An empirical comparison of information-theoretic selection criteria for multivariate behavior genetic models

Kristian E. Markon, Robert Krueger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations


Information theory provides an attractive basis for statistical inference and model selection. However, little is known about the relative performance of different information-theoretic criteria in covariance structure modeling, especially in behavioral genetic contexts. To explore these issues, information-theoretic fit criteria were compared with regard to their ability to discriminate between multivariate behavioral genetic models under various model, distribution, and sample size conditions. Results indicate that performance depends on sample size, model complexity, and distributional specification. The Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC) is more robust to distributional misspecification than Akaike's Information Criterion (AIC) under certain conditions, and outperforms AIC in larger samples and when comparing more complex models. An approximation to the Minimum Description Length (MDL; Rissanen, J. (1996). IEEE Transactions on Information Theory 42:40-47, Rissanen, J. (2001). IEEE Transactions on Information Theory 47:1712-1717) criterion, involving the empirical Fisher information matrix, exhibits variable patterns of performance due to the complexity of estimating Fisher information matrices. Results indicate that a relatively new information-theoretic criterion, Draper's Information Criterion (DIC; Draper, 1995), which shares features of the Bayesian and MDL criteria, performs similarly to or better than BIC. Results emphasize the importance of further research into theory and computation of information-theoretic criteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-610
Number of pages18
JournalBehavior genetics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
1 Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota. Robert F. Krueger and Kristian E. Markon were supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant MH65137. Preliminary results were presented at the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Behavior Genetics Association, keystone, CO, USA, July 2002. 2 To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Elliott Hall, 75 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. e-mail:


  • Akaike's Information Criterion (AIC)
  • Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC)
  • Minimum Description Length (MDL)
  • Monte Carlo
  • model selection


Dive into the research topics of 'An empirical comparison of information-theoretic selection criteria for multivariate behavior genetic models'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this