Fast Bayesian Estimation for the Four-Parameter Logistic Model (4PLM)

Chanjin Zheng, Shaoyang Guo, Justin L. Kern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a rekindled interest in the four-parameter logistic item response model (4PLM) after three decades of neglect among the psychometrics community. Recent breakthroughs in item calibration include the Gibbs sampler specially made for 4PLM and the Bayes modal estimation (BME) method as implemented in the R package mirt. Unfortunately, the MCMC is often time-consuming, while the BME method suffers from instability due to the prior settings. This paper proposes an alternative BME method, the Bayesian Expectation-Maximization-Maximization-Maximization (BE3M) method, which is developed from by combining an augmented variable formulation of the 4PLM and a mixture model conceptualization of the 3PLM. The simulation shows that the BE3M can produce estimates as accurately as the Gibbs sampling method and as fast as the EM algorithm. A real data example is also provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSAGE Open
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021


  • 4PLM
  • BE3M
  • BME
  • Gibbs sampler
  • mixture modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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