Mixture Factor Analysis for Approximating a Nonnormally Distributed Continuous Latent Factor With Continuous and Dichotomous Observed Variables

Multivariate Behavioral Research
Melanie M WallYasuo Amemiya


Mixture factor analysis is examined as a means of flexibly estimating nonnormally distributed continuous latent factors in the presence of both continuous and dichotomous observed variables. A simulation study compares mixture factor analysis with normal maximum likelihood (ML) latent factor modeling. Different results emerge for continuous versus dichotomous outcomes. For dichotomous outcomes, normal ML path estimates have bias that worsens as latent factor skew/kurtosis increases and does not diminish as sample size increases, whereas the mixture factor analysis model produces nearly unbiased estimators as sample sizes increase (500 and greater) and offers near nominal coverage probability. For continuous outcome variables, both methods produce factor loading estimates with minimal bias regardless of latent factor skew, but the mixture factor analysis is more efficient. The method is demonstrated using data motivated by a study on youth with cystic fibrosis examining predictors of treatment adherence. In summary, mixture factor analysis provides improvements over normal ML estimation in the presence of skewed/kurtotic latent factors, but due to variability in the estimator relating the latent factor to dichotomous outcomes an...Continue Reading


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