Predicting Group-Level Outcome Variables: An Empirical Comparison of Analysis Strategies

Document Type


Publication Date



Micro–macro data, Group-level outcomes, Analysis of group means

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



This study provides a review of two methods for analyzing multilevel data with group-level outcome variables and compares them in a simulation study. The analytical methods included an unadjusted ordinary least squares (OLS) analysis of group means and a two-step adjustment of the group means suggested by Croon and van Veldhoven (2007). The Type I error control, power, bias, standard errors, and RMSE in parameter estimates were compared across design conditions that included manipulations of number of predictor variables, level of correlation between predictors, level of intraclass correlation, predictor reliability, effect size, and sample size. The results suggested that an OLS analysis of the group means, with White’s heteroscedasticity adjustment, provided more power for tests of group-level predictors, but less power for tests of individual-level predictors. Furthermore, this simple analysis avoided the extreme bias in parameter estimates and inadmissible solutions that were encountered with other strategies. These results were interpreted in terms of recommended analytical methods for applied researchers.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Behavior Research Methods, v. 50, p. 2461-2479