Cause and effect essays are
concerned with why things happen (causes) and
what happens as a result (effect). The focus of
these essays is on building relationship between
cause and effect; what causes certain attitudes,
things and then the consequences or effects that
follow. It portrays reasons and an explanation
as to why certain thing happen concluding its’
Types of cause and
Valuation: Valuation essays focus on
issues of value or worth. This type of cause/effect
essay deals with consequences and often includes
essays that discuss the factors leading to or
results/effects of a decision.
Example thesis: My teachers at
Chattanooga State have forced me to evaluate my
priorities, develop self-discipline, and think
essays explain the unknown by reference to what
is known. This type of cause/effect essay begins
with a known cause and projects probable effects
or begins with a known effect and infers probable
causes. The analysis of the causes and effects,
therefore, are generally speculative.
Example thesis: Total nuclear war would
destroy modern civilization.
essays break a subject down into its constituent
parts for the purpose of understanding their function
in relation to the whole. This type of cause/effect
essay focuses on the major causes leading to some
effect, the major effects of some cause, or cause-effect
chains in order to understand the meaning of,
importance of, or significance of some event,
occurrence, action, or attitude.
Example thesis: The Civil War had lasting
effects on the American psyche.
essays explore the connections of some subject
with a larger context. This type of cause/effect
essay explores the broader implications to be
drawn or relevance of the causes and/or effects
behind some event, occurrence, action, or attitude.
Example thesis: The military decisions
and policies which led to thousands of soldiers
suffering months of anguish from Gulf War syndrome
reveal the need for a Congressional board of inquiry
into Pentagon practices.
When writing your essay, keep the following suggestions
- Remember your purpose. Decide if your are
writing to inform or persuade.
- Focus on immediate and direct causes (or effects.)
Limit yourself to causes that are close in time
and related, as opposed to remote and indirect
causes, which occur later and are related indirectly.
- Strengthen your essay by using supporting
evidence. Define terms, offer facts and statistics,
or provide examples, anecdotes, or personal
observations that support your ideas.
- Qualify or limit your statements about cause
and effect. Unless there is clear evidence that
one event is related to another, qualify your
statements with phrases such as "It appears
that the cause was" or "It seems likely"
or "The evidence may indicate" or
"Available evidence suggests."
To evaluate the effectiveness
of a cause and effect essay, ask the following
- What are the causes?
- What are the effects?
- Which should be emphasized?
- Are there single or multiple causes?
- Single or multiple effects?
- Is a chain reaction involved?