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Structural Equation Modelling (SEM)

An Introduction (Part 3)

CFA Models: Important Steps

Model Specification Model Identification Model Estimation Assessment of Model Fit Model Re-specification

Step 1: Model Specification

SEM is a confirmatory technique and it Needs a model that delineates the relationships among variables Requires a model that is based on theory (Bollen & Long, 1993)

Step 1: Model Specification

Exogenous variables Variables whose causes are unknown and/or not included in the model Variables that explain other variables in the model (i.e. independent variables (IVs)) Endogenous variables Variables that serve as DVs in a model May also serve as IVs

Step 2: Model Identification

Model must be specified so that there are enough pieces of information to give unique estimates for all parameters SEM involves estimating unknown parameters (e.g., factor loadings, path coefficients) based on known parameters (i.e., covariances)

Identification involves whether a unique solution for a model can be obtained Requires more known vs. unknown parameters
Identification is a property of the model, not the data Does not depend on sample size i.e., if a model is not identified, it remains so regardless of whether the sample size is 100, 1000, 10,000, etc.

Step 3: Model Estimation

Over-identified models have infinite # of solutions. Parameters need to be estimated based on a mathematical criterion. Goal is to minimize differences between the observed and implied covariance matrices. Process begins with initial estimates- start values. Is an iterative process will stop when a minimum fitting criterion is reached. When the difference between the observed and implied covariance matrices are minimized

Step 4: Assessing Model Fit

Absolute fit Relative (Comparative) fit

Common Absolute Fit Indices

Model X2* Non-significant X2 (p>0.05) indicates good fit Root Mean Squared Error of Approximation (RMSEA) Acceptable fit < 0.10; good fit < 0.05 Goodness of Fit (GFI) > 0.90 is considered good fit

Common Relative Fit Indices

Normed Fit Index (NFI) Incremental Fit Index (IFI) Comparative Fit Index (CFI)

SEM Model Fit: Rules of Thumb

Will often see/hear reference to 0.90 or above indicating acceptable model fit, for indices such as GFI, CFI, NFI, etc. Typically cite Bentler & Bonett (1980) for this assertation Basis for this is rather thin (Lance et al., 2006) What Bentler and Bonett (1980) actually said: experience will be required to establish values of the indices that are associated with various degrees of meaningfulness of results. In our experience, models with overall fit indices of less than 0.90 can usually be improved substantially (Bentler & Bonett, 1980, p. 600).

Step 5: Model Re-specification/Modification

Goal is to improve model fit changing the model to fit the data Caveats Modifications are post hoc & capitalize on chance! General guidelines Must be theoretically consistent Must be replicated with new data