Exploratory Mediation Analysis via Regularization

Sarfaraz Serang, Ross Jacobucci, Kim C. Brimhall, Kevin Grimm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Exploratory mediation analysis refers to a class of methods used to identify a set of potential mediators of a process of interest. Despite its exploratory nature, conventional approaches are rooted in confirmatory traditions, and as such have limitations in exploratory contexts. We propose a two-stage approach called exploratory mediation analysis via regularization (XMed) to better address these concerns. We demonstrate that this approach is able to correctly identify mediators more often than conventional approaches and that its estimates are unbiased. Finally, this approach is illustrated through an empirical example examining the relationship between college acceptance and enrollment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)733-744
Number of pages12
JournalStructural Equation Modeling
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 3 2017


  • exploratory mediation analysis
  • lasso
  • mediation
  • regularization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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