This book describes a family of statistical methods known as structural equation modeling (SEM). SEM is used in a variety of techniques known as “covariance structure analysis”, “latent variable modeling”, “path modeling”, “path modeling with LISREL”, and sometimes it is mistaken for path analysis. This book will help biologists to understand the distinction between SEM and path analysis. The book consists of contributed chapters from biologists as well as leading methodologists in other research fields. We have organized the chapters and their content with the intent of providing a volume that readers may use to learn the methodology and apply it themselves to their research problems. We give the basic formulation of the method as well as technical details on data analysis, interpretation, and reporting. In addition, we provide numerous examples of research designs and applications that are germane to the research needs and interests of organismal biologists. We also provide, as a learning aide, the simulation programs, analysis programs, and data matrices, presented in the book at a website (http://www.usgs.gov/) so that readers may download and run them.
The book is divided into three sections. The first section, “Theory”, describes the SEM model and practical matters of its application. Chapter 1 lays out the mathematics of SEM in a comprehensible fashion. Using an example from behavioral genetics, the authors express their model in what is called LISREL notation, a symbolic language that is commonly used to express SEM models.