Measurement error and person-specific reliability in multilevel autoregressive models

Noémi Schuurman*, E. L. Hamaker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


An increasing number of researchers in psychology are collecting intensive longitudinal data in order to study psychological processes on an intraindividual level. An increasingly popular way to analyze these data is autoregressive time series modeling; either by modeling the repeated measures for a single individual using classic n = 1 autoregressive models, or by using multilevel extensions of these models, with the dynamics for each individual modeled at Level 1 and interindividual differences in these dynamics modeled at Level 2. However, while it is widely accepted in psychology that psychological measurements usually contain a certain amount of measurement error, the issue of measurement error is largely neglected in applied psychological (autoregressive) time series modeling: The regular autoregressive model incorporates innovations, or “dynamic errors,” but not measurement error. In this article we discuss the concepts of reliability and measurement error in the context of dynamic (VAR(1)) models, and the consequences of disregarding measurement error variance in the data. For this purpose, we present a preliminary model that accounts for measurement error for constructs that are measured with a single indicator. We further discuss how this model could be used to investigate the between-person reliability of the measurements, as well as the (person-specific) within-person reliabilities and any individual differences in these reliabilities. We illustrate the consequences of assuming perfect reliability, the preliminary model, and reliabilities, using an empirical application in which we relate women’s general positive affect to their positive affect concerning their romantic relationship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-91
JournalPsychological Methods
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • autoregressive modeling
  • intensive longitudinal data
  • measurement error
  • reliability
  • time series analysis


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