How to Write a Causal Analysis Essay
People's interest in causal relationships develops early -- that's why toddlers are constantly asking, "Why?" A causal analysis or cause-effect essay examines the causes or consequences of actions or events -- why they happen or what the effects are. Careful consideration of the topic, support and structure of the essay make the causal relationship clearer to the reader.
Decide on a Topic
To focus on causes, consider why events transpire as they do. You might write about why you chose your college, what events triggered World War II or why people choose online learning. Think carefully about what causes reasonably led to the result and why. To focus on effects, consider the consequences and their significance. Potential topics include the effects of a broken home on children, the impact an excellent or poor teacher or boss can have on you or the ramifications of dropping out of high school.
Create a Thesis
Explain the causal relationship your paper will focus on in a single sentence, your thesis statement. The thesis should explain the overall point of the essay and the ideas you will use for support in a logical, clear manner. An essay on causes might use the thesis, "The primary causes of World War II were the German invasion of Poland, the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations." The statement reasonably does not assert these are the only causes, and it clearly establishes the concepts the paper will include.
Develop and Organize
Develop the paper with one body paragraph for each cause or effect listed in the thesis. Use specific examples to explain the connections, illustrating the chain of events in the causal relationship. For example, a paper focusing on effects might contain a paragraph about how exercise helps diabetics by increasing muscle mass. The paragraph would need to explain that muscles store glucose more effectively than fat does, helping to reduce blood sugar levels. Clarify the cause-effect relationship rather than presenting a comparison/contrast, explaining a process or defining categories.
Add Finishing Touches
Create an introductory paragraph that gets the reader's attention through a hook such as a quote or statistic -- any concept that sets up your causal connection. An essay about the causes of the American Civil War might begin by saying most people believe the cause was slavery, but the truth is more complex. Place the thesis at the end of the introduction. Then develop a concluding paragraph that summarizes the connections you have made and emphasizes your point about the cause-effect relationship. The Civil War paper might end with the idea that understanding the causes helps the country avoid another such conflict. Always proofread carefully after finishing your draft.
Kristie Sweet has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado.