In statistics, an interaction may arise when considering the relationship among three or more variables, and describes a situation in which the effect of one causal variable on an outcome depends on the state of a second causal variable (that is, when effects of the two causes are not additive). Although commonly thought of in terms of causal relationships, the concept of an interaction can also describe non-causal associations. Interactions are often considered in the context of regression analyses or factorial experiments.

The presence of interactions can have important implications for the interpretation of statistical models. If two variables of interest interact, the relationship between each of the interacting variables and a third “dependent variable” depends on the value of the other interacting variable. In practice, this makes it more difficult to predict the consequences of changing the value of a variable, particularly if the variables it interacts with are hard to measure or difficult to control.

The notion of “interaction” is closely related to that of moderation that is common in social and health science research: the interaction between an explanatory variable and an environmental variable suggests that the effect of the explanatory variable has been moderated or modified by the environmental variable.

The combined effect of two factors observed over and above the singular effect of each factor against the level the other factor. A significant interaction indicates that the effect of each factor on the response changes depending on the value of the other factor.


Wikipedia. Interaction (Statistics).