Evaluating WAIS–IV structure through a different psychometric lens: structural causal model discovery as an alternative to confirmatory factor analysis
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Objective: Since the publication of the WAIS–IV in the U.S. in 2008, efforts have been made to explore the structural validity by applying factor analysis to various samples. This study aims to achieve a more fine-grained understanding of the structure of the Dutch language version of the WAIS–IV (WAIS–IV–NL) by applying an alternative analysis based on causal modeling in addition to confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). The Bayesian Constraint-based Causal Discovery (BCCD) algorithm learns underlying network structures directly from data and assesses more complex structures than is possible with factor analysis. Method: WAIS–IV–NL profiles of two clinical samples of 202 patients (i.e. patients with temporal lobe epilepsy and a mixed psychiatric outpatient group) were analyzed and contrasted with a matched control group (N = 202) selected from the Dutch standardization sample of the WAIS–IV–NL to investigate internal structure by means of CFA and BCCD. Results: With CFA, the four-factor structure as proposed by Wechsler demonstrates acceptable fit in all three subsamples. However, BCCD revealed three consistent clusters (verbal comprehension, visual processing, and processing speed) in all three subsamples. The combination of Arithmetic and Digit Span as a coherent working memory factor could not be verified, and Matrix Reasoning appeared to be isolated. Conclusions: With BCCD, some discrepancies from the proposed four-factor structure are exemplified. Furthermore, these results fit CHC theory of intelligence more clearly. Consistent clustering patterns indicate these results are robust. The structural causal discovery approach may be helpful in better interpreting existing tests, the development of new tests, and aid in diagnostic instruments.