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Latent Markov Latent Trait Analysis for Exploring Measurement Model Changes in Intensive Longitudinal Data

Posted on 2020-12-12 - 13:07

Drawing inferences about dynamics of psychological constructs from intensive longitudinal data requires the measurement model (MM)—indicating how items relate to constructs—to be invariant across subjects and time-points. When assessing subjects in their daily life, however, there may be multiple MMs, for instance, because subjects differ in their item interpretation or because the response style of (some) subjects changes over time. The recently proposed “latent Markov factor analysis” (LMFA) evaluates (violations of) measurement invariance by classifying observations into latent “states” according to the MM underlying these observations such that MMs differ between states but are invariant within one state. However, LMFA is limited to normally distributed continuous data and estimates may be inaccurate when applying the method to ordinal data (e.g., from Likert items) with skewed responses or few response categories. To enable researchers and health professionals with ordinal data to evaluate measurement invariance, we present “latent Markov latent trait analysis” (LMLTA), which builds upon LMFA but treats responses as ordinal. Our application shows differences in MMs of adolescents’ affective well-being in different social contexts, highlighting the importance of studying measurement invariance for drawing accurate inferences for psychological science and practice and for further understanding dynamics of psychological constructs.

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