Cause/Effect Analysis

I. In a cause/effect analysis you divide occurrences into their elements and find relationships between them. You are trying to order experience and pin down relationships and connections within experiences and occurrences.

A. Causal Analysis: When you discuss events preceding a specified outcome.

B. Effects Analysis: When you discuss which effects followed a specific occurrence/resulted from a specific occurrence.

C. Both cause and effect can be analyzed separately or together (causal chain).

II. There are several types of causes and effects:

A. Immediate causes/effects (time)
B. Remote causes/effects (time)
C. Major causes/effects (importance)
D. Minor causes/effects (importance)

III. Problems to avoid in a cause/effect analysis:

A. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc reasoning: after this, therefore because of this—Just because one event follows another does not necessarily mean there is a connection between them.
B. Oversimplification: You need to consider as many possibilities as you can for your analysis. For example, most effects have more than one cause; many causes have more than one effect.

IV. Organization: As always, Intro, Body, Conclusion:

A. Introduction: describe or narrate the situation; provide your reader with the necessary background. You need to be clear about what causes/effects you are analyzing.
B. Body: Depends upon material and emphasis
1. Cause: begin your paper by discussing the effect(s)
2. Effect: begin your paper by discussing the cause(s)
C. Conclusion:
1. Restate your main idea—or state it if you have withheld it
2. Summarize the relationships you have covered
3. Answer the all-important question: so what? Why is this analysis significant?

V. Examples/Support

As with all of your essays, this essay needs specific, concrete examples to be effective.