Mediation and moderation analysis
What comes into your mind when you read the name of this article? It’s easy to think that this is a social science article about arbitration or so. But it is just the opposite, these are statistical terms that quite a few know about. And for those who know about these terms, they tend to think that these imply the same thing. It’s true, that there are some similarities between these two terms, but again there is a stark difference between the two. If you are one of the people, who are intrigued by these two ‘arbitration terms’, then you are welcome to read this article.
As the norms would dictate, we have to begin with what these two terms mean. It’s the most basic and fundamental question when trying to understand anything. Moderation, as defined in statistics, occurs when the relationship between the dependent and explanatory variable can be influenced by the use of another variable. In simpler terms, it’s the third variable that influences the relationship between the dependent and independent variable. The third variable is referred to as the moderator variable. By affecting it does not mean that it only increases the correlation of the variables. It could reduce the creation. We could refer to it as the turn dial of the regression model, which could weaken or strengthen the relationship between the variables. For example, let’s take the case of the relationship between a student’s grade and the amount of time spent in studying. The moderator in the example could be the education level of the student. In elementary school, the time spent studying does not have much influence on the grade, but when it comes to higher education like college, it has an influence on the results.
Mediation implies a variable that mediates the relationship between the independent and dependent variable. They function as if they are the arbitrators. The relationship between the variables cannot exist without the mediator. Let’s take the above example of the relationship between the time spent studying and the grade scored. Education serves as the mediator. It would be meaningless to study without education.
There are some steps which have been proposed in finding the true mediator of the regression.
First, you regress the mediator on the dependent variable. If a relationship exists, then proceed to go regressing it to the independent variable. Again, if the relationship exists regress both the mediator and the independent variable in the mediator. We say we have a mediator when all the three steps were fulfilled.
Comparison between mediation and moderation.
Let’s now start with comparing and contrasting the two. We now know that the two are used in a regression analysis. They are used in relation to the dependent and independent variables, and that is where the similarities between the two ends. As can be noted, there is no major similarity.
When it comes to the differences, there is a wide disparity between the two, especially when it comes to their functionality. From the definitions of the two, you will note that a moderator variable affects the strength of the relationship while a mediator functions as the main reason why the relationship between the regression variables exist.
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