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Mplus Discussion > Multilevel Data/Complex Sample >
 Andy Cohen posted on Thursday, July 12, 2007 - 8:40 am
I am conducting a 2 level analysis in which I would like to include interactions between two main effect variables in the within portion of my analysis. I am defining the variables using the DEFINE command (e.g. IntA_B = A * B). The underlying variables for the interaction terms need to be group mean centered. I have already specified group mean centering for these variables in the VARIABLE command (as that is necessary for the use of the TWOLEVEL option in the ANALYSIS command, but am wondering if the DEFINE command will use the original or centered form of the variables.

 Linda K. Muthen posted on Thursday, July 12, 2007 - 8:56 am
The transformations in the DEFINE command are done before the centering.
 Clemens Lechner posted on Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 4:23 am
Dear Dr. Muthen,

I wonder, whether - as a consequence of the above - the newly defined interaction terms should be listed under the CENTERING command?

Does the order of operations (first computing the interaction terms, then centering) affect the results?
 Linda K. Muthen posted on Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 2:50 pm
Yes, the order of operations matters. Any transformations using DEFINE should be done first and the data saved. The centering should be done on the saved data.
 C. Lechner posted on Friday, February 17, 2012 - 6:38 am
Ok, thank you very much for your answer!
May I ask two additional questions:

#1: I suppose the same would apply to interactions between a latent variable and a manifest variable computed using the XWITH command? I would first compute the interaction, save it, and then center it along with the other variables in the model?

#2: Assume I have a multilevel model with two predictors and an interaction between the two on level 1.
One of the two predictors that interact have a random effect, the other is treated as a fixed effect. The interaction thus has to be treated as a random effect as well.
However, do BOTH predictors that are part of the interaction have to be treated as random, or will it suffice to treat one as random and the second one as fixed (as I would assume)?
Technically, both works fine, because in a regression or path model, Mplus will treat these interactions as any other variables. But is it correct?
 Bengt O. Muthen posted on Friday, February 17, 2012 - 8:22 pm
1. Using XWITH, you would center the manifest variable in Define say, but do that in the same one-step analysis. The latent variable has mean zero in most models and need not be altered.

2. I don't see that the choice of fixed or random for each of the variables has any implication for their interaction.
 Chuck Burgess posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 - 6:03 pm
Just so that I'm clear, it seems like there is no way use the CENTER command to group mean center a set of variables and then use them in a DEFINE statement in the same procedure. For example:

names = AgencyID Gender Age T employ enroll engage housegb incany totsup infsup
formsup anysup anyinf anyform;
cluster = AgencyID;
missing are all .;
usevar = Gender Age T incany formsup Intx;
categorical are incany;
within = T formsup Intx;
between = Age Gender;
center = grand mean (Age) group mean (T formsup);

Intx = T*formsup;

This would compute the Intx variable before group mean centering T and formsup and this isn't what I want. Is there any way around this? The manual states that the CLUSTER_MEAN option also cannot be used with subsequent DEFINE statements. So I guess that leaves me with using the SAVEDATA command to save the group means, then running another procedure using those saved variables to compute the group mean centered values. Save that data for a final time, and run a third procedure calculating the interaction term with the saved, group mean centered values. Is that correct? Or did I add in an extra step somewhere. Thanks for all your help!
 Linda K. Muthen posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 - 10:18 am
It sounds like you are correct.
 Karen S. Mitchell posted on Monday, July 02, 2012 - 1:19 pm
Hi, I am running a two-level model to test group differences before and after an intervention. I'm entering my own time variable to represent the number of days since baseline (see sample script below). I noticed that Mplus is automatically centering my time variable. Is there a way to not center it? I would like the baseline (T1) to = 0, as this is more meaningful. Thanks!

WIDE = DV_T1 DV_T2 DV_T3 |
T1 T2 T3 ;
LONG = DV | timeB ;

IDVARIABLE = person ;

Variable: Names are ID group DV_T1 DV_T2 DV_T3 T1 T2 T3 ;

Usevariables are
group DV timeB person ;

Cluster = person ;
Within time timeB;
Between = group ;

Missing are .;


s | DV on timeB ;

DV s on group ;
DV with s ;
 Linda K. Muthen posted on Tuesday, July 03, 2012 - 10:57 am
The REPETITION option assigns to the variable time consecutive numbers starting with zero.
 Melvin C Y posted on Friday, January 25, 2013 - 4:44 am
In my two level sem model, I specified the following (there''re more variables but I''ll keep it simple)
Within is x1 x2; !very low ICC.

