How to compare psychometric factor and network models

Kees Jan Kan, Hannelies De Jonge, Han L.J. Van Der Maas, Stephen Z. Levine, Sacha Epskamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In memory of Dr. Dennis John McFarland, who passed away recently, our objective is to continue his efforts to compare psychometric networks and latent variable models statistically. We do so by providing a commentary on his latest work, which he encouraged us to write, shortly before his death. We first discuss the statistical procedure McFarland used, which involved structural equation modeling (SEM) in standard SEM software. Next, we evaluate the penta-factor model of intelligence. We conclude that (1) standard SEM software is not suitable for the comparison of psychometric networks with latent variable models, and (2) the penta-factor model of intelligence is only of limited value, as it is nonidentified. We conclude with a reanalysis of theWechlser Adult Intelligence Scale data McFarland discussed and illustrate how network and latent variable models can be compared using the recently developed R package Psychonetrics. Of substantive theoretical interest, the results support a network interpretation of general intelligence. A novel empirical finding is that networks of intelligence replicate over standardization samples.

Original languageEnglish
Article number35
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Intelligence
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: Sacha Epskamp is funded by the NWO Veni grant number 016-195-261.

Funding Information:
Sacha Epskamp is funded by the NWO Veni grant number 016-195-261. As members of the scientific community studying intelligence, we thank McFarland for his contributions to our field. We thank Eiko Fried for bringing McFarland (2020) to our attention. We thank Denny Borsboom, Eiko Fried, Mijke Rhemtulla, and Riet van Bork for sharing their thoughts on the subject. We thank our reviewers for their valuable comments and so for the improvement of our manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Factor analysis
  • Intelligence
  • Latent variable modeling
  • Model comparison
  • Psychometric network analysis
  • Replicating networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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