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Methods: Mind the Gap

Webinar Series

Applying Mediation Analysis To Understand How Interventions Work

April 1, 2016
David P. MacKinnon
​David P. MacKinnon, Ph.D.

Foundation Professor
Department of Psychology
Arizona State University

View the Webinar

About the Webinar

Dr. MacKinnon describes mediation analysis methods with attention to solutions for some of the limitations of these methods. Mediating variables have a long and important history in theoretical and applied research, because they describe how and why two variables are related.

One common example is the study of the mediating processes that explain how a prevention or treatment program achieves its effects on an outcome variable. If the active ingredients are identified, then interventions can be made more powerful and more efficient. Other mediating variable examples include how a risk factor leads to disease and how early life experiences affect later development.

Over the last decade, there has been considerable development of new methods and wider substantive application of mediation analysis. The presentation describes the questions mediation analysis can answer and how mediating variables differ from moderators, confounders, and covariates. The analysis of the single- and multiple-mediator models are used to demonstrate several controversial issues in inference, significance testing, and confidence interval estimation.

New models for longitudinal mediation and approaches to investigating assumptions of the mediation model are described. Dr. MacKinnon also discusses future directions in mediation theory and statistical analysis.

About David P. MacKinnon

David P. MacKinnon, Ph.D., has been developing, evaluating, and applying methods to assess how interventions work for 30 years. He is a Foundation Professor in the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, the Ph.D. in measurement and psychometrics from UCLA in 1986, and was an Assistant Professor of Research at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Prevention Research from 1986 to 1990. He has given numerous workshops in the United States and Europe.

In 2011 he received the Nan Tobler Award from the Society for Prevention Research for his book on statistical mediation analysis. He recently received the Merit Research in Time Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for his research on mediation analysis. He has served on federal grant review committees and is a former consulting editor of the journal Prevention Science and is on the editorial board of Psychological Methods.

Dr. MacKinnon has been principal investigator on several National Institute of Health grants and is a Thomson-Reuters highly cited researcher. He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the Society for Prevention Research, and the American Psychological Association Measurement and Statistics Division.

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