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The Sobel test is used to determine whether a variable carries (or mediates) the effect of an independent variable to the dependent variable—the outcome of interest. A significant test statistic offers evidence that an independent variable has an indirect effect (i.e., an effect that is mediated in whole or in part through another variable) on the dependent variable. This is done by testing the hypothesis that there is no statistical difference between the total effect (i.e., the effect of a specified independent variable on the dependent variable) and the direct effect (i.e., the effect of that same independent variable on the dependent variable) after taking into account the influence of a potential mediator.

Mediation effects of this nature abound in communication research. For instance, some of ...

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