Conditional covariance structure of generalized compensatory multidimensional items

Jinming Zhang, William Stout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Some nonparametric dimensionality assessment procedures, such as DIMTEST and DETECT, use nonparametric estimates of item pair conditional covariances given an appropriately chosen suhtcst score as their basic building blocks. Such conditional covariances given some subtest score can be regarded as an approximation to the conditional covariances given an appropriately chosen unidimensional latent composite, where the composite is oriented in the multidimensional test space direction in which the subtest score measures best. In this paper, the structure and properties of such item pair conditional covariances given a unidimensional latent composite are thoroughly investigated, assuming a semiparametric IRT modeling framework called a generalized compensatory model. It is shown that such conditional covariances are highly informative about the multidimensionality structure of a test. The theory developed here is very useful in establishing properties of dimensionality assessment procedures, current and yet to be developed, that are based upon estimating such conditional covariances. In particular, the new theory is used to justify the DIMTEST procedure. Because of the importance of conditional covariance estimation, a new bias reducing approach is presented. A byproduct of likely independent importance beyond the study of conditional covariances is a rigorous score information based definition of an item's and a score's direction of best measurement in the multidimensional test space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-152
Number of pages24
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Conditional covariance
  • Dimensionality
  • Generalized compensatory model
  • Information
  • Item response theory
  • Multidimensional critical ratio function
  • Multidimensionality
  • Test space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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