Matching Items (5)

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Estimating causal direct and indirect effects in the presence of post-treatment confounders: a simulation study

Description

In investigating mediating processes, researchers usually use randomized experiments and linear regression or structural equation modeling to determine if the treatment affects the hypothesized mediator and if the mediator affects the targeted outcome. However, randomizing the treatment will not yield

In investigating mediating processes, researchers usually use randomized experiments and linear regression or structural equation modeling to determine if the treatment affects the hypothesized mediator and if the mediator affects the targeted outcome. However, randomizing the treatment will not yield accurate causal path estimates unless certain assumptions are satisfied. Since randomization of the mediator may not be plausible for most studies (i.e., the mediator status is not randomly assigned, but self-selected by participants), both the direct and indirect effects may be biased by confounding variables. The purpose of this dissertation is (1) to investigate the extent to which traditional mediation methods are affected by confounding variables and (2) to assess the statistical performance of several modern methods to address confounding variable effects in mediation analysis. This dissertation first reviewed the theoretical foundations of causal inference in statistical mediation analysis, modern statistical analysis for causal inference, and then described different methods to estimate causal direct and indirect effects in the presence of two post-treatment confounders. A large simulation study was designed to evaluate the extent to which ordinary regression and modern causal inference methods are able to obtain correct estimates of the direct and indirect effects when confounding variables that are present in the population are not included in the analysis. Five methods were compared in terms of bias, relative bias, mean square error, statistical power, Type I error rates, and confidence interval coverage to test how robust the methods are to the violation of the no unmeasured confounders assumption and confounder effect sizes. The methods explored were linear regression with adjustment, inverse propensity weighting, inverse propensity weighting with truncated weights, sequential g-estimation, and a doubly robust sequential g-estimation. Results showed that in estimating the direct and indirect effects, in general, sequential g-estimation performed the best in terms of bias, Type I error rates, power, and coverage across different confounder effect, direct effect, and sample sizes when all confounders were included in the estimation. When one of the two confounders were omitted from the estimation process, in general, none of the methods had acceptable relative bias in the simulation study. Omitting one of the confounders from estimation corresponded to the common case in mediation studies where no measure of a confounder is available but a confounder may affect the analysis. Failing to measure potential post-treatment confounder variables in a mediation model leads to biased estimates regardless of the analysis method used and emphasizes the importance of sensitivity analysis for causal mediation analysis.

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Created

Date Created
2013

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Multilevel potential outcome models for causal inference in jury research

Description

Recent advances in hierarchical or multilevel statistical models and causal inference using the potential outcomes framework hold tremendous promise for mock and real jury research. These advances enable researchers to explore how individual jurors can exert a bottom-up effect on

Recent advances in hierarchical or multilevel statistical models and causal inference using the potential outcomes framework hold tremendous promise for mock and real jury research. These advances enable researchers to explore how individual jurors can exert a bottom-up effect on the jury’s verdict and how case-level features can exert a top-down effect on a juror’s perception of the parties at trial. This dissertation explains and then applies these technical advances to a pre-existing mock jury dataset to provide worked examples in an effort to spur the adoption of these techniques. In particular, the paper introduces two new cross-level mediated effects and then describes how to conduct ecological validity tests with these mediated effects. The first cross-level mediated effect, the a1b1 mediated effect, is the juror level mediated effect for a jury level manipulation. The second cross-level mediated effect, the a2bc mediated effect, is the unique contextual effect that being in a jury has on the individual the juror. When a mock jury study includes a deliberation versus non-deliberation manipulation, the a1b1 can be compared for the two conditions, enabling a general test of ecological validity. If deliberating in a group generally influences the individual, then the two indirect effects should be significantly different. The a2bc can also be interpreted as a specific test of how much changes in jury level means of this specific mediator effect juror level decision-making.

