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Mediation in experimental and nonexperimental studies: new procedures and recommendations

By Patrick E. Shrout and Niall Bolger


Mediation is said to occur when a causal effect of some variable X on an outcome Y is explained by some intervening variable M. The authors recommend that with small to moderate samples, bootstrap methods (B. Efron & R. Tibshirani, 1993) be used to assess mediation. Bootstrap tests are powerful because they detect that the sampling distribution of the mediated effect is skewed away from 0. They argue that R. M. Baron and D. A. Kenny’s (1986) recommendation of first testing the X → Y association for statistical significance should not be a requirement when there is a priori belief that the effect size is small or suppression is a possibility. Empirical examples and computer setups for bootstrap analyses are provided. Mediation models of psychological processes are popular because they allow interesting associations to be decomposed into components that reveal possible causal mechanisms. These models are useful for theory development and testing as well as for the identification of possible points of intervention in applied work. Mediation is equally of interest to experimental psychologists as it is to those who study naturally occurring processes through nonexperimental studies. For example, social–cognitive psychologists are interested in showing that the effects of cognitive priming on attitude change are mediated by the accessibility of certain beliefs (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993). Developmental psychologists use longitudinal methods to study how parental unemployment can have adverse effects on child behavior through its intervening effect on quality of parenting (Conger et al., 1990). Mediation analysis is also used in organizationa

Topics: 2000, Mathieu, Heffner, Goodwin, Salas, Cannon
Year: 2002
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