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Multilevel modeling is a data analytic framework that is appropriate when analyzing data that are dependent due to the clustering of observations in higher-level units. Clustered data appear in a variety of disciplines, which makes multilevel modeling a necessary data analytic tool for many researchers. Longitudinal data are a special kind of clustered data as the repeated observations are clustered within individuals. Multilevel models can be applied to longitudinal data to examine how individuals change over time and how individuals differ in their change processes over time. For longitudinal data, linear multilevel models, where the fixed- and random-effects parameters enter the model in a linear fashion, and nonlinear multilevel models, where at least one fixed-and/or random-effect parameter enters the model in a nonlinear fashion are commonly estimated to examine different forms of the individual change process. Multilevel structural equation modeling is an extension of multilevel modeling that allows for multivariate outcomes, and this framework is very useful for modeling multivariate longitudinal data (e.g., multivariate growth models and second-order growth models).

Article

Lifespan development is embedded in multiple social systems and social relationships. Lifespan developmental and relationship researchers study individual codevelopment in various dyadic social relationships, such as dyads of parents and children or romantic partners. Dyadic data refers to types of data for which observations from both members of a dyad are available. The analysis of dyadic data requires the use of appropriate data-analytic methods that account for such interdependencies. The standard actor-partner interdependence model, the dyadic growth curve model, and the dyadic dual change score model can be used to analyze data from dyads. These models allow examination of questions related to dyadic associations such as whether individual differences in an outcome can be predicted by one’s own (actor effects) and the other dyad member’s (partner effects) level in another variable, correlated change between dyad members, and cross-lagged dyadic associations, that is, whether one dyad member’s change can be predicted by the previous levels of the other dyad member. The choice of a specific model should be guided by theoretical and conceptual considerations as well as by features of the data, such as the type of dyad, the number and spacing of observations, or distributional properties of variables.