An alternative framework for defining mediation

Linda M. Collins, John W. Graham, Brian P. Flaherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present article provides an alternative framework for evaluating mediated relationships. From this perspective, a mediated process is a chain reaction, beginning with an independent variable that affects a mediator that in turn affects an outcome. The definition of mediation offered here, presented for stage sequences, states three conditions for establishing mediation: (a) the independent variable affects the probability of the sequence no mediator to mediator to outcome; (b) the independent variable affects the probability of a transition into the mediator stage; (c) the mediator affects the probability of a transition into the outcome stage at every level of the independent variable. This definition of mediation is compared and contrasted with the well-known definition of mediation for continuous variables discussed in Baron and Kenny (1986), Judd and Kenny (1981), and Kenny, Kashy, and Bolger (1997). The definition presented in this article emphasizes the intraindividual, time-ordered nature of mediation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-312
Number of pages18
JournalMultivariate Behavioral Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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