SPSS and SAS procedures for estimating indirect effects in simple mediation models

Behav Res Methods Instrum Comput. 2004 Nov;36(4):717-31. doi: 10.3758/bf03206553.


Researchers often conduct mediation analysis in order to indirectly assess the effect of a proposed cause on some outcome through a proposed mediator. The utility of mediation analysis stems from its ability to go beyond the merely descriptive to a more functional understanding of the relationships among variables. A necessary component of mediation is a statistically and practically significant indirect effect. Although mediation hypotheses are frequently explored in psychological research, formal significance tests of indirect effects are rarely conducted. After a brief overview of mediation, we argue the importance of directly testing the significance of indirect effects and provide SPSS and SAS macros that facilitate estimation of the indirect effect with a normal theory approach and a bootstrap approach to obtaining confidence intervals, as well as the traditional approach advocated by Baron and Kenny (1986). We hope that this discussion and the macros will enhance the frequency of formal mediation tests in the psychology literature. Electronic copies of these macros may be downloaded from the Psychonomic Society's Web archive at www.psychonomic.org/archive/.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Psychology / methods