R code

R code for Jaeger, Graff, Croft and Pontillo (2011): Mixed effect models for genetic and areal dependencies in linguistic typology: Commentary on Atkinson

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Below I am sharing the R code for our paper on the serial founder effect:
This paper is a commentary on Atkinson’s 2011 Science article on the serial founder model (see also this interview with ScienceNews, in which parts of our comment in Linguistic Typology and follow-up work are summarized). In the commentary, we provide an introduction to linear mixed effect models for typological research. We discuss how to fit and to evaluate these models, using Atkinson’s data as an example.We illustrate the use of crossed random effects to control for genetic and areal relations between languages. We also introduce a (novel?) way to model areal dependencies based on an exponential decay function over migration distances between languages.
Finally, we discuss limits to the statistical analysis due to data sparseness. In particular, we show that the data available to Atkinson did not contain enough language families with sufficiently many languages to test whether the observed effect holds once random by-family slopes (for the effect) are included in the model. We also present simulations that show that the Type I error rate (false rejections) of the approach taken in Atkinson is many times higher than conventionally accepted (i.e. above .2 when .05 is the conventionally accepted rate of Type errors).
The scripts presented below are not intended to allow full replication of our analyses (they lack annotation and we are not allowed to share the WALS data employed by Atkinson on this site anyway). However, there are many plots and tests in the paper that might be useful for typologists or other users of mixed models. For that reason, I am for now posting the raw code. Please comment below if you have questions and we will try to provide additional annotation for the scripts as needed and as time permits. If you find (parts of the) script(s) useful, please consider citing our article in Linguistic Typology.

More on random slopes and what it means if your effect is not longer significant after the inclusion of random slopes

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I thought the following snippet from a somewhat edited email I recently wrote in reply to a question about random slopes and what it means that an effect becomes insignificant might be helpful to some. I also took it as an opportunity to updated the procedure I described at https://hlplab.wordpress.com/2009/05/14/random-effect-structure/. As always, comments are welcome. What I am writing below are just suggestions.

[…] an insignificant effect in an (1 + factor|subj) model means that, after controlling for random by-subject variation in the slope/effect of factor, you find no (by-convention-significant) evidence for the effect. Like you suggest, this is due to the fact that there is between-subject variability in the slope that is sufficiently large to let us call into question the hypothesis that the ‘overall’ slope is significantly different from zero.

[…] So, what’s the rule of thumb here? If you run any of the standard simple designs (2×2, 2×3, 2x2x2,etc.) and you have the psychologist’s luxury of plenty of data (24+item, 24+ subject […]), the full random effect structure is something you should entertain as your starting point. That’s in Clark’s spirit. That’s what F1 and F2 were meant for. […] All of these approaches do not just capture random intercept differences by subject and item. They also aim to capture random slope differences.

[…] here’s what I’d recommend during tutorials now because it often saves time for psycholinguistic data. I am only writing down the random effects but, of course, I am assuming there are fixed effects, too, and that your design factors will remain in the model. Let’s look at a 2×2 design: Read the rest of this entry »

Mixed model’s and Simpson’s paradox

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For a paper I am currently working on, I started to think about Simpson’s paradox, which wikipedia succinctly defines as

“a paradox in which a correlation (trend) present in different groups is reversed when the groups are combined. This result is often encountered in social-science […]”

The wikipedia page also gives a nice visual illustration. Here’s my own version of it. The plot shows 15 groups, each with 20 data points. The groups happen to order along the x-axis (“Pseudo distance from origin”) in a way that suggests a negative trend of the Pseudo distance from origin against the outcome (“Pseudo normalized phonological diversity”). However, this trend does not hold within groups. As a matter of fact, in this particular sample, most groups show the opposite of the global trend (10 out of 15 within-group slopes are clearly positive). If this data set is analyzed by an ordinary linear regression (which does not have access to the grouping structure), the result will be a significant negative slope for the Pseudo distance from origin. So, I got curious: what about linear mixed models?

Read the rest of this entry »

Diagnosing collinearity in mixed models from lme4

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I’ve just uploaded files containing some useful functions to a public git repository. You can see the files directly without worrying about git at all by visiting regression-utils.R (direct download) and mer-utils.R (direct download). Read the rest of this entry »

R code for LaTeX tables of lmer model effects

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Here’s some R code that outputs text on the console that you can copy-paste into a .tex file and creates nice LaTeX tables of fixed effects of lmer models (only works for family=”binomial”). Effects <.05 will appear in bold. The following code produces the table pasted below. It assumes the model mod.all. prednames creates a mapping from predictor names in the model to predictor names you want to appear in the table. Note that for the TeX to work you need to include \usepackage{booktabs} in the preamble.
Read the rest of this entry »

Annotated example analysis using mixed models

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Jessica Nelson (Learning Research and Development Center, University of Pittsburgh) uploaded a step-by-step example analysis using mixed models to her blog. Each step is nicely annotated and Jessica also discusses some common problems she encountered while trying to analyze her data using mixed models. I think this is a nice example for anyone trying to learn to use mixed models. It goes through all/most of the steps outlined in Victor Kuperman and my WOMM tutorial (click on the graph to see it full size):

Tutorial on Regression and Mixed Models at Penn State

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Last week (02/3-5/10), I had the pleasure to give the inaugural CLS Graduate Student Young Scientist Colloquium (“An information theoretic perspective on language production”) at the Center for Language Science at Penn State (State College).

I also gave two 3h-lectures on regression and mixed models. The slides for Day 1 introduce linear regression, generalized linear models, and generalized linear mixed models.  I am using example analyses of real psycholinguistic data sets from Harald Baayen’s languageR library (freely available through the free stats package R). The slides for Day 2 go through problems and solutions for regression models. For more information have a look at the online lectures available via the HLP lab wiki. I’ve uploaded the pdf slides and an R script. There also might be a pod cast available at some point. Feedback welcome. I’ll be giving a similar workshop at McGill in May, so watch for more materials.

I had an intensive and fun visit, meeting with researchers from Psychology, Communication and Disorders, Linguistics, Spanish, German, etc.  I learned a lot about bilingualism (not only though)  and a bit about anticipatory motor planning. So thanks to everyone there who helped to organize the visit, especially Jorge Valdes and Jee Sook Park. And thanks to Judith Kroll for the awesome cake (see below). Goes without saying that it was a pleasure meeting the unofficial mayor of State College, too ;). See you all at CUNY! Read the rest of this entry »