Variable System: An Alternative Approach for the Analysis of Mediated Moderation
Mediated moderation (meMO) occurs when the moderation effect of the moderator (W) on the relationship between the independent variable (X) and the dependent variable (Y) is transmitted through a mediator (M). To examine this process empirically, 2 different model specifications (Type I meMO and Type II meMO) have been proposed in the literature. However, both specifications are found to be problematic, either conceptually or statistically. For example, it can be shown that each type of meMO model is statistically equivalent to a particular form of moderated mediation (moME), another process that examines the condition when the indirect effect from X to Y through M varies as a function of W. Consequently, it is difficult for one to differentiate these 2 processes mathematically. This study therefore has 2 objectives. First, we attempt to differentiate moME and meMO by proposing an alternative specification for meMO. Conceptually, this alternative specification is intuitively meaningful and interpretable, and, statistically, it offers meMO a unique representation that is no longer identical to its moME counterpart. Second, using structural equation modeling, we propose an integrated approach for the analysis of meMO as well as for other general types of conditional path models. VS, a computer software program that implements the proposed approach, has been developed to facilitate the analysis of conditional path models for applied researchers. Real examples are considered to illustrate how the proposed approach works in practice and to compare its performance against the traditional methods.