Is Small Still Beautiful for the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire? Novel Findings Using Exploratory Structural Equation Modeling
Garrido, Luis Eduardo
Barrada, Juan Ramón
Aguasvivas, José Armando
Arias, Víctor B.
Golino, Hudson F.
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Garrido, L. E., Barrada, J. R., Aguasvivas, J. A., Martínez-Molina, A., Arias, V. B., Golino, H. F., Legaz, E., Ferrís, G., & Rojo-Moreno, L. (2020). Is Small Still Beautiful for the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire? Novel Findings Using Exploratory Structural Equation Modeling. Assessment, 27(6), 1349–1367. https://doi.org/10.1177/1073191118780461
During the present decade a large body of research has employed confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to evaluate the factor structure of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) across multiple languages and cultures. However, because CFA can produce strongly biased estimations when the population cross-loadings differ meaningfully from zero, it may not be the most appropriate framework to model the SDQ responses. With this in mind, the current study sought to assess the factorial structure of the SDQ using the more flexible exploratory structural equation modeling approach. Using a large-scale Spanish sample composed of 67,253 youths aged between 10 and 18 years (M = 14.16, SD = 1.07), the results showed that CFA provided a severely biased and overly optimistic assessment of the underlying structure of the SDQ. In contrast, exploratory structural equation modeling revealed a generally weak factorial structure, including questionable indicators with large cross-loadings, multiple error correlations, and significant wording variance. A subsequent Monte Carlo study showed that sample sizes greater than 4,000 would be needed to adequately recover the SDQ loading structure. The findings from this study prevent recommending the SDQ as a screening tool and suggest caution when interpreting previous results in the literature based on CFA modeling.