Structural equation modeling

Course summary

The workshop is designed to provide scholars an overview of structural equation modeling (SEM). Special attention is given to the translation of theoretical expectations into SEM, the interpretation of results in SEM analyses and the general use and misuse of SEM in the social sciences. While the workshop is predominantly designed to give you the knowledge of SEM we start with a quick introduction of necessary foundations like correlations, covariances, regression and factor analysis and their relevance to structural equation models. Subsequent SEM applications include path models, confirmatory factor analyses and structural equation models including specialized models going beyond SEM basics (as needed for the research applications of participants). Beyond a review and overview of SEM, the workshop is to offer hands-on support for the structural equation models participants plan to run for their own research. The point of the workshop is to workshop these ideas, these models. While it is possible to simply join to learn about SEM, to maximally benefit from the workshop, participants should come with specific data and research applications in mind.

Format and activities

The course is a workshop, and therefore also include extensive discussions, tweaking and presentations of your own models. To get the most out of the course, come with your own modeling ideas and planned applications that we can turn into actual analyses during the week. Be ready to present the premise of your research already on the first day.

Learning outcomes: After the workshop, participants will have a solid foundation SEM and its applications, will be able to critically assess SEM and also have the ability to independently discover and master advanced SEM statistical topics. Participants will be able to critically assess the appropriateness of such techniques in their own and other people’s research and conduct SEModeling themselves to the highest academic standards. Additionally, participants will receive hands-on support with their specific research ideas or concrete modeling applications.

Prerequisite Knowledge

The workshop is designed for researchers with some prior statistical training. Anyone registering should be an experienced user of regression, know the basics of inferential statistics and should have heard of (exploratory) factor analysis, at least at the informed consumer level. Ideally participants should have some foundations in SEM, be it self-taught or attempts to use it to run models. It would be extremely helpful to have basic functional knowledge of R. At minimum you should know how to manage files in R, install and load packages, load data and run basic analytical commands. I am not proud of it but for years I did my data cleaning in SPSS and when I needed to, I loaded the clean data in R and ran whatever I needed to run. If you can install R [and RStudio], know how to load data and run basic things like the lm command for linear regression, even if you do a google search before every line of code, you are ready for this workshop. If not, please get there before we begin. It is not much. You can do it. Please bring your computers with R and Lavaan installed. RStudio highly recommended unless you have an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) you prefer.

About the instructor

Levente Littvay (Levi) is Professor at Central European University’s Department of Political Science in Vienna, Austria and Democracy Institute in Budapest, Hungary. He researches survey and quantitative methodology, and the psychology of radicalism and populism and teaches graduate courses in research design, applied statistics, electoral politics, voting behavior, political psychology, and American politics. Inaugural recipient of CEU's Distinguished Teaching Award (2015, for methods teaching), of CEU's Teaching excellence award (2021, for online teaching), Morton Deutsch award for best article in Social Justice Research (2017) and EUI's Fernand Braudel Senior Fellowship (2019-2020). Academic Coordinator of MetodsNET (previously also academic convenor of ECPR's methods schools 2015-2021). He heads Team Survey of Team Populism and is a member of the ESS Round 10 Democracy and COVID questionnaire design teams. Recent books include Multilevel Structural Equation Modeling, and Contemporary US Populism in Comparative Perspective.