Using Mixture Regression to Identify Varying Effects: A Demonstration With Paternal Incarceration

W. Justin Dyer, Joseph Pleck, Brent McBride

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The most widely used techniques for identifying the varying effects of stressors involve testing moderator effects via interaction terms in regression or multiple-group analysis in structural equation modeling. The authors present mixture regression as an alternative approach. In contrast to more widely used approaches, mixture regression identifies varying effects without reliance on tests of moderator variables, such as using interaction terms or multiple group analyses. In many instances, the use of mixture regression also more effectively tests higher order and multiple interactions. A mixture regression example is presented using 214 families from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study, half of whom had experienced paternal incarceration. Whereas typical regression and moderator analyses fail to find an effect or varying effects, mixture regression identified 4 classes uniquely influenced by the incarceration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1129-1148
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012


  • Families
  • Incarceration
  • Mixture regression
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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