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I am reading some material about structural equation modeling. I found it to be extremely similar to confirmatory factor analysis - modeling a construct as the linear combination of several other measures or constructs plus an error term. And the software package that can perform CFA can also perform SEM.

So I am wondering what is the difference between these two models?

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SEM is an umbrella term. CFA is the measurement part of SEM, which shows relationships between latent variables and their indicators. The other part is the structural component, or the path model, which shows how the variables of interest (often latent variables) are related.

You can run CFA alone, path analysis alone, or a full SEM. Path analysis is SEM without latent variables.

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I agree with Mr Hotaka's answer and would like to add to it. CFA (Confirmatory factor analysis) actually tests a measurement model. This means that you have some data collected using a questionnaire. The questions of the questionnaire are called items or indicator variables. Using EFA (or similar process) you come to derive the constructs for the groups of these items. CFA is used to confirm and trim these constructs and items (measurement model). SEM is used to find if relationships exist between these items and constructs (structural model). Collectively they are known as CFA-SEM, where SEM is an umbrella term, and CFA is a subset. But we use the term SEM specifically for hypothesis testing part (testing relationships among indicators and constructs).

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