USING LATENT PROFILE MODELS AND UNSTRUCTURED GROWTH MIXTURE MODELS TO ASSESS THE NUMBER OF LATENT CLASSES IN GROWTH MIXTURE MODELING
Hancock, Gregory R.
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Growth mixture modeling has gained much attention in applied and methodological social science research recently, but the selection of the number of latent classes for such models remains a challenging issue. This problem becomes more serious when one of the key assumptions of this model, proper model-specification is violated. The current simulation study compared the performance of a linear growth mixture model in determining the correct number of latent classes against two less parametrically restricted options, a latent profile model and an unstructured growth mixture model. A variety of conditions were examined, both for properly and improperly specified models. Results indicate that prior to the application of linear growth mixture model, the unstructured growth mixture model is a promising way to identify the correct number of unobserved groups underlying the data by using most model fit indices across all the conditions investigated in this study.