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Curran, Patrick J.; Bollen, Kenneth A.; Chen, Feinian; Paxton, Pamela M.; & Kirby, James B. (2003). Finite Sampling Properties of the Point Estimates and Confidence Intervals of the RMSEA. Sociological Methods & Research, 32(2), 208-252.


A key advantage of the root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA) is that under certain assumptions, the sample estimate has a known sampling distribution that allows for the computation of confidence intervals. However, little is known about the finite sampling behaviors of this measure under violations of these ideal asymptotic conditions. This information is critical for developing optimal criteria for using the RMSEA to evaluate model fit in practice. Using data generated from a computer simulation study, the authors empirically tested a set of theoretically generated research hypotheses about the sampling characteristics of the RMSEA under conditions commonly encountered in applied social science research. The results suggest that both the sample estimates and confidence intervals are accurate for sample sizes of n = 200 and higher, but caution is warranted in the use of these measures at smaller sample sizes, at least for the types of models considered here.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Sociological Methods & Research


Curran, Patrick J.
Bollen, Kenneth A.
Chen, Feinian
Paxton, Pamela M.
Kirby, James B.


Bollen - 0000-0002-6710-3800