The Process For Establishing Mediation Essay

1884 words - 8 pages

Research often seeks to establish the relationship between independent and dependent variables in order to explain human thoughts and behaviours. Understanding how two variables are related provides a description of thoughts and behaviours. However, the fundamental aim of psychology is to postulate and provide empirical evidence for the mechanisms that influence the relationship between variables. Mediation analysis is a useful statistical tool that facilitates a functional understanding of the relationships among variables, rather than merely providing a descriptive account (Preacher, & Hayes, 2004). Mediation refers to the processes that intervene between an independent and dependent variable. For example, within the context of cognitive psychology, attentional processes are thought to mediate the relationship between stimulus (independent variable) and behaviour (dependent variable) (MacKinnon, Lockwood, Hoffman, West, & Sheets, 2002). In the case of mediation, independent and dependent variables are termed predictor and outcome variables, respectively. According to a study conducted by MacKinnon, Lockwood, Hoffman, West and Sheets (2002), 14 methods of analysing mediation effects have been identified that span across disciplines. Of these 14 methods, a causal step method proposed by Baron and Kenny (1986), is the most frequently used method within the field of psychology, and will be the primary focus of this essay. The Sobel test and bootstrapping method have been proposed as alternatives to Baron and Kenny’s (1986) method, and will also be discussed.
The process for establishing mediation is as follows; the predictor variable predicts the outcome variable; the predictor variable predicts the mediator; and the mediator predicts the outcome variable (Baron, & Kenny,1986). The Baron and Kenny (1986) method analyses the influence of a mediator variable through running a series of regression analyses. Firstly, the outcome variable is regressed on the predictor. Secondly, the mediator is regressed on the predictor. Finally, the outcome variable is regressed on the predictor and the mediator simultaneously. In order to meet the conditions for mediation; the predictor must predict the outcome variable in the first regression analysis; the predictor must predict the mediator in the second regression analysis; and finally, the mediator must predict the outcome variable. For full mediation to be inferred, the predictor variable must be a non-significant predictor of the outcome variable. Empirical evidence in support of partial mediation is contingent upon the predictor variable significantly predicting the outcome variable, however, it contributes less to the outcome variable than in the first regression analysis (Baron, & Kenny,1986). These conditions are quantified using unstandardised regression coefficients (Preacher, & Hayes, 2008).
Type one error rates and statistical power are important considerations when conducting statistical analysis...

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