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Local Solutions in the Estimation of Growth Mixture Models


Psychological Methods Volume 11, Number 1, ISSN 1082-989X


Finite mixture models are well known to have poorly behaved likelihood functions featuring singularities and multiple optima. Growth mixture models may suffer from fewer of these problems, potentially benefiting from the structure imposed on the estimated class means and covariances by the specified growth model. As demonstrated here, however, local solutions may still be problematic. Results from an empirical case study and a small Monte Carlo simulation show that failure to thoroughly consider the possible presence of local optima in the estimation of a growth mixture model can sometimes have serious consequences, possibly leading to adoption of an inferior solution that differs in substantively important ways from the actual maximum likelihood solution. Often, the defaults of current software need to be overridden to thoroughly evaluate the parameter space and obtain confidence that the maximum likelihood solution has in fact been obtained.


Hipp, J.R. & Bauer, D.J. (2006). Local Solutions in the Estimation of Growth Mixture Models. Psychological Methods, 11(1), 36-53. Retrieved September 30, 2022 from .

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