Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

Summer 8-1-2022

Publication Title

Journal of Clinical Psychology




College of Humanities and Fine Arts


The use of exploratory network analysis has increased in psychopathology research over the past decade. A benefit of exploratory network analysis is the wealth of information it can provide; however, a single analysis may generate more inferences than what can be discussed in one manuscript (e.g., centrality indices of each node). This necessitates that authors choose which results to discuss in further detail and which to omit. Without a guide for this process, the likelihood of a biased interpretation is high. We propose that the integration of theory throughout the research process makes the interpretation of exploratory networks more manageable for the researcher and more likely to result in an interpretation that advances science. The goals of this paper are to differentiate between exploratory and confirmatory network analyses, discuss the utility of exploratory work, and provide a practical framework that uses theory as a guide to interpret exploratory network analyses.


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Lass, A. N., Jordan, D. G., & Winer, E. S. (2022). Using theory to guide exploratory network analyses. Journal of Clinical Psychology, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.

Included in

Psychology Commons



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