Welcome to Illinois State University’s Latent Modeling User’s Group. In statistics, latent variables (as opposed to observable variables) are variables that are not directly observed but are rather inferred (through a mathematical model) from other variables that are observed (directly measured). Latent variables are ubiquitous in social science research. Latent variable analyses (LVA) involve the statistical methods to assess latent variable models.
This group formed in 2018 as the result of a cross-disciplinary, grassroots effort by ISU faculty from a multitude of social science disciplines. One popular means to model latent variables in social science models is with structural equation modeling (SEM). While several software packages are available for this purpose, Mplus (http://www.statmodel.com/) is among the most powerful and popular across disciplines. This group emphasizes, but does not limit itself, to the use of Mplus. The resources associated with this user group are currently restricted to tenure-track faculty at ISU .
The purpose of this group is to provide a mechanism through which to (1) enhance faculty understanding of the theory, practice, and benefits of LVA, (2) reduce the learning curve associated with conducting LVA, and (3) encourage and facilitate collaborative, interdisciplinary LVA research.
What Can This User’s Group Do for You?
There are a variety of ways that faculty interested in LVA can access the resources of this user’s group.
Learn More About LVA - For those interested in learning more about LVA, we have created a series of accessible PowerPoint presentations that review and summarize the current literature related to topics within LVA. These presentations emphasize the practice of LVA, and minimize the mathematical equations associated with such analyses (although sources are identified for those who are more comfortable with equations). To date, we have created and presented seven (7) two-hour presentations, including:
Module 1 – Introduction to Structural Equation Modeling (SEM)
Module 2 – Introduction to the Mplus Software Method of SEM
Module 3 – Regression Analysis using SEM
Module 4 – Latent Model Measurement: Part 1
Module 5 – Latent Model Measurement: Part 2
Module 6 – Introduction to Mediation/Moderation Analyses
Module 7 – Introduction to Latent Growth Modules
These presentations and supporting files (including examples with data) are available on our Mplus User’s Group Microsoft Team site. For ISU faculty members wishing access to these materials, please send a request using the form below. Access to experienced faculty are also available through the Microsoft Team to help answer questions that arise about LVA.
Access to Experienced Collaborators - Many experienced members of this user’s group are willing to collaborate as part of interdisciplinary teams in support of our stated group purpose above. If you are looking for a research collaborator for a scholarly project involving LVA, send a request using the form below with a brief description of the skill set you are looking for and we will endeavor to find a potential collaborator for your research project.
Access to the Mplus Software – The Department of Marketing has generously funded a current, full copy of Mplus on a laptop that can be checked out by user group members faculty.
How Do I Get Further Information?
Please use the form below for questions or to learn more. If you would instead prefer to contact a user group member directly, please contact Distinguished Professor Steve Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.