Difference between moderator and mediator

Learning the Difference between Moderator and Mediator with Example- January-2024

Learning the differences between moderator and mediator variable, becomes trickier sometimes for the researchers and writers. However, there should be left no worries or confusion, once you read this article which contains everything which you should know about mediator vs moderator.

In an experiment, the dependent variable is usually the variable which gets affected by the other independent variables, and which the researcher usually measures or tests by changing the independent variables. Whereas, an independent variable is the one which changes the position, status, or measurement of the dependent variable in the experiment.

Similarly, moderator and mediator are two independent variables which researchers specify to show relationships between the variables. The moderating variables affect the other variables by putting their impacts on the other variables. Whereas mediating variables show the relationship between the variables by explaining the causal relationship.

Mediator vs Moderator Variables

How to Define Mediator?

Definition mediate tells about the person or any factor which intervenes between the other two factors or persons, and brings about any change or difference. Mediating variable shows the relationship between the variables that how they are linked and what type of relationship these variables have.

In order to explain clearly, we can label the mediating variable as an intervening variable, which comes between the two variables and tells that how these variables are related. For example, if a variable A causes the variable B, then the mediating variable C will determine the factor which shows the kind of relationship which these variables; A and B have with each other.

Example of mediator variable

Mediating Variable Example:

What is a mediator? The Mediator definition tells about the intervening factor or mediating variable between the two independent and dependent variable, which shows their relationship’ kind and cause. So let’s look at the mediating variable example to understand the concept clearly: Mind maps, help the learners in memorizing and recalling the information more effectively and easily, as it invigorates and enhances their imagination.

While learning about how the mind maps technique used within the learning process helps the students in recalling and memorizing the information effectively. The mediating factor includes that the mind maps enhance the learner’s imagination. This imagination strengthens the learning process.

Mediation is the process in which the third party or factor justifies or facilitates the relationship between the other two variables or parties. It explains the reasons or causes for the relationship which other variables have with each other. These mediation examples can further be understood with the help of mediating model:


Invigorated and Enhanced Imagination
Mind Maps Effective Recalling and Memorizing

  • Mind maps as an independent variable is predicting and measuring the dependent variable; effective recalling and memorizing process.
  • Independent variable ‘Mind maps’ is measuring and predicting the mediator ‘Invigorated and enhanced imagination’.
  • The mediator ‘invigorated and enhanced imagination’ and the independent variable ‘Mind maps’, are predicting the influences on dependent variable ‘Recalling and Memorizing’.

Find more:  Moderator and Mediator Variable Examples

What is a Moderator?

The moderation definition tells that the moderator is the variable which directs or influence the overall relationship between the other two variables. Moderating variable directs the relationship between variables, which have the ability to either strengthen the relationship between the variables or to lessen the extent of relationship which variables have.

In order to define moderator, there must be two variables which have the relationship with each other, and in which changing one variable may change the level or position of other variable. Here the role of moderating variable will be to act as a third factor or party which also has the strong influence on shaping and directing the relationship between the other two variables.

What is moderator variable

The moderating variable can be in any form, it may either be a quantitative aspect, or a qualitative aspect. Such as if the moderator is in numerical form, and the changing in its numerical aspects change the relationship of the other variables then this is quantitative moderating variable. Such as age of the subjects, grades, height, income level, scores, etc.

Whereas, if it is qualitative moderating variable if it takes into account the qualitative data or qualitative properties of the variables. Such as gender differences, racial differences, ethnic differences, cultural differences, religious differences, educational differences, etc.

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Example of Moderating Variable:

Here will be incorporated two moderating variable examples to clearly explain the both types of moderating variable:

The researchers argue that learning multiple languages, improves learner’s memory capacity, but the age of acquisition plays a vital role in it. Learning at younger age improves the memory capacity more effectively than learning at the older age.

Here ‘age’ is the qualitative moderating variable example, whose quantity or numerical representation directs the relationship of learning multiple languages with the memory capacity improvement. The more the age is, the less effective the memory capacity will be.

The qualitative moderating variable example include:

The research shows that job satisfaction leads to improved job performance, however the job satisfaction criteria is different for men and women.

Here ‘gender’ is the moderating variable which will define that how much job satisfaction will be achieved, which will lead to improved performance. As, women get more satisfied with their jobs than men, so it will impact the perception of job satisfaction. Moreover, it will directly impact their job performance accordingly.

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Difference between Moderator and Mediator Variable

In order to understand the difference between mediator and moderator, it is important to clearly understand their concept. What is a mediator? Mediator is the variable which shows the relationship between the two variables, this relationship can be positive or negative. Moreover, it shows the causal relation between the variables, that how and why they are linked.

What is a moderator? Moderator is that variable which influences the relationship between the other variables. This intervening variable directs or changes the relationship between variables either by negatively or positively influencing them.

So, the main difference between mediator and moderator is that one acts as a process of defining the relationship, whereas the second one acts as a process of showing the influences or effects of the third aspect, on the relationship of other two variables.


Benefits of using Moderator and Mediator Variable in the Research

The use of moderator and mediator variable plays a useful role for the researcher, in terms of specifying the research and in terms of emphasizing on the relationships and influences of third factors or parties. The researcher uses mediating variable to emphasize on the relationship which two variables have. It helps in strengthening the understanding of the relationships and causal effects.

Similarly, the researchers use moderation variables to show conditions or to specify the factors which may influence the research outcomes and variables. They make the research strong, in which the purpose does not remain to commonly and generally studying the variables and their relationships. Whereas, it helps the researchers in incorporating various aspects within the research, different from the already discussed aspects.


1. What is another word for mediator?

Another word for mediator can be various, as it qualifies to be as a variable which acts as an intervening variable between the other variables, and which highlights the relationship between them. So, another word for mediator can be ‘intermediary’, or ‘negotiator’.

2. What does moderator mean?

Moderator meaning is someone who modifies or bring changes in something. So this definition can be further used to explore the meaning of moderator in research. Moderator means a variable or third factor, which affects the other variables and bring about changes into their relationship. Moderator variables can change the relationship by changing their nature and properties.

3. What are the important points to define the main differences between mediator and moderator?

Differences between mediator and moderator can be easily understood as:

  • One shows the link, whereas the other changes or influences the relationship and link.
  • Mediator further supports the independent variable to show its relationship with the dependent variable.
  • Moderator works as an influencer to direct the relationship and link which the variables have with each other.

4. What is mediation in psychology?

In psychology the mediation meaning is to get assistance of the third person or intervening party who may help the other two parties in solving the dispute or conflict. Moreover, in psychology it can also relate to the response which a stimulus or event can generate.

5. What is mediating effect?

As similar to the definition of mediator, mediating effect is the situation or process in which the third party or factor shows the link or connection which two variables have with each other.

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