Cause and effect analysis addresses the critical question of "why?" It explains a chain of related events and conditions.
Given any string of related events or conditions, any one event or condition may be selected as the subject for analysis; that is, it can be the subject for explaining why it happened, what stream of events and conditions led up to it and what will happen as a result.
Terminology for Cause and Effect Essays
In his textbook on rhetoric, Patterns of Exposition, Paul Decker identifies four perspectives to guide the development of cause/effect analysis. These include "ultimate causes," "immediate causes," "immediate effects," and "ultimate effects." I have chosen to keep the terminology while I have changed the definitions. The distinction made here between "ultimate" and "immediate" is the distinction between "possibility" and "probability," or the difference between "anticipate" and "precipitate."
Development and Organization of Cause and Effect Essays
Like other expository essays, the cause and effect analysis is often framed in the typical thesis-support outline. That is, it will employ a traditional introduction, a body composed of developmental paragraphs with primary and secondary development, and a conclusion.
The content of the cause and effect essay is determined by the needs of the audience: what does the audience need to know: the ultimate causes, the immediate causes, the immediate effects, or the ultimate effects? As the writer, you need to be able to anticipate this need to know of your audience. In some cases, the role(s) of the readers will determine that need. One paper may develop a discussion of only immediate causes. Another one on a different subject might address a combination of all four perspectives: ultimate causes, immediate causes, immediate effects, and ultimate effects.
This page was last modified on September 13,