A nonlinear mixed model framework for item response theory

Psychol Methods. 2003 Jun;8(2):185-205. doi: 10.1037/1082-989x.8.2.185.


Mixed models take the dependency between observations based on the same cluster into account by introducing 1 or more random effects. Common item response theory (IRT) models introduce latent person variables to model the dependence between responses of the same participant. Assuming a distribution for the latent variables, these IRT models are formally equivalent with nonlinear mixed models. It is shown how a variety of IRT models can be formulated as particular instances of nonlinear mixed models. The unifying framework offers the advantage that relations between different IRT models become explicit and that it is rather straightforward to see how existing IRT models can be adapted and extended. The approach is illustrated with a self-report study on anger.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anger
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models*
  • Mathematics
  • Models, Statistical
  • Nonlinear Dynamics*
  • Psychometrics*
  • Software