Writing Causal Analysis with a Reader’s Eye
Causal analysis essays must have a logical, believable
Otherwise they will not connect with their audience and
will fail to accomplish their purpose.
This should be considered when engaging your desired
audience with your writing
Think of audience throughout the writing process
Issues to Keep in Mind
The intended purpose of a causal analysis essay is to
explain a situation to the reader
Including both causes and effects may be difficult
What is the best way to present each cause or effect
Consider the nature and importance of each cause or
Weigh the causes and effects
Determine major causes/effect to focus on
Issues to Keep in Mind (cont.)
Do not mistake correlation for causation
Understand the relationship between simultaneous
Do not forget that all causes may have unintended
Choosing Internal Strategies
Internal strategies refers to the focus of the essay:
usually either on causes or effects
Good causal analysis essays avoid a narrow, formulaic
approach to their subject matter
You will most likely apply more than one internal
strategy to develop your essay thoroughly
Choosing a Topic
Keep in mind the scope of the assignment
Narrow down broad topics to make them manageable
Fully understand the topic, allowing for better analysis
Research may be necessary
Use an informal, idea-gathering strategy such as
brainstorming, clustering, or free-writing to develop
possible causes and effects
Revise results to include only Major causes and/or
Essay should reflect its pattern
i.e. Multiple causes, one effect
Or one cause with multiple effects
Using an outline will help indentify minor causes or
Introduction should supply both context and essay
Avoid being formulaic in analysis
Avoid summarizing in the conclusion
Instead give the significance of the topic
Evaluate the causes or effects and propose a solution
Is the purpose clear? Was enough background provided?
Is there a clear thesis, as well as clear topic sentences?
Is the conclusion effective?
False causes or effects
Correlation mistaken for causation
Examining a Causal Analysis Essay
“Black Men and Public Space”
By Brent Staples
A Closer Look at Causal Analysis
Questions to Consider
Is there an effective introduction?
Is there a clear and effective thesis?
What are the causes discussed?
What are the effects discussed?
Which one does the writer focus on?
Is there a good conclusion?
Does the author propose a solution?
“My first victim was a woman” 167
The author goes on to paint a vivid picture of a past
His topic becomes clear in the introduction
“It was in the echo of that terrified woman’s footfalls
that I first began to know the unwieldy inheritance I’d
come into-the ability to alter public space in ugly ways”
The author’s position on his chosen topic becomes clear
in his thesis statement
“I understand of course, that the danger they perceive
is not a hallucination” (168).
All out of his control
The author briefly discusses he has become used to in
his time in Chicago and New York
Passengers locking the car doors
Regardless of the passenger’s gender or race
Pedestrians crossing to the other side of the street
The author chose to focus on the causes of these
Multiple causes, one effect
Why an event happen
Discusses different causes that warrant similar
responses at the end of paragraph two
The author proposes a solution
“I now take precautions to make myself less
Also learned how not to become angry
Does not offer a solution to end the problem
How Does Causal Analysis Work?
The writer examines the causes and effects of a
3 different types
Three Types of Causal Analysis
Effects of past event
Why past events happened
Writer must decide whether to focus on causes or
effects depending on the chosen topic
Writer is asked to predict the effects of something
Businesses use this type before making decisions
i.e. What would happen if we raise prices 5%?
Also called feasibility study
Effects of Past Events
Focuses on factual events that can be both studied and
Tighter airport security
Negative feelings towards those of Middle Eastern decent
Why Events Happened
Focuses on the causes that contributed to an event
Why is it so hard to find parking on campus?
Four Basic Patterns
Multiple causes leading to one effect
Here the writer how the outcome of a particular
situation is the combinations of multiple causes
One major cause with multiple effects
This type of essay focuses on a single event that has a
wide array of consequences
Four Basic Patters (cont.)
Writer tries to rationally predict the effects of a
Explore both possible positive and negative effects
Here the writer explains the chain of events that led to
Causes are caused by the preceding event
A Bad Move Gentleman
Our college has a new policy, it’s a horrible policy: any student
that misses more than 3 ‘contact hours’ will be dropped from
their class. The effects are going to hurt badly individual
students: they will be punished unfairly. First in a three-day a
week class over 16 weeks has 45 class meetings, therefore, at least
42 classes must be attended orelse the student is dropped. Thats
too much. What if you get sick. What if your car wont start. And
besides everyone gets a day off every once in a while, dont they?
Students with too absenses could find themselves living in fear
because they know their on the edge. Moreover students, we, pay
the tuition that runs this school, who is the school to cancel us
after we’ve paid are money? The whole thing sucks if you ask me.
We putup with alot with this school anyway; bad parking , old
classrooms. What are they thinking? In conclusion, as I have
clearly pointed out, the new rules is too hard on students and
unfair toboot. Think it over gentleman.
Revisions- 1st Paragraph
Our college has a new policy, < Grammatical Error:
Comma Splice. it’s a horrible policy: any student that
misses more than 3 ‘contact hours’ will be dropped
from their class. The effects are going to hurt badly
individual students: they will be punished unfairly. <
Organization of words, Not clear.
First, < Grammatical Error: Comma needed. in a
three-day a week class over 16 weeks has 45 class
meetings, therefore, at least 42 classes must be
attended orelse < Spelling the student is dropped.
That’s too much.< Spelling What if you get sick. What
if your car wont start. And besides everyone gets a day
off every once in a while, don’t < Grammatical Errors:
Punctuation errors. they?
Moreover students, we, < Organization of words. pay
the tuition that runs this school, who is the school to
cancel us after we’ve paid are money? The whole thing
sucks if you ask me. We putup with alot < Spelling
with this school anyway; bad parking, old classrooms.
What are they thinking?
In conclusion, as I have clearly pointed out, the new
rules is too hard on students and unfair toboot <
Spelling. Think it over gentleman. < Sexist language
“Causal Analysis”. Howard Univesity Student
Handbook for Writers. Eds. Elaine P.
Maimon, Janice H. Peritz, Kathleen Blake
Yancey. USA: The McGraw-Hill
Companies 2010. 272-307. Print.
Staples, Brent. “Black Men and Public Space”.
Revelations. Ed. Teresa M. Redd, Carolyn E.
Shuttlesworth. Boston, MA: Pearson
Learning Solutions, 2010. 167-168. Print.