Pulling the Sobel Test Up By Its Bootstraps Chapter uri icon


  • In the domain of building and testing theory, mediation relationships are among the most important that can be proposed. Mediation helps to explicate our theoretical models (Leavitt, Mitchell, & Peterson, 2010) and addresses the fundamental question of why two constructs are related (Whetten, 1989). One of the betterknown methods for testing mediation is commonly referred to as the Sobel test, named for the researcher who derived a standard error (Sobel, 1982) to test the signi cance of the indirect effect. Recently, a number of different research teams (e.g., Preacher & Hayes, 2004; Shrout & Bolger, 2002) have criticized the Sobel test because this standard error requires an assumption of normality for the indirect effect sampling distribution. This distribution tends to be positively skewed (i.e., not normal), particularly in small samples, and so this assumption can be problematic (Preacher & Hayes, 2004; Stone & Sobel, 1990). As a result, the statistical power of the Sobel test may be lessened in these contexts (Preacher & Hayes, 2004; Shrout & Bolger, 2002).

author list (cited authors)

  • Koopman, J., Howe, M., & Hollenbeck, J. R.

complete list of authors

  • Koopman, Joel||Howe, M||Hollenbeck, JR

editor list (cited editors)

  • Lance, C. E., & Vandenberg, R. J.

Book Title

  • More Statistical and Methodological Myths and Urban Legends: Doctrine, Verity and Fable in Organizational and Social Sciences

publication date

  • November 2014