Misleading Interaction and Curvilinear Terms

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This article examines the relationships between interaction (product) terms and curvilinear (quadratic) terms in regression models in which the independent variables are correlated. The author uses 2 substantive examples to demonstrate the following outcomes: (a) If the appropriate quadratic terms are not added to the estimated model, then the observed interaction may indicate a synergistic (offsetting) relationship between the independent variables, whereas the true relationship is, in fact, offsetting (synergistic). (b) If the appropriate product terms are not added to the equation, then the estimated model may indicate concave (convex) relationships between the independent variables and the dependent variable, whereas the true relationship is, in fact, convex (concave). (c) If the appropriate product and quadratic terms are not examined simultaneously, then the observed interactive or curvilinear relationships may be nonsignificant when such relationships exist. The implications of these results for the examination of interaction and quadratic effects in multiple regression analysis are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-247
Number of pages13
JournalPsychological Methods
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1997


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