A mixture hierarchical model for response times and response accuracy

Chun Wang, Gongjun Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


In real testing, examinees may manifest different types of test-taking behaviours. In this paper we focus on two types that appear to be among the more frequently occurring behaviours - solution behaviour and rapid guessing behaviour. Rapid guessing usually happens in high-stakes tests when there is insufficient time, and in low-stakes tests when there is lack of effort. These two qualitatively different test-taking behaviours, if ignored, will lead to violation of the local independence assumption and, as a result, yield biased item/person parameter estimation. We propose a mixture hierarchical model to account for differences among item responses and response time patterns arising from these two behaviours. The model is also able to identify the specific behaviour an examinee engages in when answering an item. A Monte Carlo expectation maximization algorithm is proposed for model calibration. A simulation study shows that the new model yields more accurate item and person parameter estimates than a non-mixture model when the data indeed come from two types of behaviour. The model also fits real, high-stakes test data better than a non-mixture model, and therefore the new model can better identify the underlying test-taking behaviour an examinee engages in on a certain item.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)456-477
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The British Psychological Society.


  • Mixture hierarchical model
  • Rapid guessing
  • Response time


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