% within%
WL1 by x1 x2 x3;

Dep on WL1;

% between%
BL2 by x3;

Dep on BL2;

Fit statistics are fine except for L2 srmr (above1.0). When I add groupmean centering to x1 and x2 in a subsequent run, the L2 srmr improved substantially.
What could be the reason for this? Should I center?
I placed x1 and x2 at within as their ICCs were very low.
 Bengt O. Muthen posted on Friday, January 25, 2013 - 4:18 pm
I would feel more comfortable with other fit indices for two-level modeling. Stay with chi-square, RMSEA, and CFI.
 Kirill Fayn posted on Thursday, May 30, 2013 - 12:45 am

i am trying to run my first MLM on mplus and am having difficulty centring my level one variables.

The model and the error is below:

USEVARIABLES ARE Interest Cope1 Nov1 ZOpen ZInt;
WITHIN = Cope1 Nov1;
MISSING ARE all (-9999);
CLUSTER = subject;

IntCop | Interest ON Cope1; !need to make these factors
IntNov | Interest ON Nov1;
Interest IntCop IntNov ON ZOpen ZInt

*** ERROR in DEFINE command
Error in assignment statement for CENTER

Could you please help. The syntax seems to be right so I am guessing I can't centre these variables for some reason.

Thanks in advance for your time.

Best regards,

 Linda K. Muthen posted on Thursday, May 30, 2013 - 10:54 am
What version of Mplus are you using? If it is earlier than Version 7, the CENTERING option was in the VARIABLE command. If it is Version 7 or later, please send the output and your license number to
 Katerina Gk posted on Wednesday, October 09, 2013 - 4:42 am
I have 5-factor model(job sat.) and self-eff.( 3-factor model).I want to aggregate by school the observed variables of the job sat. and self-effi. in the between level. If I use CENTERING = GRANDMEAN (x) is enough to understand that I need to aggregate at between level?the observed variable are the same in two levels....

Missing are all (999);
CLUSTER IS sxoleio;
er1_w by e1@1... ;
er2_w by e7@1... ;

a1_w by a3@1 ...;
a2_w by a1@1 ...;

er1_w ON a1_w;

er1_b by e1@1...;
er2_b by e7@1...;

a1_b by a3@1 ... ;
a2_b by a1@1 ...;

er1_b ON a1_b;
OUTPUT: standardized;
Thank you very much
 Linda K. Muthen posted on Wednesday, October 09, 2013 - 10:17 am
If you want an aggregated variable on the between level, use the CLUSTER_MEAN option of the DEFINE command to create it. See Example 9.1 where using this variable versus a latent variable decomposition of the individual-level variable is discussed.
 Katerina Gk posted on Wednesday, October 09, 2013 - 11:55 am
Thank you for your help!!
 Ute Hulsheger posted on Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 6:51 am
I am running the following random intercept multilevel model



y ON x;

y ON x;

Is it correct that in such a situation, where x is also used at the between level, x is basically group-mean centered at the within level although I specified GRANDMEAN in the Define section?

Is there a way to overrule this procedure and use grand-mean centering at Level 1?

Many thanks in advance for your time.
 Linda K. Muthen posted on Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 1:53 pm
You can put x on the WITHIN list and then create a cluster-level variable for x on between using the CLUSTER_MEAN option of the DEFINE command. See Example 9.1.
 Paraskevas Petrou posted on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - 6:44 am

In relation to the issues of centering in multilevel models raised above, I have two questions:

1. If any transformations (e.g., interaction between observed variables) are made before centering, it means that the interaction term does not use standardized scores of the products, which violates a basic requirement for the computation of any interaction term. How can I bypass this problem? Or is it not a problem?

2. When using grandmean centering (or no centering) for my within-level predictors, the fit of the model is considerably higher than when using groupmean centering. What could be the reason? Is there a preferable centering method for within-level predictors?

