean
SD
Median
Mad
Skew
Kurtosis
g
White
3555
0.00
1.00
0.05
1.05
-0.28
-0.43
g
Black
502
-1.27
0.86
-1.32
0.83
0.39
0.07
g
Hispanic
181
-0.78
0.89
-0.81
0.93
0.16
-0.50
g
Asian
34
-0.20
1.16
-0.12
1.24
-0.42
-0.75
g
Native
48
-0.41
1.05
-0.49
1.09
0.35
-0.39
predicted g
White
3654
0.00
1.00
0.12
1.05
-0.38
-0.36
predicted g
Black
525
-1.22
0.93
-1.24
0.99
0.26
-0.36
predicted g
Hispanic
200
-0.86
0.92
-0.86
0.94
-0.04
-0.34
predicted g
Asian
34
-0.42
0.87
-0.55
0.93
-0.30
-0.47
predicted g
Native
49
-0.64
1.05
-0.73
1.08
0.44
-0.72
P IRT
White
3654
0.00
1.00
0.00
0.99
-0.07
0.02
P IRT
Black
525
0.37
0.91
0.36
0.90
-0.09
-0.09
P IRT
Hispanic
200
0.37
1.06
0.29
1.12
0.18
-0.41
P IRT
Asian
34
0.35
1.15
0.32
1.14
-0.10
-0.52
P IRT
Native
49
0.58
1.06
0.54
0.95
-0.16
0.14
KIRKEGAARD, E.O.W. & NYBORG, H. IQ & GENERAL PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
819
Summary of Cutler et al. (2019)
Because this conference presentation is somewhat obscure and the study is
relevant to the present, we reproduce the summary of the study here for ease of
reference.
Has psychometrics overlooked machine learning methods? We investigated
whether machine learning methods could improve the scoring of cognitive item
data. To do this, we collected 7 large datasets of item data (total n = 37k). Most
datasets provided response-level data i.e. which response subject gave, not just
binary (correct/incorrect). Datasets collectively had many outcomes of interest,
but we focused on a small number that mostly overlapped between datasets: age,
sex, educational attainment and income (all [quasi-]continuous aside from sex).
We then applied standard psychometric scoring methods, sum scores and item
response theory (IRT) scores, to the data as well as a variety of supervised
machine learning methods including random forest, lasso/ridge regression, deep
neural networks, as well as unpenalized ordinary least squares (OLS) for
comparison. Parameters were tuned using efficient leave one out cross-validation
on a training set. Performance was measured on 20% hold out data.
Our results indicate that machine learning methods regularly outperform
standard psychometric scoring methods. Across datasets, a mean gain in validity
of 47%, 17%, and 13% were seen for age, education, and income, respectively.
This gain was fairly consistent across datasets and test item types, i.e. machine
learning methods were able to use all tested item types to extract extra validity,
including vocabulary, memory, verbal fluency, matrices/Raven’s, general
knowledge, and math.
Of the machine learning methods, many were roughly equivalent. Ridge
regression was overall the best method. This indicates that: 1) Sparsity of effects
is not a good assumption for these data, i.e. that each response option was
unique in utility. In other words: the different ‘distractors’ (wrong options) in
multiple choice questions are differentially informative, not equivalent as assumed
by the binary scoring methods. 2) Interactions between items do not seem to play
important roles for predictive purposes, in line with traditional psychometric
results.
We conclude that standard scoring approaches of cognitive data are missing
extra validity present in the data, sometimes a lot of it, depending on the outcome.
This finding has implications for tests used for practical purposes (such as
selection, dementia screening), where their validity has likely been
underestimated.
... To illustrate the attenuation effect in the estimation of factor loadings and reliability under IRR in real data, we took a freely available dataset from the Vietnam Experience Study (accessed via https://osf.io/dbn4k). This dataset contains data from 4,462 participants in 19 intelligence tests which total scores were used by Kirkegaard and Nyborg (2021) to calculate the g-factor scores. ...
... Results of factor loadings relative bias (RB), factor loadings Root Mean Square Error (RMSE), and % bias of α, with empirical and simulated data, in each level of restriction (C100, C80, C60, C40, and C20). Empirical data were obtained by Kirkegaard and Nyborg (2021 ...
