Establishing a causal chain: why experiments are often more effective than mediational analyses in examining psychological processes.

Psychology Department, University of Waterloo, ON, Canada.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 5.08). 01/2006; 89(6):845-51. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.89.6.845
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The authors propose that experiments that utilize mediational analyses as suggested by R. M. Baron and D. A. Kenny (1986) are overused and sometimes improperly held up as necessary for a good social psychological paper. The authors argue that when it is easy to manipulate and measure a proposed psychological process that a series of experiments that demonstrates the proposed causal chain is superior. They further argue that when it is easy to manipulate a proposed psychological process but difficult to measure it that designs that examine underlying process by utilizing moderation can be effective. It is only when measurement of a proposed psychological process is easy and manipulation of it is difficult that designs that rely on mediational analyses should be preferred, and even in these situations careful consideration should be given to the limiting factors of such designs.

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  • The Academy of Management Journal 01/2014; DOI:10.5465/amj.2011.0727 · 5.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Model of Action Phases (Gollwitzer, 1990, 2012) distinguishes an implemental mindset evoked by planning goal-directed actions, from a deliberative mindset evoked by pondering pros/cons of adopting a particular goal. The present research demonstrates that mindsets affect time predictions. In Study 1 (N = 151), participants in an implemental mindset made shorter time predictions with respect to completing personal goals than participants in a deliberative mindset. In Study 2 (N = 78), we tested a mediating mechanism for the mindset effect by varying the motivation to return a report. The mindset effect was replicated in the low-but not in the high-motivation condition with participants in an implemental mindset returning the report earlier, and being as accurate in their predictions as participants in a deliberative mindset. Results indicate that an implemental (vs. deliberative) mindset increases motivation and therefore leads to shorter, but equally biased time predictions. One of the most influential theories on goal setting and goal striving is the Model of Action Phases (Gollwitzer, 1990; Heckhausen & Gollwitzer, 1987). It has inspired a great number of studies which show that distinct action phases in the course of goal striving (i.e., selecting vs. implementing goals) differ with respect to the prevailing cognitive mindsets (Gollwitzer, 2012). These mindsets are attuned to the task at hand supporting efficient goal setting or goal implementation, respectively. To date, researchers have concentrated on demonstrating these cognitive differences but neglected the question of how mindsets affect the success people have in translating their goals into action (for exceptions, see Armor & Taylor, 2003; Brandstätter & Frank, 2002; Pösel, 1994, cited in Gollwitzer, 1996). The major aim of the present research was to look at one important precondition of successful goal pursuit, namely at the adequate prediction of one's own task completion times. More specifically, we sought to show that people in an implemental versus deliberative mind-set differ in their prediction of task completion time and in the actual time they need for accomplishing a task.

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