Thank you very much in advance!

 Linda K. Muthen posted on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - 11:42 am
1. It is standard to center, not standardize, variables before creating an interaction between them.

2. See the Raudenbush and Bryk book. This is a complex topic.
 Zen Goh posted on Friday, August 01, 2014 - 7:16 am
I'm running a 1-1-1 mod-med model, and have a generic question about centering.

(1) Why do we only center the X but not the M(mediator), as we do using HLM software? In HLM software, X and M are specified as group-centered predictors, so that only the within-level relationships are apparent. In Mplus, I'm only allowed to center X but not M. (see code and error message below)

(2) how does the lack of centering the mediator in MPlus affects the results and interpretation?

 Zen Goh posted on Friday, August 01, 2014 - 7:18 am
NAMES = clust Gender Age Child WLoad WFCts WFCemo LSat MgSup;
USEVARIABLES ARE WLoad WFCts LSat Gender Age Child MgSup;
BETWEEN = Gender Age Child MgSup;
CLUSTER= clust;

*** WARNING in MODEL command
Variable on the left-hand side of an ON statement in a | statement is a
WITHIN variable. The intercept for this variable is not random.
Variable: WFCTS
*** ERROR in MODEL command
Within-level variables cannot be used on the between level.
Within-level variable used: WFCTS
*** ERROR in MODEL command
Within-level variables cannot be used on the between level.
Within-level variable used: WFCTS
*** ERROR in MODEL command
Within-level variables cannot be used on the between level.
Within-level variable used: WFCTS
The following MODEL statements are ignored:
* Statements in the BETWEEN level:
 Linda K. Muthen posted on Friday, August 01, 2014 - 10:54 am
Variables on the BETWEEN list cannot be used in the within part of the model. They are measured on the cluster level. This is not related to centering. Read Example 9.1. It goes over all of the multilevel options. Example 9.2 shows a random slope model with a cross-level interaction.
 Zen Goh posted on Friday, August 01, 2014 - 12:53 pm
I think I might not have been clear in my question.

My mediator (not moderator) variable is also a within, level-1 variable - why do we not center this as well? Would this not affect the interpretation of the results?
 Bengt O. Muthen posted on Friday, August 01, 2014 - 2:24 pm
You can center mediators as well. The error message refers to something else.
 Tina Davidson posted on Thursday, October 02, 2014 - 1:25 am

I am running a 1-1-1 path model (using manifest variables) with non-independence in my DV (high ICC1; performance rated by common supervisor). In reading about centering (e.g., Enders & Tofighi, 2007), it is clear I need to group-mean center my predictors to prevent between-group variance biasing my results. However, I wonder why we don't group-mean center the DV to "purge" out between-group variance in the DV and only include within-group variance?

In books and in papers I generally find that the DV is not centered, but in the case of non-independence, doesn't the DV then include a lot of "noise" and how exactly does Mplus deal with the DV then?

E.g., is defining the DV at the WITHIN level an option? Are there other options to take care of this?

Thank you very much for your advice,
 Linda K. Muthen posted on Thursday, October 02, 2014 - 9:26 am
You model between-group variance in multilevel modeling. There is no need for anything else.
 Eivind Ystrøm posted on Friday, October 10, 2014 - 4:12 am
Dear Muthén,
I appreciate the new define functions in version 7.2, where order of commands has significance.

In a multilevel regression model where y(within) is regressed on x1(groupmeancentered (GMC)) and x2(GMC), should the interaction term for x1 and x2 (x1*x2) be computed before or after the GMC? That is, to first calculate x1*x2, and then GMC x1, x2, and x1*x2, OR calculate x1(GMC) and x2(GMC), and then calculate x1*x2 as x1(GMC)*x2(GMC).

1) y(within) on x1(GMC) x2(GMC) x1*x2(GMC)
2) y(within) on x1(GMC) x2(GMC) x1(GMC)*x2(GMC)

(say that, for example, y is lung cancer, x1 is smoking, and x2 is working with asbestos).

Hope you can help me with this conundrum,
Eivind Ystrom
 Bengt O. Muthen posted on Friday, October 10, 2014 - 3:26 pm
You can get wider input on general centering matters from Multilevelnet.
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