Article
Full-text available
A sample suffers range restriction (RR) when its variance is reduced comparing with its population variance and, in turn, it fails representing such population. If the RR occurs over the latent factor, not directly over the observed variable, the researcher deals with an indirect RR, common when using convenience samples. This work explores how this problem affects different outputs of the factor analysis: multivariate normality (MVN), estimation process, goodness-of-fit, recovery of factor loadings, and reliability. In doing so, a Monte Carlo study was conducted. Data were generated following the linear selective sampling model, simulating tests varying their sample size (N = 200 and 500 cases), test size (J = 6, 12, 18, and 24 items), loading size (L = .50, .70, and .90), and restriction size (from R = 1, .90, .80, and so on till .10 selection ratio). Our results systematically suggest that an interaction between decreasing the loading size and increasing the restriction size affects the MVN assessment, obstructs the estimation process, and leads to an underestimation of the factor loadings and reliability. However, most of the MVN tests and most of the fit indices employed were nonsensitive to the RR problem. We provide some recommendations to applied researchers.
Presentation
Full-text available
Review of the research on General Factor of Personality.
Article
Full-text available
Recent research has demonstrated that the network measure node strength or sum of a node's connections is roughly equivalent to confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) loadings. A key finding of this research is that node strength represents a combination of different latent causes. In the present research, we sought to circumvent this issue by formulating a network equivalent of factor loadings, which we call network loadings. In two simulations, we evaluated whether these network loadings could effectively (1) separate the effects of multiple latent causes and (2) estimate the simulated factor loading matrix of factor models. Our findings suggest that the network loadings can effectively do both. In addition, we leveraged the second simulation to derive effect size guidelines for network loadings. In a third simulation, we evaluated the similarities and differences between factor and network loadings when the data were generated from random, factor, and network models. We found sufficient differences between the loadings, which allowed us to develop an algorithm to predict the data generating model called the Loadings Comparison Test (LCT). The LCT had high sensitivity and specificity when predicting the data generating model. In sum, our results suggest that network loadings can provide similar information to factor loadings when the data are generated from a factor model and therefore can be used in a similar way (e.g., item selection, measurement invariance, factor scores).
Article
Full-text available
A recent study by Tsukahara et al. (2016) found correlations between pupil size and measures of intelligence, with r values around .30. We attempted to replicate this association in a large dataset of US military personnel (n = 4,462). General intelligence, g, was extracted from 19 diverse tests. We first confirmed that right and left eye pupil size measures are strongly correlated (r = .97), suggesting high measurement reliability for this phenotype. However, unlike Tsukuhara et al., we could establish only small to nonexistent associations between cognitive ability and pupil size (r's-.01 to .06, r with g specifically = .05). Regression analyses, controlling for multiple covariates, revealed that the association in this large representative sample was entirely attributable to confounding with race/ethnicity. Mean pupil size (mm) was 3.56, 3.35, and 3.23 for whites, Hispanics, and blacks, respectively. Relative to whites, this corresponds to effect sizes of 0.22 and 0.34 d. It is unclear why our results differ from those reported by Tsukahara et al. (2016), but the ethnic size rank order suggests an evolutionary explanation in terms of geo-bio-climatic selection for pupil size.
Article
Full-text available
A common way to form scores from multiple-item scales is to sum responses of all items. Though sum scoring is often contrasted with factor analysis as a competing method, we review how factor analysis and sum scoring both fall under the larger umbrella of latent variable models, with sum scoring being a constrained version of a factor analysis. Despite similarities, reporting of psychometric properties for sum scored or factor analyzed scales are quite different. Further, if researchers use factor analysis to validate a scale but subsequently sum score the scale, this employs a model that differs from validation model. By framing sum scoring within a latent variable framework, our goal is to raise awareness that (a) sum scoring requires rather strict constraints, (b) imposing these constraints requires the same type of justification as any other latent variable model, and (c) sum scoring corresponds to a statistical model and is not a model-free arithmetic calculation. We discuss how unjustified sum scoring can have adverse effects on validity, reliability, and qualitative classification from sum score cut-offs. We also discuss considerations for how to use scale scores in subsequent analyses and how these choices can alter conclusions. The general goal is to encourage researchers to more critically evaluate how they obtain, justify, and use multiple-item scale scores.
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: While ADHD is currently classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder in the latest diagnostic manuals, the disorder shows phenotypic and genetic associations of similar magnitudes across neurodevelopmental, externalizing and internalizing disorders. This study aimed to investigate if ADHD is etiologically more closely related to neurodevelopmental than externalizing or internalizing disorder clusters after accounting for a general psychopathology factor. Methods: Full- and maternal half-sibling pairs (N=774,416), born between 1980 and 1995, were identified from the Swedish Medical Birth and Multi-Generation Registers, and ICD-diagnoses were obtained using the Swedish National Patient Register. A higher-order confirmatory factor analytic model was performed to examine associations between ADHD and a general psychopathology factor as well as a neurodevelopmental, externalizing, and internalizing subfactor. Quantitative genetic modelling was performed to estimate the extent to which genetic, shared and non-shared environmental effects influenced the associations with ADHD. Results: ADHD was significantly and strongly associated with all three neurodevelopmental, externalizing and internalizing factors (r=0.67-0.75). However, after controlling for a general psychopathology factor, only the association between ADHD and the neurodevelopmental-specific factor remained moderately strong (r=0.43, 95%Confidence Interval [CI]=0.42-0.45) and was almost entirely influenced by genetic effects. In contrast, the association between ADHD and the externalizing-specific factor was smaller (r=0.25, 95%CI=0.24-0.27), and largely influenced by non-shared environmental effects. There remained no internalizing-specific factor after accounting for a general factor. Conclusions: ADHD comorbidity is largely explained by genetically influenced general psychopathology, but the strong link between ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders is also substantially driven by unique genetic influences.
