The strain space multiple mechanism model idealizes the behavior of granular materials on the basis of a multitude of virtual simple shear mechanisms oriented in arbitrary directions. Within this modeling framework, the virtual simple shear stress is defined as a quantity dependent on the contact distribution function as well as the normal and tangential components of interparticle contact forces, which evolve independently during the loading process. In other terms, the virtual simple shear stress is an intermediate quantity in the upscaling process from the microscopic level (characterized by contact distribution and interparticle contact forces) to the macroscopic stress. The stress space fabric produces macroscopic stress through the tensorial average. Thus, the stress space fabric characterizes the fundamental and higher modes of anisotropy induced in granular materials. Herein, the induced fabric is associated with monotonic and cyclic loadings, loading with the rotation of the principal stress, and general loading. Upon loading with the rotation of the principal stress axis, some of the virtual simple shear mechanisms undergo loading whereas others undergo unloading. This process of fabric evolution is the primary cause of noncoaxiality between the axes of principal stresses and strains. Although cyclic behavior and behavior under the rotation of the principal stress axis seem to originate from two distinct mechanisms, the strain space multiple mechanism model demonstrates that these behaviors are closely related through the hysteretic damping factor. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.