What carries a mediation process? configural analysis of mediation

Alexander von Eye, Eun Young Mun, Patrick Mair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Mediation is a process that links a predictor and a criterion via a mediator variable. Mediation can be full or partial. This well-established definition operates at the level of variables even if they are categorical. In this article, two new approaches to the analysis of mediation are proposed. Both of these approaches focus on the analysis of categorical variables. The first involves mediation analysis at the level of configurations instead of variables. Thus, mediation can be incorporated into the arsenal of methods of analysis for person-oriented research. Second, it is proposed that Configural Frequency Analysis (CFA) can be used for both exploration and confirmation of mediation relationships among categorical variables. The implications of using CFA are first that mediation hypotheses can be tested at the level of individual configurations instead of variables. Second, this approach leaves the door open for different types of mediation processes to exist within the same set. Using a data example, it is illustrated that aggregate-level analysis can overlook mediation processes that operate at the level of individual configurations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-247
Number of pages20
JournalIntegrative Psychological and Behavioral Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Categorical variables
  • Configural frequency analysis
  • Exploratory analysis
  • Mediation
  • Person orientation


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