Accurate reports of mediation analyses are critical to the assessment of inferences related to causality, since these inferences are consequential for both the evaluation of previous research (e.g., meta-analyses) and the progression of future research. However, upon reexamination, approximately 15 % of published articles in psychology contain at least one incorrect statistical conclusion (Bakker & Wicherts, Behavior Research Methods, 43, 666–678 2011), disparities that beget the question of inaccuracy in mediation reports. To quantify this question of inaccuracy, articles reporting standard use of single-mediator models in three high-impact journals in personality and social psychology during 2011 were examined. More than 24 % of the 156 models coded failed an equivalence test (i.e., ab 0 c – c′), suggesting that one or more regression coefficients in mediation analyses are frequently misreported. The authors cite common sources of errors, provide recommendations for enhanced accuracy in reports of single-mediator models, and discuss implications for alternative methods.
Keywords Mediation analysis; Error; Validity of research conclusions