Applications of covariance structure modeling in psychology: Cause for concern?

  • Breckler S
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Abstract

Methods of covariance structure modeling are frequently applied in psychological research. These methods merge the logic of confirmatory factor analysis, multiple regression, and path analysis within a single data analytic framework. Among the many applications are estimation of disattenuated correlation and regression coefficients, evaluation of multitrait-multimethod matrices, and assessment of hypothesized causal structures. Shortcomings of these methods are commonly acknowledged in the mathematical literature and in textbooks. Nevertheless, serious flaws remain in many published applications. For example, it is rarely noted that the fit of a favored model is identical for a potentially large number of equivalent models. A review of the personality and social psychology literature illustrates the nature of this and other problems in reported applications of covariance structure models.

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