Evaluation of the Bayesian and Maximum Likelihood Approaches in Analyzing Structural Equation Models with Small Sample Sizes

Multivariate Behav Res. 2004 Oct 1;39(4):653-86. doi: 10.1207/s15327906mbr3904_4.


The main objective of this article is to investigate the empirical performances of the Bayesian approach in analyzing structural equation models with small sample sizes. The traditional maximum likelihood (ML) is also included for comparison. In the context of a confirmatory factor analysis model and a structural equation model, simulation studies are conducted with the different magnitudes of parameters and sample sizes n = da, where d = 2, 3, 4 and 5, and a is the number of unknown parameters. The performances are evaluated in terms of the goodness-of-fit statistics, and various measures on the accuracy of the estimates. The conclusion is: for data that are normally distributed, the Bayesian approach can be used with small sample sizes, whilst ML cannot.