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Created

Date Created
2015

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Learning Causality with Networked Observational Data

Description

This dissertation considers the question of how convenient access to copious networked observational data impacts our ability to learn causal knowledge. It investigates in what ways learning causality from such data is different from -- or the same as --

This dissertation considers the question of how convenient access to copious networked observational data impacts our ability to learn causal knowledge. It investigates in what ways learning causality from such data is different from -- or the same as -- the traditional causal inference which often deals with small scale i.i.d. data collected from randomized controlled trials? For example, how can we exploit network information for a series of tasks in the area of learning causality? To answer this question, the dissertation is written toward developing a suite of novel causal learning algorithms that offer actionable insights for a series of causal inference tasks with networked observational data. The work aims to benefit real-world decision-making across a variety of highly influential applications. In the first part of this dissertation, it investigates the task of inferring individual-level causal effects from networked observational data. First, it presents a representation balancing-based framework for handling the influence of hidden confounders to achieve accurate estimates of causal effects. Second, it extends the framework with an adversarial learning approach to properly combine two types of existing heuristics: representation balancing and treatment prediction. The second part of the dissertation describes a framework for counterfactual evaluation of treatment assignment policies with networked observational data. A novel framework that captures patterns of hidden confounders is developed to provide more informative input for downstream counterfactual evaluation methods. The third part presents a framework for debiasing two-dimensional grid-based e-commerce search with observational search log data where there is an implicit network connecting neighboring products in a search result page. A novel inverse propensity scoring framework that models user behavior patterns for two-dimensional display in e-commerce websites is developed, which aims to optimize online performance of ranking algorithms with offline log data.

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Created

Date Created
2021

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Comparison of methods for estimating longitudinal indirect effects

Description

Mediation analysis is used to investigate how an independent variable, X, is related to an outcome variable, Y, through a mediator variable, M (MacKinnon, 2008). If X represents a randomized intervention it is difficult to make a cause and effect

Mediation analysis is used to investigate how an independent variable, X, is related to an outcome variable, Y, through a mediator variable, M (MacKinnon, 2008). If X represents a randomized intervention it is difficult to make a cause and effect inference regarding indirect effects without making no unmeasured confounding assumptions using the potential outcomes framework (Holland, 1988; MacKinnon, 2008; Robins & Greenland, 1992; VanderWeele, 2015), using longitudinal data to determine the temporal order of M and Y (MacKinnon, 2008), or both. The goals of this dissertation were to (1) define all indirect and direct effects in a three-wave longitudinal mediation model using the causal mediation formula (Pearl, 2012), (2) analytically compare traditional estimators (ANCOVA, difference score, and residualized change score) to the potential outcomes-defined indirect effects, and (3) use a Monte Carlo simulation to compare the performance of regression and potential outcomes-based methods for estimating longitudinal indirect effects and apply the methods to an empirical dataset. The results of the causal mediation formula revealed the potential outcomes definitions of indirect effects are equivalent to the product of coefficient estimators in a three-wave longitudinal mediation model with linear and additive relations. It was demonstrated with analytical comparisons that the ANCOVA, difference score, and residualized change score models’ estimates of two time-specific indirect effects differ as a function of the respective mediator-outcome relations at each time point. The traditional model that performed the best in terms of the evaluation criteria in the Monte Carlo study was the ANCOVA model and the potential outcomes model that performed the best in terms of the evaluation criteria was sequential G-estimation. Implications and future directions are discussed.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2018

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Evaluating Person-Oriented Methods for Mediation

Description

Statistical inference from mediation analysis applies to populations, however, researchers and clinicians may be interested in making inference to individual clients or small, localized groups of people. Person-oriented approaches focus on the differences between people, or latent groups of people,

Statistical inference from mediation analysis applies to populations, however, researchers and clinicians may be interested in making inference to individual clients or small, localized groups of people. Person-oriented approaches focus on the differences between people, or latent groups of people, to ask how individuals differ across variables, and can help researchers avoid ecological fallacies when making inferences about individuals. Traditional variable-oriented mediation assumes the population undergoes a homogenous reaction to the mediating process. However, mediation is also described as an intra-individual process where each person passes from a predictor, through a mediator, to an outcome (Collins, Graham, & Flaherty, 1998). Configural frequency mediation is a person-oriented analysis of contingency tables that has not been well-studied or implemented since its introduction in the literature (von Eye, Mair, & Mun, 2010; von Eye, Mun, & Mair, 2009). The purpose of this study is to describe CFM and investigate its statistical properties while comparing it to traditional and casual inference mediation methods. The results of this study show that joint significance mediation tests results in better Type I error rates but limit the person-oriented interpretations of CFM. Although the estimator for logistic regression and causal mediation are different, they both perform well in terms of Type I error and power, although the causal estimator had higher bias than expected, which is discussed in the limitations section.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2019