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Mediation

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David A. Kenny

University of Connecticut

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Overview

Introduction (click to go there) Baron & Kenny Steps (click) Power (click) Test of the Indirect Effect (click) Assumptions (click) Additional Variables (click)

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Introduction

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Interest in Mediation

Mentions of mediation or mediator in psychology abstracts: 1980: 36 1990: 122 2000: 339 2010: 1,198

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Understand the mechanism theoretical concerns cost and efficiency concerns Find more proximal endpoints Understand why the intervention did not work finding the missing link compensatory processes

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X Y: path c X M: path a M Y (controlling for X): path b X Y (controlling for M): path c (standardized or unstandardized)

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Step 1: X Y (test path c)

Step 3: M (and X) Y (test path b) Step 4: X (and M) Y (test path c)

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Total Mediation

Meet steps 1, 2, and 3 and find that c equal zero.

Partial Mediation

Meet steps 1, 2, and 3 and find that c is smaller in absolute value than c.

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Example Dataset

Morse et al. J. of Community Psychology, 1994 treatment housing contacts days of stable housing persons randomly assigned to treatment groups. 109 people

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Treatment 1 = treated (intensive case management) 0 = treatment as usual Housing Contacts: number of contacts for the year after the intervention began Stable Housing days per month with adequate housing (0 to 30) measured for 9 months, one year after the intervention began

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Step 1: X Y c = 6.558, p = .009 Step 2: X M a = 1.831, p = .013 Step 3: M (and X) Y b = 1.398, p < .001 Step 4: X (and M) Y c = 3.998, p = .089

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Decomposition of Effects

Total Effect = Direct Effect + Indirect Effect c = c + ab Note that ab = c - c This equality exactly holds for multiple regression, but not necessarily for other estimation methods. Example:

6.558 = 3.998 + 2.560 (1.831x 1.398) And 100(2.56/6.56) = 39% of the total effect is explained (ab/c or equivalently 1 - c/c).

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When c is not statistically different from zero, but c is? NOT REALLY Ideally when ab is substantial and c is small, not just statistically non-significant.

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The total effect or c can be inferred from direct and indirect effect as c + ab. We need not perform Step 1 to estimate c. This can be useful in situations when c does not exactly equally c + ab.

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Steps 1 and 4 are not so key. Steps 2 and 3 are essential. Note that ab measures the indirect or the amount of the total effect that is mediated. Need a way of testing the null hypothesis that the indirect effect of ab is zero (discussed later).

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Inconsistent Mediation

ab and c have a different sign X as a suppressor variable Example: Stress and Mood with Coping as a Mediator Consequences

Step 1 may fail Percent mediated greater than 100%

Do we have mediation?

Yes. There is an indirect effect (ab > 0). No. There is no effect that is mediated.

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Presenting Mediation

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Power

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If c is zero, then c equals ab. If both a and b have a moderate effect size, then c has a smaller than small effect size (assuming c is zero). Thus, it is very possible to have tests of significance for a and b be statistically significant, but c is not. Note that for the example if a and b have moderate effect sizes (r = .3) and c = 0, the power of the test of c is only .15. 23

When b = 0, c = c and in this case c might be statistically significant, yet c might not be significant even though. Why? There is multicollinearity between X and M due to path a. Note that as M becomes a more successful mediator and path a gets larger, multicollinearity becomes more of a issue in the testing of c (and b).

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Test of path a has more power than the test of path b (b = .3, standardized): a N .1 86 .3 93 .5 112 (a is standardized; sample size needed for 80% power to reject the null hypothesis that b = 0) Conclusion: Power of the test of b declines as a increases.

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Strategies to Test ab = 0

Test a and b separately Sobel test Bootstrapping

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Easy to do Works fairly well

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Compute the square root of a2sb2 + b2sa2 which is denoted as sab Note that sa and sb are the standard errors of a and b, respectively; ta = a/sa and tb = b/sb. Divide ab by sab and treat that value as a Z. So if ab/sab greater than 1.96 in absolute value, reject the null hypothesis that the indirect effect is zero.

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Example

a = 1.831 and b = 1.398 sa = 0.728 and sb = 0.301 ab = 2.56; sab = 1.157 Sobel test Z is 2.213, p = .027 We conclude that the indirect effect is statistically different from zero.

Website: http://www.people.ku.edu/~preacher/sobel/sobel.htm

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Large values of ab are more variable than small values (i.e., 0).

The distribution of ab is highly skewed which lowers the power of the test.

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Bootstrapping

Nonparametric way of computing a sampling distribution. Re-sampling (with replacement) Many trials (computationally intensive) Correct for bias

Mean of the bootstrap estimate differs slightly from the estimate.

Compute a confidence interval which is asymmetric. Slight changes because empirically derived.

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Results of Bootstrapping

95% Bias Corrected Confidence Interval: Lower Upper .4322 5.0326 Note that the CI is asymmetric for an estimate of 2.598. Also values differ to sampling error. (Done using the Hayes & Preacher macro from http://www.afhayes.com/spss-sas-and-mplus-macros-and-code.html.)

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Assumptions

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Linearity

Is a problem in the example; housing contacts has a quadratic effect on stable housing (p = .034).

