Causal inference

Causal inference is at the heart of many questions in social sciences, yet the study of it is in some sense still a novel and currently thriving field. In our lab we draw on the classic Campbellian tradition, the potential outcomes framework, and causal graphical models. In particular we work on extending methods of propensity score matching to complex data situations and improve model testing in causal graphical models.

Missing data

Missing data are a prevalent problem in nearly all studies conducted in psychology, education, and other fields. Principled methods to deal with missing data are slowly being adapted by these fields. However, there are still a host of unresolved issues concerning selection of so-called auxiliary variables, or methods to deal with missing data in complex data analytic situations, e.g. those involving clustered data or latent heterogeneity.

Structural equation models

Structural equation modeling is a flexible statistical tool to model (among other things) latent factors and direct and indirect effects. Recently there has been more interest in the causal underpinning of such models, in particular the causal assumptions involving indirect effects. Our lab researches methods that strengthen causal conclusions of such models in the presence of causal heterogeneity. Furthermore, we are interested in exploring rigorous tests of models that allow eliminating alternative causal pathways.


Selected publications last updated May 2015

(see full publication list here)

Thoemmes, F. (2015). Reversing arrows in mediation models does not distinguish plausible models. Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 37, 226-234. pdf

Thoemmes, F., & Mohan, K. (in press). Graphical models for missing data. Structural Equation Modeling: An Interdisciplinary Journal. pdf

Thoemmes, F.(in press). Empirical tests of directional dependence. International Journal of Behavioral Development.

West, S.G., & Thoemmes, F. (in press). Campbell's and Rubin's perspectives on causal Inference. In H. T. Reis (Ed.), Methodological Innovations in Social Psychology. SAGE: Los Angeles.

West, S., Cham, H., & Thoemmes, F. (in press). Propensity scores. In: Encyclopedia of Clinical Psychology. pdf

Parker, P., Thoemmes, F., & Salmena-Aro, K. (2015). I wish I had (not) taken a gap-year? The psychological and attainment outcomes of different post-school pathways. Developmental Psychology, 51, 323-333.

Braver, S., Thoemmes, F., & Rosenthal, B. (2014). Cumulative meta-analysis and replicability. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 9(3), 333-342. pdf

Thoemmes, F., & Rose, N. (2014). A cautious note on auxiliary variables that can increase bias in missing data problems. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 49 (5), 443-459. pdf

Mayer, A., Thoemmes, F., Rose, N., Steyer, R., & West, S.G. (2014). Theory and analysis of total, direct, and indirect causal effects.Multivariate Behavioral Research, 49 (5), 425-442. pdf

West, S., Cham, H., Thoemmes, F., Renneberg, B., Weiler, M., Schulze, J. (2014). Propensity scores for equating groups: Basic principles and application in clinical treatment outcome research. Journal of Clinical and Counseling Psychology, 82 (5), 906-915. pdf

Jonkmann, K., Thoemmes, F., Lüdtke, O., & Trautwein, U. (2014). Personality trait development in young adulthood: The role of living arrangements. Developmental Psychology, 50(3), 683-698. pdf

Tofighi, D., & Thoemmes, F. (2014). Single-level and multilevel mediation analysis. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 34(1), 93-119.pdf

Mabry, L., Elliot, D.L., Kuehl, K.S., Kuehl, H., Moe, E.L., Goldberg, L., DeFrancesco, C.A., MacKinnon, D.P., Favorite, K.C., & Thoemmes, F.(2014). Adult health education in the workplace:  The adoption, benefits, and durability of PHLAME. Proceedings of the Ireland International Conference on Education, Dublin, IR.

Steiner, P. M., Kim, J.-S., & Thoemmes, F. (2013). Matching strategies for observational multilevel data. In JSM Proceedings. Alexandria, VA:
American Statistical Association. 5020-5032.

