Bifactor Models for Predicting Criteria by General and Specific Factors: Problems of Nonidentifiability and Alternative Solutions

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The bifactor model is a widely applied model to analyze general and specific abilities. Extensions of bifactor models additionally include criterion variables. In such extended bifactor models, the general and specific factors can be correlated with criterion variables. Moreover, the influence of general and specific factors on criterion variables can be scrutinized in latent multiple regression models that are built on bifactor measurement models. This study employs an extended bifactor model to predict mathematics and English grades by three facets of intelligence (number series, verbal analogies, and unfolding). We show that, if the observed variables do not differ in their loadings, extended bifactor models are not identified and not applicable. Moreover, we reveal that standard errors of regression weights in extended bifactor models can be very large and, thus, lead to invalid conclusions. A formal proof of the nonidentification is presented. Subsequently, we suggest alternative approaches for predicting criterion variables by general and specific factors. In particular, we illustrate how (1) composite ability factors can be defined in extended first-order factor models and (2) how bifactor(S-1) models can be applied. The differences between first-order factor models and bifactor(S-1) models for predicting criterion variables are discussed in detail and illustrated with the empirical example.
Original languageEnglish
Article number42
Issue number3
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 07.09.2018