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The two notions coincide only when all error terms not shown in the diagram are statistically uncorrelated. When errors are correlated, adjustments must be made to neutralize those correlations before embarking on mediation analysis see Bayesian Networks. In other words, this test assesses whether a mediation effect is significant. It examines the relationship between the independent variable and the dependent variable compared to the relationship between the independent variable and dependent variable including the mediation factor. The Sobel test is more accurate than the Baron and Kenny steps explained above; however, it does have low statistical power.

As such, large sample sizes are required in order to have sufficient power to detect significant effects. Thus, the rule of thumb as suggested by MacKinnon et al. The Preacher and Hayes Bootstrapping method is a non-parametric test See Non-parametric statistics for a discussion on non parametric tests and their power. As such, the bootstrap method does not violate assumptions of normality and is therefore recommended for small sample sizes.

Testing a mediation model involving multiple pathways using AMOS and Process

Bootstrapping involves repeatedly randomly sampling observations with replacement from the data set to compute the desired statistic in each resample. Computing over hundreds, or thousands, of bootstrap resamples provide an approximation of the sampling distribution of the statistic of interest.

This method provides point estimates and confidence intervals by which one can assess the significance or nonsignificance of a mediation effect. Point estimates reveal the mean over the number of bootstrapped samples and if zero does not fall between the resulting confidence intervals of the bootstrapping method, one can confidently conclude that there is a significant mediation effect to report.

As outlined above, there are a few different options one can choose from to evaluate a mediation model. However, mediation continues to be most frequently determined using the logic of Baron and Kenny [15] or the Sobel test. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to publish tests of mediation based purely on the Baron and Kenny method or tests that make distributional assumptions such as the Sobel test. Thus, it is important to consider your options when choosing which test to conduct. While the concept of mediation as defined within psychology is theoretically appealing, the methods used to study mediation empirically have been challenged by statisticians and epidemiologists [7] [11] [16] and interpreted formally.

An experimental-causal-chain design is used when the proposed mediator is experimentally manipulated. Such a design implies that one manipulates some controlled third variable that they have reason to believe could be the underlying mechanism of a given relationship. A measurement-of-mediation design can be conceptualized as a statistical approach. Such a design implies that one measures the proposed intervening variable and then uses statistical analyses to establish mediation. This approach does not involve manipulation of the hypothesized mediating variable, but only involves measurement.

Experimental approaches to mediation must be carried out with caution. First, it is important to have strong theoretical support for the exploratory investigation of a potential mediating variable. A criticism of a mediation approach rests on the ability to manipulate and measure a mediating variable. Thus, one must be able to manipulate the proposed mediator in an acceptable and ethical fashion.

Mediation Analysis | SAGE Publications Inc

As such, one must be able to measure the intervening process without interfering with the outcome. The mediator must also be able to establish construct validity of manipulation. One of the most common criticisms of the measurement-of-mediation approach is that it is ultimately a correlational design.

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Consequently, it is possible that some other third variable, independent from the proposed mediator, could be responsible for the proposed effect. However, researchers have worked hard to provide counter evidence to this disparagement. Specifically, the following counter arguments have been put forward: [3].

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For example, if the independent variable precedes the dependent variable in time, this would provide evidence suggesting a directional, and potentially causal, link from the independent variable to the dependent variable. See other 3rd variables below. Mediation can be an extremely useful and powerful statistical test, however it must be used properly.

It is important that the measures used to assess the mediator and the dependent variable are theoretically distinct and that the independent variable and mediator cannot interact. Should there be an interaction between the independent variable and the mediator one would have grounds to investigate moderation.

In experimental studies, there is a special concern about aspects of the experimental manipulation or setting that may account for study effects, rather than the motivating theoretical factor. Any of these problems may produce spurious relationships between the independent and dependent variables as measured. Ignoring a confounding variable may bias empirical estimates of the causal effect of the independent variable.


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In general, the omission of suppressors or confounders will lead to either an underestimation or an overestimation of the effect of A on X , thereby either reducing or artificially inflating the magnitude of a relationship between two variables. Mediation and moderation can co-occur in statistical models. It is possible to mediate moderation and moderate mediation. Essentially, in moderated mediation, mediation is first established, and then one investigates if the mediation effect that describes the relationship between the independent variable and dependent variable is moderated by different levels of another variable i.

There are five possible models of moderated mediation, as illustrated in the diagrams below. Mediated moderation is a variant of both moderation and mediation. This is where there is initially overall moderation and the direct effect of the moderator variable on the outcome is mediated. The main difference between mediated moderation and moderated mediation is that for the former there is initial overall moderation and this effect is mediated and for the latter there is no moderation but the effect of either the treatment on the mediator path A is moderated or the effect of the mediator on the outcome path B is moderated.

Researchers next look for the presence of mediated moderation when they have a theoretical reason to believe that there is a fourth variable that acts as the mechanism or process that causes the relationship between the independent variable and the moderator path A or between the moderator and the dependent variable path C. The wide availability of software implementing SEM gives the reader necessary tools for modeling mediation so that a proper understanding of causal relationship is achieved. Additional Product Features Dewey Edition. Introduction to Mediation 2.

Mediation Analysis Basics 3. Advanced Topics 6. Show More Show Less. Any Condition Any Condition. No ratings or reviews yet. Be the first to write a review.

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