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Implications of Absence of Measurement Invariance for Detecting Sex Limitation and Genotype by Environment Interaction

  • Gitta H. Lubke (a1), Conor V. Dolan (a2) and Michael C. Neale (a3)

Abstract

Using univariate sum scores in genetic studies of twin data is common practice. This practice precludes an investigation of the measurement model relating the individual items to an underlying factor. Absence of measurement invariance across a grouping variable such as gender or environmental exposure refers to group differences with respect to the measurement model. It is shown that a decomposition of a sum score into genetic and environmental variance components leads to path coefficients of the additive genetic factor that are biased differentially across groups if individual items are non-invariant. The arising group differences in path coefficients are identical to what is known as “scalar sex limitation” when gender is the grouping variable, or as “gene by environment interaction” when environmental exposure is the grouping variable. In both cases the interpretation would be in terms of a group-specific effect size of the genetic factor. This interpretation may be incorrect if individual items are non-invariant.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: Gitta H. Lubke, Virginia Institute of Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, 800 East Leigh St. Suite 1–115, Richmond VA 23219-1534, USA.

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