Guidelines for the Investigation of Mediating Variables in Business Research

David Mackinnon, Stefany Coxe, Amanda N. Baraldi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

213 Scopus citations


Business theories often specify the mediating mechanisms by which a predictor variable affects an outcome variable. In the last 30 years, investigations of mediating processes have become more widespread with corresponding developments in statistical methods to conduct these tests. The purpose of this article is to provide guidelines for mediation studies by focusing on decisions made prior to the research study that affect the clarity of conclusions from a mediation study, the statistical models for mediation analysis, and methods to improve interpretation of mediation results after the research study. Throughout this article, the importance of a program of experimental and observational research for investigating mediating mechanisms is emphasized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Business and Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Causal inference
  • Confidence intervals
  • Indirect effects
  • Longitudinal models
  • Mediation
  • Moderation
  • Significance testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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