Heuristics versus statistics in discriminant validity testing: a comparison of four procedures

George Franke (Department of Marketing, Culverhouse College of Business, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA)
Marko Sarstedt (Otto von Guericke Universitat Magdeburg, Magdeburg, Germany) (School of Business and Global Asia in the 21st Century Research Platform, Monash University Malaysia, Subang Jaya, Malaysia)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Publication date: 3 June 2019



The purpose of this paper is to review and extend recent simulation studies on discriminant validity measures, contrasting the use of cutoff values (i.e. heuristics) with inferential tests.


Based on a simulation study, which considers different construct correlations, sample sizes, numbers of indicators and loading patterns, the authors assess each criterion’s sensitivity to type I and type II errors.


The findings of the simulation study provide further evidence for the robustness of the heterotrait–monotrait (HTMT) ratio of correlations criterion as an estimator of disattenuated (perfectly reliable) correlations between constructs, whose performance parallels that of the standard constrained PHI approach. Furthermore, the authors identify situations in which both methods fail and suggest an alternative criterion.


Addressing the limitations of prior simulation studies, the authors use both directional comparisons (i.e. heuristics) and inferential tests to facilitate the comparison of the HTMT and PHI methods. Furthermore, the simulation considers criteria that have not been assessed in prior research.



Franke, G. and Sarstedt, M. (2019), "Heuristics versus statistics in discriminant validity testing: a comparison of four procedures", Internet Research, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 430-447. https://doi.org/10.1108/IntR-12-2017-0515

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