Normal theory based test statistics in structural equation modelling

K H Yuan, P M Bentler
British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology 1998, 51 ( Pt 2): 289-309
Even though data sets in psychology are seldom normal, the statistics used to evaluate covariance structure models are typically based on the assumption of multivariate normality. Consequently, many conclusions based on normal theory methods are suspect. In this paper, we develop test statistics that can be correctly applied to the normal theory maximum likelihood estimator. We propose three new asymptotically distribution-free (ADF) test statistics that technically must yield improved behaviour in samples of realistic size, and use Monte Carlo methods to study their actual finite sample behaviour. Results indicate that there exists an ADF test statistic that also performs quite well in finite sample situations. Our analysis shows that various forms of ADF test statistics are sensitive to model degrees of freedom rather than to model complexity. A new index is proposed for evaluating whether a rescaled statistic will be robust. Recommendations are given regarding the application of each test statistic.

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