The latent variable approach as applied to transitive reasoning

S. Bouwmeester, J.K. Vermunt, K. Sijtsma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


We discuss the limitations of hypothesis testing using (quasi-) experiments in the study of cognitive development and suggest latent variable modeling as a viable alternative to experimentation. Latent variable models allow testing a theory as a whole, incorporating individual differences with respect to developmental processes or abilities in the model. Experiments, in contrast, aim at testing hypotheses that refer to a specific part of a theory; also they ignore individual differences or model the individual differences using age group as a proxy for developmental stage. Drawing on a sample of 409 5–13-year olds, we demonstrate the advantages of latent variable models in the area of transitive reasoning. A comparison of three models showed that the latent variable model that represented fuzzy trace theory had a better fit than the models representing Piaget's theory or linear ordering theory.
Keywords: Experimental design, Fuzzy trace theory, Latent variable modeling, Latent class model, Linear ordering theory, Transitive reasoning
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-180
JournalCognitive Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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