Preprint
Full-text available
Recent research has demonstrated that the network measure node strength or sum of a node’s connections is roughly equivalent to confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) loadings. A key finding of this research is that node strength represents a combination of different latent causes. In the present research, we sought to circumvent this issue by formulating a network equivalent of factor loadings, which we call network loadings. In two simulations, we evaluated whether these network loadings could effectively (1) separate the effects of multiple latent causes and (2) estimate the simulated factor loading matrix of factor models. Our findings suggest that the network loadings can effectively do both. In addition, we leveraged the second simulation to derive effect size guidelines for network loadings. In a third simulation, we evaluated the similarities and differences between factor and network loadings when the data were generated from random, factor, and network models. We found sufficient differences between the loadings, which allowed us to develop an algorithm to predict the data generating model called the Loadings Comparison Test (LCT). The LCT had high sensitivity and specificity when predicting the data generating model. In sum, our results suggest that network loadings can provide similar information to factor loadings when the data are generated from a factor model and therefore can be used in a similar way (e.g., item selection, measurement invariance, factor scores). Moreover, we found that network loadings may be a more general case of loadings that can be informative for any data generating model.
Article
Full-text available
Reliability is a fundamental problem for measurement in all of science. Although defined in multiple ways, and estimated in even more ways, the basic concepts seem straightforward and need to be understood by practitioners as well as methodologists. Reliability theory is not just for the psychometrician estimating latent variables, it is for everyone who wants to make inferences from measures of individuals or of groups. For the case of a single test administration, we consider multiple measures of reliability, ranging from the worst (β) to average (α, λ3) to best (λ4) split half reliabilities, and consider why model-based estimates (ωh, ωt) should be reported. We also address the utility of test-retest and alternate form reliabilities. The advantages of immediate versus delayed retests to decompose observed score variance into specific, state, and trait scores are discussed. But reliability is not just for test scores, it is also important when evaluating the use of ratings. Estimates that may be applied to continuous data include a set of intraclass correlations while discrete categorical data needs to take advantage of the family of κ statistics. Examples of these various reliability estimates are given using state and trait measures of anxiety given with different delays and under different conditions. An online supplemental materials is provided with more detail and elaboration. The online supplemental materials is also used to demonstrate applications of open source software to examples of real data, and comparisons are made between the many types of reliability. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
Full-text available
Pérez-González and Sánchez-Ruiz (2014) published a study in which they found that trait emotional intelligence can be considered a broad personality trait integrated into the higher levels of a multi-level personality hierarchy. They also came to the conclusion that this construct can be considered a proxy for the general factor of personality. The purpose of this study is to try to replicate their study. We follow the same methodology these authors used but with a new sample, and a different definition of trait emotional intelligence and therefore a different measurement tool. Our results show convergent validity between trait emotional intelligence and personality, but not discriminant validity, suggesting than trait emotional intelligence is not integrated in the higher level of the personality hierarchies, but it is another way to measure the same big five personality traits that traditionally compose the construct of personality. We also found that trait emotional intelligence highly correlated with the general personality factor, but additionally we found an extremely high negative correlation between those two constructs and neuroticism. This finding suggest that they may represent above all just the absence of neuroticism in a person.
Article
An important advance in understanding and defining mental disorders has been the development of empirical approaches to mapping dimensions of dysfunction and their interrelatedness. Such empirical approaches have consistently observed intercorrelations among the many forms of psychopathology, leading to the identification of a general factor of psychopathology (the p factor). In this article, we review empirical support for p, including evidence for the stability and criterion validity of p. Further, we discuss the strong relationship between p and both the general factor of personality and the general factor of personality disorder, substantive interpretations of p, and the potential clinical utility of p. We posit that proposed substantive interpretations of p do not explain the full range of symptomatology typically included in p. The most plausible explanation is that p represents an index of impairment that has the potential to inform the duration and intensity of a client's mental health treatment. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, Volume 16 is May 7, 2020. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.