Repeated Measures Correlation

Front Psychol. 2017 Apr 7;8:456. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00456. eCollection 2017.


Repeated measures correlation (rmcorr) is a statistical technique for determining the common within-individual association for paired measures assessed on two or more occasions for multiple individuals. Simple regression/correlation is often applied to non-independent observations or aggregated data; this may produce biased, specious results due to violation of independence and/or differing patterns between-participants versus within-participants. Unlike simple regression/correlation, rmcorr does not violate the assumption of independence of observations. Also, rmcorr tends to have much greater statistical power because neither averaging nor aggregation is necessary for an intra-individual research question. Rmcorr estimates the common regression slope, the association shared among individuals. To make rmcorr accessible, we provide background information for its assumptions and equations, visualization, power, and tradeoffs with rmcorr compared to multilevel modeling. We introduce the R package (rmcorr) and demonstrate its use for inferential statistics and visualization with two example datasets. The examples are used to illustrate research questions at different levels of analysis, intra-individual, and inter-individual. Rmcorr is well-suited for research questions regarding the common linear association in paired repeated measures data. All results are fully reproducible.

Keywords: correlation; individual differences; intra-individual; multilevel modeling; repeated measures; statistical power.