The latent structure of analogue depression: Should the beck depression inventory be used to classify groups?

Ayelet Meron Ruscio, Pennsylvania State University
John Ruscio, Elizabethtown College


Research on depression is often conducted with analogue samples that have been divided into depressed and nondepressed groups using a cutoff score on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Although the relative merits of different cut scores are frequently debated, no study has yet determined whether the use of any cut score is valid, that is, whether the latent structure of BDI depression is categorical or dimensional in analogue samples. The BDI responses of 2,260 college students were submitted to 3 taxometric procedures whose results were compared with those of simulated data sets with equivalent parameters. Analyses provided converging evidence for the dimensionality of analogue depression, arguing against the use of the BDI to classify analogue participants into groups. Analyses also illustrated the notable impact of pronounced skew on taxometric results and the value of using simulated comparison data as an interpretive aid.