Latent Differential Equations with Moderators: Simulation and Application

Hu, Y., Boker, S. M., Neale, M. C. & Klump, K. (in press) Latent Differential Equations with Moderators: Simulation and Application. Psychological Methods

Latent Differential Equations (LDE) is an approach using differential equations to analyze time series data. Due to its recent development, some technique issues critical to performing an LDE model remain. This article provides solutions to some of these issues, and recommends a step-by-step procedure demonstrated on a set of empirical data, which models the interaction between ovarian hormone cycles and emotional eating. Results indicated that emotional eating is self-regulated. For instance, when people have more emotional eating behavior than normal, they will subsequently tend to decrease their emotional eating behavior. In addition, a sudden increase will produce a stronger tendency to decrease than a slow increase. We also found that emotional eating is coupled with the cycle of the ovarian hormone estradiol, and the peak of emotional eating occurs after the peak of estradiol. Self-reported average level of negative affect moderates the frequency of eating regulation and the coupling strength between eating and estradiol. Thus, people with a higher average level of negative affect tend to fluctuate faster in emotional eating, and their eating behavior is more strongly coupled with the hormone estradiol. Permutation tests on these empirical data supported the reliability of using LDE models to detect self-regulation and a coupling effect between two regulatory behaviors.

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