Yes, But What's the Mechanism? (Don't Expect an Easy Answer)

John G. Bullock*, Donald P. Green, Shang E. Ha

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

644 Scopus citations


Psychologists increasingly recommend experimental analysis of mediation. This is a step in the right direction because mediation analyses based on nonexperimental data are likely to be biased and because experiments, in principle, provide a sound basis for causal inference. But even experiments cannot overcome certain threats to inference that arise chiefly or exclusively in the context of mediation analysis-threats that have received little attention in psychology. The authors describe 3 of these threats and suggest ways to improve the exposition and design of mediation tests. Their conclusion is that inference about mediators is far more difficult than previous research suggests and is best tackled by an experimental research program that is specifically designed to address the challenges of mediation analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)550-558
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • causal inference
  • experiments
  • indirect effects
  • mediation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Yes, But What's the Mechanism? (Don't Expect an Easy Answer)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this