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Behav Res Methods. 2019 Mar 28. doi: 10.3758/s13428-019-01229-x. [Epub ahead of print]

A heteroscedastic hidden Markov mixture model for responses and categorized response times.

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Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA.
ACTNext, Iowa City, IA, USA.


Various mixture modeling approaches have been proposed to identify within-subjects differences in the psychological processes underlying responses to psychometric tests. Although valuable, the existing mixture models are associated with at least one of the following three challenges: (1) A parametric distribution is assumed for the response times that-if violated-may bias the results; (2) the response processes are assumed to result in equal variances (homoscedasticity) in the response times, whereas some processes may produce more variability than others (heteroscedasticity); and (3) the different response processes are modeled as independent latent variables, whereas they may be related. Although each of these challenges has been addressed separately, in practice they may occur simultaneously. Therefore, we propose a heteroscedastic hidden Markov mixture model for responses and categorized response times that addresses all the challenges above in a single model. In a simulation study, we demonstrated that the model is associated with acceptable parameter recovery and acceptable resolution to distinguish between various special cases. In addition, the model was applied to the responses and response times of the WAIS-IV block design subtest, to demonstrate its use in practice.


Hidden Markov models; Item response theory; Mixture models; Response times


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