Mabry, L., Elliot, D., MacKinnon, D., Thoemmes, F., & Kuehl, K. (2013). Understanding the durability of a fire department wellness program. American Journal of Health Behavior, 37 (5), 693-702. pdf

Zettler, I., Kramer, J., Thoemmes, F., Nagy, G., & Trautwein, U. (2013). Different types of universities and early career success: An exploratory investigation. (Welchen Einfluss hat der Besuch unterschiedlicher Hochschultypen auf den frühen beruflichen Erfolg? Eine explorative Untersuchung). Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie, 27 (1), 51-62. pdf

Thoemmes, F. (2012). Propensity score matching in SPSS. arXiv:1201.6385. pdf


Finan, P., Tennen, H., Thoemmes, F., Zautra, A., & Davis, M. (2012).Ambulatory monitoring in the genetics of psychosomatic medicine.Psychsomatic Medicine, 74(4), 349-355. pdf

Jackson, J., Thoemmes, F., Jonkmann, K., Lüdtke, O., & Trautwein, U.(2012). Military training and personality trait development: Does the military make the man or does the man make the military? Psychological Science, 23(3), 270-277. pdf

Thoemmes, F., & Kim, E.S. (2011). A systematic review of propensity score methods in the social sciences. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 46, 90-118. pdf

Thoemmes, F. (2011). Comparison of Selected Causality Theories. (Ausgewählte Kausalitätstheorien im Vergleich.) Das Gesundheitswesen, 73, 880-883. pdf

Thoemmes, F., & West, S.G. (2011). The use of propensity scores for non-randomized designs with clustered data. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 46, 514-543. pdf

Clemens, N., Shapiro, E., & Thoemmes, F. (2011). Improving the efficacy of first grade reading screening: An investigation of word identification fluency with other early literacy indicators. School Psychology Quarterly, 26(3), 231-244. pdf

Liew, J., Johnson, A.Y., Smith, T.R.,& Thoemmes, F. (2011). Parental expressivity, child psychological and behavioral regulation, and child adjustment: Testing a three-path mediation model, Early Education and Development, 22(4), 549-573. pdf

West, S.G., & Thoemmes, F. (2010). Campbell’s and Rubin’s perspectives on causal Inference. Psychological Methods, 15(1), 18-37. pdf

Thoemmes, F., Reiser, M.R., & MacKinnon, D.P. (2010). Power for complex meditational designs using Monte Carlo Methods. Structural Equation Modeling, 17(3), 510-534. pdf

Hughes, J., Chen, Q., Thoemmes, F.,& Kwok, O. (2010). An investigation of the relationship between retention in first grade and performance on high stakes tests in 3rd grade. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 32(2), 166-182. pdf Most read article in Educational and Policy Analysis in 2010/2011.

MacKinnon, D.P., Elliot, D., Thoemmes, F., Kuehl, K., Moe, E., Goldberg, L., Lockhart Burrel, G., & Ranby, K. (2010). Longterm effects of a firefighter social influence and motivational interviewing health promotion program: The PHLAME (Promoting Healthy Lifestyles: Alternative Models' Effects) Program. American Journal of Public Health, 34(6), 695-706. pdf

Burrel, G., Thoemmes, F., & MacKinnon, D.P. (2010). Graphical assessment of regression to the mean: The Galton Squeeze Plot. SAS GLOBAL USER FORUM 2010 Proceedings, 271. pdf

West, S.G., Thoemmes, F., & Wu, W. (2010). Book Review: Introduction to structural equation modeling: Using SPSS and AMOS, be Neils, J. Blunch. Applied Psychological Measurement, 34(3), 211-213.

Braver, S., Thoemmes, F., & Moser, S. (2010). Odds ratio. In N. Salkind. Encyclopedia of research design. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Braver, S., Thoemmes, F., & Moser, S. (2010). Random assignment. In N. Salkind. Encyclopedia of research design. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Thoemmes, F., West, S.G., & Hill, E. (2009). Abstract: A meta-analysis of randomized and quasi-experimental drug prevention programs. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 44 (6), 854. pdf

Cohen, A.B., Malka, A., Hill, E.D., Thoemmes, F., Hill, P.C., & Sundie, J.M.(2009). Race as a moderator of the relationship between religiosity and political alignment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 271-282. pdf

Conway, L.G.,III., Thoemmes, F., Allison, A.M., Hands Towgood, K., Wagner, M.J., Davey, K., Salcido, A. Stovall, A.N., Dodds, D.P., Bongard, K., & Conway, K.R. (2008). Two ways to be complex and why they matter: Implications for attitude strenght and lying. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 1029-1044. pdf

West, S.G., & Thoemmes, F. (2008). Equating Groups. In P. Alasuutari, L. Bickman, & J. Brannen. The SAGE handbook of social research methods. London: SAGE. pdf

Thoemmes, F. & Conway, L. (2007). Integrative complexity of 41 U.S.presidents. Political Psychology, 28, 193-226. pdf