Toward terminological, conceptual, and statistical clarity in the study of mediators and moderators: examples from the child-clinical and pediatric psychology literatures

J Consult Clin Psychol. 1997 Aug;65(4):599-610. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.65.4.599.


Numerous recent attempts to identify mediated and moderated effects in child-clinical and pediatric research on child adjustment have been characterized by terminological, conceptual, and statistical inconsistencies. To promote greater clarity, the terms mediating and moderating are defined and differentiated. Recommended statistical strategies that can be used to test for these effects are reviewed (i.e., multiple regression and structural equation modeling techniques). The distinction between mediated and indirect effects is also discussed. Examples of troublesome and appropriate uses of these terms in the child-clinical and pediatric psychology literatures are highlighted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Causality*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Pediatrics / standards*
  • Psychology, Child / standards*
  • Terminology as Topic*