How to Simulate Rasch Data

Dichotomous data:

1. Decide about the items. They are usually uniformly distributed. How many items? How wide the interval? The item mean is usually set at 0 logits. Simulate the item difficulties.

2. Decide about the person sample. This is usually normally distributed. How big a sample? What is the mean? What is the standard deviation? Simulate the person abilities.

4. For each response by a person to an item:

4A. Generate a random number U = uniform [0,1]

4B. Probability of failure = 1/(1 + exp(ability - difficulty))

4C. If U > Probability of failure, then X=1 else X=0.

4D. X is the simulated observation.

5. Check this by simulating data for a very high ability person (logit = 10): the data should all be "1".
Simulate data for a very low ability person (logit = -10): the data should all be "0"

Polytomous (rating scale or partial credit) data:

1. Decide about the items. They are usually uniformly distributed. How many items? How wide the interval? The item mean is usually set at 0 logits. Simulate the item difficulties.

2. Decide about the person sample. This is usually normally distributed. How big a sample? What is the mean? What is the standard deviation? Simulate the person abilities.

3. Decide about the number of categories, m. The higher categories, 2 to m, have Rasch-Andrich threshold values that are usually ascending and sum to zero across all the categories. Simulate the threshold values.

4. For each response by a person to an item:

4A. Generate a random number U = uniform [0,1]

4B. Compute the cumulative exponential of observing each category:
  measure = 0
  cumexp(1) = 1
  Compute for category j = 2 to m
    measure = measure + ability - difficulty - threshold(j)
    cumexp(j) = cumexp(j-1) + exponential(measure)
  Next category

4C. Identify the simulated observation:
  U = U * cumexp(m)
  For category j = 1 to m
    if U <= cumexp(j) then X = j: exit
  Next category

4D. X is the simulated observation.

5. Check this by simulating data for a very high ability person (logit = 10): the data should all be "m" (the top category).
Simulate data for a very low ability person (logit = -10): the data should all be "1" (the bottom category).

Unobserved Categories: sampling zeroes

Unobserved categories have a very low probability of being observed, so set the threshold values:
very low for an unobserved bottom category: example: 5 categories, bottom category unobserved: -40, -1, 0, 1
very high for an unobserved top category: example: 5 categories top category unobserved: -1, 0, 1, 40
very high then very low for the an unobserved intermediate category: example: 5 categories middle category unobserved: -1, 40, -40, 1

Many-Facets data:

As Polytomous data with the addition of:
1A. Decide about the other facets (tasks, demographics, etc.). Choose logit values for their elements.

4B. is amended:
    measure = measure + ability - difficulty + {measures of elements of other facets that apply to this observation} - threshold(j)

John M. Linacre


Linacre J.M. (2007) How to Simulate Rasch Data … Rasch Measurement Transactions 21:3 p. 1125



Rasch Publications
Rasch Measurement Transactions (free, online) Rasch Measurement research papers (free, online) Probabilistic Models for Some Intelligence and Attainment Tests, Georg Rasch Applying the Rasch Model 2nd. Ed., Bond & Fox Best Test Design, Wright & Stone
Rating Scale Analysis, Wright & Masters Introduction to Rasch Measurement, E. Smith & R. Smith Introduction to Many-Facet Rasch Measurement, Thomas Eckes Invariant Measurement: Using Rasch Models in the Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences, George Engelhard, Jr. Statistical Analyses for Language Testers, Rita Green
Rasch Models: Foundations, Recent Developments, and Applications, Fischer & Molenaar Journal of Applied Measurement Rasch models for measurement, David Andrich Constructing Measures, Mark Wilson Rasch Analysis in the Human Sciences, Boone, Stave, Yale

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