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Communication scholar Professor Zhao Xinshu wins best article award for mediation analysis

16 Oct 2013

Professor Zhao Xinshu holds his best article award. It was presented to him at the annual conference of the Association for Consumer Research in Chicago on 5 October.
Professor Zhao Xinshu holds his best article award. It was presented to him at the annual conference of the Association for Consumer Research in Chicago on 5 October.

Professor Zhao Xinshu, Chair Professor of School of Communication, recently won the 2013 best article award from the prestigious international academic publication Journal of Consumer Research for his academic paper focused on mediation analysis. 

The article, titled “Reconsidering Baron and Kenny: Myths and Truths about Mediation Analysis”, was authored by Professor Zhao and two others, Professor John Lynch, Ted Andersen Professor of Free Enterprise and the Director of the Center for Research on Consumer Financial Decision Making at the Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado at Boulder, and Professor Chen Qimei, Jean E. Rolles Distinguished Professor and Chair of Marketing, Shidler College of Business, University of Hawaii at Manoa. The article, published in 2010 as the lead article of the second issue of Journal of Consumer Research, has been cited more than 600 times according to Google Scholar. Among Journal of Consumer Research’s recent publications, this article was by far the most cited, which pushed Journal of Consumer Research to become the most cited journal in the field of marketing, according to an impact factor analysis of Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI).  

The article focuses on mediation analysis.  Mediation refers to a relationship in which an independent variable, e.g. diet or exercise, affects a mediator, e.g. body weight, blood pressure or cholesterol level, which in turn affects a dependent variable, e.g. quality of life or life expectancy.  Mediation is commonly seen in nature and in society, and is the focus of many social science studies across disciplines.   

US psychologists
Reuben Baron and David Kenny published an article in 1986, in which they laid out what later became the most authoritative theory and the standard procedure for testing and analyzing mediation. Professor Zhao, however,came to realise in 1999 that the Baron and Kenny procedure was based on an overly simplified view of mediation. The conceptual gap produced a mistaken procedure, Professor Zhao was convinced, which caused researchers to frequently reject or misclassify important mediations. Professor Zhao then began to develop a more comprehensive typology and a new procedure.  Professor Chen Qimei joined his effort in 2003, followed by Professor John Lynch in 2009. The three authors agreed that they contributed equally to the published paper.
 

Professor Zhao said he was pleased with the award as it could help to attract the attention of those mediation researchers in some disciplines who are not aware that the traditional approach is problematic and might hinder their research.