This paper presents a causal explanation of formative variables that unpacks and clarifies the generally accepted idea that formative indicators are ‘causes’ of the focal formative variable. In doing this, we explore the recent paper by Diamantopoulos and Temme (AMS Review, 3(3), 160-171, 2013) and show that the latter misunderstand the stance of Lee, Cadogan, and Chamberlain (AMS Review, 3(1), 3-17, 2013; see also Cadogan, Lee, and Chamberlain, AMS Review, 3(1), 38-49, 2013). By drawing on the multiple ways that one can interpret the idea of causality within the MIMIC model, we then demonstrate how the continued defense of the MIMIC model as a tool to validate formative indicators and to identify formative variables in structural models is misguided. We also present unambiguous recommendations on how formative variables can be modelled in lieu of the formative MIMIC model.
- formative variables