Multilevel Latent Differential Structural Equation Model with Short Time Series and Time-Varying Covariates: A Comparison of Frequentist and Bayesian Estimators

Young Won Cho, Sy Miin Chow, Christina M. Marini, Lynn M. Martire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Continuous-time modeling using differential equations is a promising technique to model change processes with longitudinal data. Among ways to fit this model, the Latent Differential Structural Equation Modeling (LDSEM) approach defines latent derivative variables within a structural equation modeling (SEM) framework, thereby allowing researchers to leverage advantages of the SEM framework for model building, estimation, inference, and comparison purposes. Still, a few issues remain unresolved, including performance of multilevel variations of the LDSEM under short time lengths (e.g., 14 time points), particularly when coupled multivariate processes and time-varying covariates are involved. Additionally, the possibility of using Bayesian estimation to facilitate the estimation of multilevel LDSEM (M-LDSEM) models with complex and higher-dimensional random effect structures has not been investigated. We present a series of Monte Carlo simulations to evaluate three possible approaches to fitting M-LDSEM, including: frequentist single-level and two-level robust estimators and Bayesian two-level estimator. Our findings suggested that the Bayesian approach outperformed other frequentist approaches. The effects of time-varying covariates are well recovered, and coupling parameters are the least biased especially using higher-order derivative information with the Bayesian estimator. Finally, an empirical example is provided to show the applicability of the approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMultivariate Behavioral Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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