Interval level of measurement of M and Y

No clustering

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Called Moderation in Baron & Kenny Add XM (and possibly other interaction terms, e.g., X2M) when explaining Y. Not significant for the example (p = .476)

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Causal Assumptions

Perfect Reliability for M and X No Reverse Causal Effects Y may not cause M M and Y not cause X No Omitted Variables all common causes of M and Y, X and M, and X and Y measured and controlled (Guaranteed if X is manipulated.)

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U1

1

Note that U1 and U2 are theoretical variables and not errors from a regression equation.

U2

1 c'

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Unreliability

Usually safe to assume that X is perfectly reliable. Measurement error in Y does not bias unstandardized regression coefficients. Measurement error in M is problematic.

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Unreliability in M

Error

1

M

1 1

U1

M Latent

U2

1 c'

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Effect of Unreliability in M

b is attenuated (closer to zero) c is inflated (given consistent mediation) more as a increases more as b increases Note that the bigger the indirect, the greater the bias in c.

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Improve the reliability Adjust estimates using Structural Equation Modeling

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Omitted Variables

U1

1 e

Omitted Variable

f a b

U2

1 c'

Y

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Usually, but not always, the sign of ef is the same as b.

Inflating the estimate of b Deflates the estimate of c (could produce inconsistent mediation).

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Standard Results

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Do not omit them: Include them in the analysis as covariates. If there is good reason to believe that c = 0, they can be allowed for. Sometimes the omitted variable is shared method effects. If an issue, measure M and Y by different methods.

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Reverse Causation

U1

1

a g

U2

1 c'

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Typically, b and g have the same sign, which likely makes the value of b inflated and the value of c deflated.

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Longitudinal designs If c = 0, then the model can be estimated. Instrumental variable method.

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Mediator should be measured after X but before Y. X might be measured at the same time as Y (e.g., number of treatment sessions), but it must be assumed that X has not changed since when it affected Y.

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Obtain baseline measures of M and Y. Control for baseline M and Y in the analysis.

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M True

1

M

1

EX

1 a

EM U

X

1 1

V

1

X True

c'

Y

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U EM

1

1 1

M True

V

1

c'

Y

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Additional Variables

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Additional Variables

Multiple Xs Multiple Ms Multiple Ys Covariates

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Multiple Xs

Consider two Xs.

happens when X is categorical and there are more than two treatment groups

Now two indirect effects a1b and a2b. Can combine the Xs using a formative variable.

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Multiple Mediators

Consider two mediators, 1 and 2, and two indirect effects a1b1 and a2b2. Can test:

Are both different from zero? Is each different from zero? Is one larger than the other?

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Example

Two mediators: housing contacts and entitlement contacts. Tests:

Is the sum different from zero?

c c CI: (1.2383 to 6.6453) Yes

Housing Contacts CI: (0.4291 to 4.5582) Yes Entitlement Contacts CI: (0.0162 to 3.6826) Yes

H Contacts E contacts CI: (-1.6469 to 3.7828) No

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X has two levels Each level is intervention Both equally effective Each works through a different mechanism (i.e., mediator).

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Causal Chains

One mediator causes another X M1 M2 Y Indirect effect the product of three terms: ab1b2

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Multiple Outcomes

Consider two outcomes. Now two indirect effects ab1 and ab2. Consider combining outcome variables into a single variable, e.g., as a latent variables.

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Covariates

Often there are variables in the analysis that need to be controlled:

Demographics Baseline measures

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Use of SEM simultaneous estimation latent variables (reflective and formative) instrumental variable estimation Mediators or outcomes that are categorical or counted Clustering and multilevel mediation Mediated moderation and moderated 67 mediation

Conclusion

Mediational Analyses Are Very Simple Mediational Analyses Are Very Difficult

Difficulties are more in the conceptualization and measurement than in the statistical analysis.

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Additional Slides

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Moderation A causal effect varies as a function of some variable. Housing intervention program is stronger from men than women. Tested by an intervention X gender interaction. Combining the two Moderated Mediation Mediated Moderation

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Moderated Mediation

Begin with a mediation analysis and estimate a, b, and c. Two paths that can be moderated a path might vary due to moderator b path might vary due to moderator If one or both is moderated, the indirect effect or ab is moderated. Strategy Conduct two moderator analyses: one on M and one on Y. Measure how the indirect effect changes as a function of the moderator. That change need not be linear.

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We find that use of services mediates the effect of the intervention. Two paths that can be moderated The effect of the intervention on services is stronger for men than women. The effect of services on the days housed is stronger for men who receive the intervention. Note that moderated mediation can be reexpressed as moderated mediation.

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Mediated Moderation

Begin with moderation.

Show that the moderator affects the X Y

repeat Baron and Kenny steps but X is replaced by an X by moderator interaction

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Step 1: Intervention effects stronger for men than women. Step 2: Men who receive the intervention receive more services than do women. Step 3: Services increase the number of days housed. Step 4: The gender difference in intervention effect disappears when services is controlled.

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Graph of Mediation

Copied from MacKinnon et al. (2007)

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DataToText Project

Have the researcher tell DataToText what is the research question. DataToText performs the requisite analyses. DataToText gives the results from those analyses: computer output a written description

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http://davidakenny.net/dtt/datatotext.htm http://davidakenny.net/dtt/mediate.htm

Morse et al.: The effect of Treatment on Stable Housing is mediated by Housing Contacts.

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