Investigating the Chi-Square-Based Model-Fit Indexes for WLSMV and ULSMV Estimators
Xia, Yan (author)
Yang, Yanyun (professor directing dissertation)
Huffer, Fred W. (Fred William) (university representative)
Almond, Russell G. (committee member)
Becker, Betsy Jane, 1956- (committee member)
Paek, Insu (committee member)
Florida State University (degree granting institution)
College of Education (degree granting college)
Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems (degree granting department)
In structural equation modeling (SEM), researchers use the model chi-square statistic and model-fit indexes to evaluate model-data fit. Root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA), comparative fit index (CFI), and Tucker-Lewis index (TLI) are widely applied model-fit indexes. When data are ordered and categorical, the most popular estimator is the diagonally weighted least squares (DWLS) estimator. Robust corrections have been proposed to adjust the uncorrected chi-square statistic from DWLS so that its first and second order moments are in alignment with the target central chi-square distribution under correctly specified models. DWLS with such a correction is called the mean- and variance-adjusted weighted least squares (WLSMV) estimator. An alternative to WLSMV is the mean-and variance-adjusted unweighted least squares (ULSMV) estimator, which has been shown to perform as well as, or slightly better than WLSMV. Because the chi-square statistic is corrected, the chi-square-based RMSEA, CFI, and TLI are thus also corrected by replacing the uncorrected chi-square statistic with the robust chi-square statistic. The robust model fit indexes calculated in such a way are named as the population-corrected robust (PR) model fit indexes following Brosseau-Liard, Savalei, and Li (2012). The PR model fit indexes are currently reported in almost every application when WLSMV or ULSMV is used. Nevertheless, previous studies have found the PR model fit indexes from WLSMV are sensitive to several factors such as sample sizes, model sizes, and thresholds for categorization. The first focus of this dissertation is on the dependency of model fit indexes on the thresholds for ordered categorical data. Because the weight matrix in the WLSMV fit function and the correction factors for both WLSMV and ULSMV include the asymptotic variances of thresholds and polychoric correlations, the model fit indexes are very likely to depend on the thresholds. The dependency of model fit indexes on the thresholds is not a desirable property, because when the misspecification lies in the factor structures (e.g., cross loadings are ignored or two factors are considered as a single factor), model fit indexes should reflect such misspecification rather than the threshold values. As alternatives to the PR model fit indexes, Brosseau-Liard et al. (2012), Brosseau-Liard and Savalei (2014), and Li and Bentler (2006) proposed the sample-corrected robust (SR) model fit indexes. The PR fit indexes are found to converge to distorted asymptotic values, but the SR fit indexes converge to their definitions asymptotically. However, the SR model fit indexes were proposed for continuous data, and have been neither investigated nor implemented in SEM software when WLSMV and ULSMV are applied. This dissertation thus investigates the PR and SR model fit indexes for WLSMV and ULSMV. The first part of the simulation study examines the dependency of the model fit indexes on the thresholds when the model misspecification results from omitting cross-loadings or collapsing factors in confirmatory factor analysis. The study is conducted on extremely large computer-generated datasets in order to approximate the asymptotic values of model fit indexes. The results find that only the SR fit indexes from ULSMV are independent of the population threshold values, given the other design factors. The PR fit indexes from ULSMV, and the PR and SR fit indexes from WLSMV are influenced by thresholds, especially when data are binary and the hypothesized model is greatly misspecified. The second part of the simulation varies the sample sizes from 100 to 1000 to investigate whether the SR fit indexes under finite samples are more accurate estimates of the defined values of RMSEA, CFI, and TLI, compared with the uncorrected model fit indexes without robust correction and the PR fit indexes. Results show that the SR fit indexes are the more accurate in general. However, when the thresholds are different across items, data are binary, and sample size is less than 500, all versions of these indexes can be very inaccurate. In such situations, larger sample sizes are needed. In addition, the conventional cutoffs developed from continuous data with maximum likelihood (e.g., RMSEA < .06, CFI > .95, and TLI > .95; Hu & Bentler, 1999) have been applied to WLSMV and ULSMV regardless of the arguments against such a practice (e.g., Marsh, Hau, & Wen, 2004). For comparison purposes, this dissertation reports the RMSEA, CFI, and TLI based on continuous data using maximum likelihood before the variables are categorized to create ordered categorical data. Results show that the model fit indexes from maximum likelihood are very different from those from WLSMV and ULSMV, suggesting that the conventional rules should not be applied to WLSMV and ULSMV.
Model Fit Indexes, Ordered Categorical Data, Structural Equation Modeling, ULSMV, WLSMV
July 5, 2016.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Yanyun Yang, Professor Directing Dissertation; Fred W. Huffer, University Representative; Russell G. Almond, Committee Member; Betsy J. Becker, Committee Member; Insu Paek, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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