Interpretational Confounding or Confounded Interpretations of Causal Indicators?

Sierra A. Bainter, Kenneth A. Bollen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


In measurement theory, causal indicators are controversial and little understood. Methodological disagreement concerning causal indicators has centered on the question of whether causal indicators are inherently sensitive to interpretational confounding, which occurs when the empirical meaning of a latent construct departs from the meaning intended by a researcher. This article questions the validity of evidence used to claim that causal indicators are inherently susceptible to interpretational confounding. Further, a simulation study demonstrates that causal indicator coefficients are stable across correctly specified models. Determining the suitability of causal indicators has implications for the way we conceptualize measurement and build and evaluate measurement models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-140
Number of pages16
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • causal indicators
  • formative measurement
  • latent variables
  • measurement
  • structural equation modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Education
  • Applied Mathematics


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