Reconsidering Baron and Kenny: Myths and Truths About Mediation Analysis

10 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2010

See all articles by Xinshu Zhao

Xinshu Zhao

affiliation not provided to SSRN

John G. Lynch

University of Colorado-Boulder, Leeds School of Business - Center for Research on Consumer Financial Decision Making

Qimei Chen

Shidler College of Business, University of Hawaii

Date Written: February 15, 2010

Abstract

Baron and Kenny’s (1986) procedures for determining if an independent variable affects a dependent variable through some mediator are so well known that they are used by authors and requested by reviewers almost reflexively. Many research projects have been terminated early in a research program or later in the review process because the data did not conform to Baron and Kenny’s criteria, impeding theoretical development. While the technical literature has disputed some of Baron and Kenny’s tests, this literature has not diffused to practicing researchers. We present a nontechnical summary of the flaws in the Baron and Kenny logic, some not previously noted. We provide a decision tree and a step-by-step procedure for testing mediation, classifying its type, and interpreting the implications of findings for theory building and future research.

Keywords: Mediation Analysis, Methodology

Suggested Citation

Zhao, Xinshu and Lynch, John G. and Chen, Qimei, Reconsidering Baron and Kenny: Myths and Truths About Mediation Analysis (February 15, 2010). Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 37, August 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1554563

Xinshu Zhao

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

John G. Lynch (Contact Author)

University of Colorado-Boulder, Leeds School of Business - Center for Research on Consumer Financial Decision Making ( email )

Leeds School of Business
Boulder, CO 80309-0419
United States
919-971-5201 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.colorado.edu/business/john-g-lynch-jr

Qimei Chen

Shidler College of Business, University of Hawaii ( email )

Honolulu, HI 96822
United States

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