Cause-Effect Analysis

From: The Riverside Reader and The Norton Sampler

DEFINITION:

Writing a cause and effect essay is much like writing a persuasive argument; it is a form of reasoning that leads the reader step by step through a proof. Instead of proving the validity of the author's reasoning in order to promote the reader to action persuasion), however, an essay in cause and effect is concerned with tracing the consequences of an event and determining why an event occurred.

B cannot happen without A;

whenever A happens,B must happen.

 

PURPOSE:

A. INFORM and EDUCATE

B. Primarily SPECULATIVE: An author hypothesizes about what factors may be causing certain events or what the consequences of certain events may be.

C. The BASIS OF ARGUMENT

 

AUDIENCE:

A. INTELLECTUALLY CURIOUS READERS: These readers want to know how things work and why things happen.

B. PROBLEM SOLVERS: These serious-minded readers expect a rational and well-developed causal analysis.

C. PEOPLE WHO WANT TO KNOW ABOUT CAUSE-EFFECT RELATIONSHIPS OF THE PAST

D. PEOPLE WHO WANT TO KNOW ABOUT CAUSE-EFFECT STUDIES THAT HAVE OCCURRED -- history, biography, physics, sociology, politics, etc.

 

STRATEGIES:

A. Describe an action or event, and show what its consequences were.

B. Identify an important problem, and examine events or situations that may have caused it.

C. Isolate an effect, and then look for plausible explanations of what caused it.

D. Focus on two apparently unrelated phenomena, and speculate on whether there might be a connection between them.

 

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