Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - MODEL SELECTION (Application of Model Selection Principles to Distinguish Network and Latent Variable Models of Psychological Constructs)

A new framework for modeling psychological constructs is to represent them as networks: webs of interacting components (e.g., symptoms or items) that affect each other directly. This approach is radically different from the dominant modeling framework within psychology, which is to represent constructs as latent, unobservable constructs which are responsible for the (co-)variation in observed items or symptoms. As the network modeling approach becomes more common, it is increasingly relevant to ask whether and how these two frameworks can be distinguished for a given psychological construct. Supported by the Marie Curie Career Integration Grant, “MODEL SELECTION”, my research has made substantial progress in developing and studying such methods.
Establishment of Working Group. Thanks to the support of the CIG, I have been able to hire a PhD student, Riet van Bork, who is working solely on this project. In the 15 months since she began, she has already presented her research at a prestigious international conference, submitted 2 papers, and is readying a third for submission.
Research Progress. The grant proposal was structured in terms of 3 main objectives. The first objective is to explore the theoretical implications of network vs. latent variable models that could be used to discriminate between them. In line with this objective, I’ve (co-)authored two articles in high-impact journals that explore the implications of network modeling in the context of a particular construct and dataset (quality of life and substance abuse), and a theoretical paper capturing this objective is in preparation. An extension of Objective 1 was to develop a hybrid framework that includes latent variables within a network structure; this extension has been fully developed and is under revision.
The second objective is to develop and study empirical data-based tests for discovering whether the true underlying model is a network or a latent variable structure. This objective has been the focus of Ms. van Bork’s research; she has developed two such tests and studied their performance via Monte Carlo simulations. Also toward this objective, I have done initial research on a second avenue within this research objective, which is to study whether existing latent variable model fit statistics can identify when the true population structure is a network.
The third objective is to use the relations between elements of a construct and external criteria (predictors and outcomes) to determine which framework is most appropriate. This objective has produced one collaborative paper investigating how network models can clarify the relation between conscientiousness and its correlates. This objective will be the primary focus of the remaining period of the grant.
Dissemination. In the initial 2 years of the grant I have published 6 papers in high-impact journals with several others ready for submission or under review, and two papers have been presented at international conferences.
Career Prospects. The success of this project has allowed me to gain a permanent position as Assistant Professor at the University of Amsterdam.


Jan Jacob Sikkema, (project controller)
Tel.: +31 0205257407


Life Sciences
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