A discussion of what constitutes the primary moderating variables associated with audience effects begins with outlining the difference between moderation and mediation. In essence, the distinction between mediation and moderation is parallel to explaining a relationship versus changing a relationship. Or to put it another way, when a variable moderates a relationship it makes the existence of that relationship (between the independent and dependent variables) contingent upon its presence. Alternatively, a mediator explains how or why the relationship between two variables exists, whereas moderator variables specify when certain effects will occur.

For example, a mediating relationship could be thought of as potentially explaining the relationship between age and wisdom. While being older can be associated with greater wisdom, this relationship may also be explained by ...

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