Can Genetics Help Psychometrics? Improving Dimensionality Assessment Through Genetic Factor Modeling

S. Franic, C.V. Dolan, D. Borsboom, J.J. Hudziak, C.E.M. van Beijsterveldt, D.I. Boomsma

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In the present article, we discuss the role that quantitative genetic methodology may play in assessing and understanding the dimensionality of psychological (psychometric) instruments. Specifically, we study the relationship between the observed covariance structures, on the one hand, and the underlying genetic and environmental influences giving rise to such structures, on the other. We note that this relationship may be such that it hampers obtaining a clear estimate of dimensionality using standard tools for dimensionality assessment alone. One situation in which dimensionality assessment may be impeded is that in which genetic and environmental influences, of which the observed covariance structure is a function, differ from each other in structure and dimensionality. We demonstrate that in such situations settling dimensionality issues may be problematic, and propose using quantitative genetic modeling to uncover the (possibly different) dimensionalities of the underlying genetic and environmental structures. We illustrate using simulations and an empirical example on childhood internalizing problems. © 2013 American Psychological Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-433
JournalPsychological Methods
Issue number3
Early online date8 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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