They are easy to confuse, yet mediation and moderation are two distinct terms that require distinct statistical approaches.
The key difference between the concepts can be compared to a case where a moderator lets you know when an association will occur while a mediator will inform you how or why it occurs.
Mediators can affect the relationship between X and Y. Moderators can affect the scale and magnitude of that relationship. And sometimes the mediators and moderators affect each other.
One of the most confusing things about statistical analysis is the different vocabulary used for the same, or nearly-but-not-quite-the-same, concepts.
Sometimes this happens just because the same analysis was developed separately within different fields and named twice.
So people in different fields use different terms for the same statistical concept. Try to collaborate with a colleague in a different field and you may find yourself awed by the crazy statistics they’re insisting on.
Other times, there is a level of detail that is implied by one term that isn’t true of the wider, more generic term. This level of detail is often about how the role of variables or effects affects the interpretation of output. (more…)
This relationship can take on different forms, of course, like a line or a curve, but there’s really only one relationship here to measure.
Usually the point is to model the predictive ability, the effect, of X on Y.
In other words, there is a clear response variable*, although not necessarily a causal relationship. We could have switched the direction of the arrow to indicate that Y predicts X or used a two-headed arrow to show a correlation, with no direction, but that’s a whole other story.
For our purposes, Y is the response variable and X the predictor.
But a third variable–another predictor–can relate to X and Y in a number of different ways. How this predictor relates to X and Y changes how we interpret the relationship between X and Y. (more…)
Understanding moderation is one of those topics in statistics that is so much harder than it needs to be.
Here are three suggestions to make it just a little easier.
I have spoken with a number of researchers who are surprised to learn that moderation is just another term for interaction.
Perhaps it’s because moderation often appears with discussions of mediation. Or because we tend to think of interaction as being part of ANOVA, but not regression.
In any case, both an interaction and moderation mean the same thing: the effect of one predictor on a response variable is different at different values of the second predictor. (more…)