What is a Cause and Effect Essay?
A cause and effect essay is the type of paper that author is using to analyze the causes and effects of a particular action or event. A curriculum usually includes this type of exercise to test your ability to understand the logic of certain events or actions.
If you can see the logic behind cause and effect in the world around you, you will encounter fewer problems when writing. If not, writing this kind of paper will give you the chance to improve your skillset and your brain’s ability to reason.
“Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
In this article, we’ll find out how to create an outline for your cause and effect essay – the key to successful essay writing.
Types of the Cause and Effect Essay
Before writing this kind of essay, you need to draft the structure. A good structure will result in a good paper, so it’s important to have a plan before you start. But remember, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel: just about every type of structure has already been formulated by someone.
If you are still unsure about the definition of the essay, find that out with our guide: What is an Essay?
Generally speaking, there are three types of cause and effect essays. We usually differentiate them by the number of and relationships between the causes and the effects. Let’s take a quick look at the various kinds:
Many causes, one effect
This kind of essay illustrates how different causes can lead to one effect. The idea here is to try and examine a variety of causes, preferably ones that come from different fields, and prove how they contributed to a particular effect. If you are writing about World War I, for example, mention the political, cultural, and historic factors that led to the great war.
By examining a range of fundamental causes, you will be able to demonstrate your mastery of the topic.
Here is how to structure this type of essay:
- Cause #1
- Cause #2
- Cause #3 (and so on…)
- The effect of the causes
One cause, many effects
This type of cause and effect essay is constructed to show the various effects of a particular event, problem, or decision. Once again, you will have to demonstrate your comprehensive knowledge and analytical mastery of the field. There is no need to persuade the reader or present your argument. When writing this kind of essay, an in-depth knowledge of the problem or event’s roots will be of great benefit. If you know why it happened, it will be much easier to write about the effects.
Here is the structure for this kind of essay:
- The Cause
- Effect #1
- Effect #2
- Effect #3 (and so on…)
Chain of causes and effects
This is the most challenging type. You need to maintain a chain of logic that demonstrates a sequence of actions and consequences, leading to the end of the chain. Although this is usually the most interesting kind of cause and effect essay, it can also be the most difficult to write.
Here is the outline structure:
- Cause #1
- Effect #1 = Cause #2
- Effect #2 = Cause #3
- Effect #3 = Cause #4 (and so on…)
Cause and Effect Essay Outline Example
Let’s take a look at an example. Below, you will find an outline for the topic “The causes of obesity” (Type 1):
- Introduction: Nowadays, people are overweight because of their increasing consumption of unhealthy food, a lack of physical activity, and their refusal to work with fitness trainers.
- People are eating a lot of unhealthy food that is cheap, easy-to-consume and contains a lot of calories. (Include statistics: how many people regularly consume unhealthy food.)
- People don’t move enough. Causes: inactive jobs, laziness, and not enough information about the consequences.
- People don’t want to visit a specialist. If they did, they would be informed about the causes of obesity and offered a plan to solve the problem.
- Effect: Until those problems are solved, people will become more and more obese. (Include a prognosis about obesity rates over the next decade.)
- Conclusion: Junk food, a lack of physical activity, and a refusal to visit a doctor are the three leading causes of obesity. We hope that the situation will change. (Include some examples of what each person can do about the problem)
As you can see, we used a blended strategy here. When writing about the ever-increasing consumption of unhealthy food, it is logical to talk about the marketing strategies that encourage people to buy fast foods. If you are discussing fitness trainers, it is important to mention that people need to be checked by a doctor more often, etc.
How do I start writing once I have drafted the structure?
If you start by structuring each paragraph and collecting suitable examples, the writing process will be much simpler. The final essay might not come up as a classic five paragraph essay – it all depends on the cause-effect chain and the number of statements of your essay.
In the Introduction, try to give the reader a general idea of what the cause and effect essay will contain. For an experienced reader, a thesis statement will be an indication that you know what you are writing about. It is also important to emphasize how and why this problem is relevant to modern life. If you ever need to write about the Caribbean crisis, for instance, state that the effects of the Cold War are still apparent in contemporary global politics.
In the Body, provide plenty of details about what causes led to the effects. Once again, if you have already assembled all the causes and effects with their relevant examples when writing your plan, you shouldn’t have any problems. But, there are some things to which you must pay particular attention. To begin with, try to make each paragraph the same length: it looks better visually. Then, try to avoid weak or unconvincing causes. This is a common mistake, and the reader will quickly realize that you are just trying to write enough characters to reach the required word count.
Moreover, you need to make sure that your causes are actually linked to their effects. This is particularly important when you write a “chained” cause and effect essay (type 3). You need to be able to demonstrate that each cause was actually relevant to the final result. As I mentioned before, writing the Body without preparing a thorough and logical outline is often an omission.
The Conclusion must be a summary of the thesis statement that you proposed in the Introduction. An effective Conclusion means that you have a well-developed understanding of the subject. Writing the Conclusion can be one of the most challenging parts of this kind of project. You typically write the Conclusion once you have finished the Body, but in practice, you will sometimes find that a well-written conclusion will reveal a few mistakes of logic in the Body!
Cause and Effect Essay Sample
Be sure to check the sample essay, completed by our writers. Use it as an example to write your own cause and effect essay. Link: cause and effect essay sample: advertising ethic issues.
Tips and Common Mistakes from Our Expert Writers
Cause and Effect TopicsWhen selecting your topic for this essay, you should find an event, trend, or phenomenon that has a fairly obvious cause and effect. You can pick very big topics like World War II and attribute a cause and effect to it by not exploring every possible reason why it started and what its effects were. Just pick a few causes and effects that you can attribute to it and make some notes before you start writing.
For example, let’s say that you’ve chosen the October Revolution of 1917 as your topic. What are some key elements to this event? There are MANY but let’s pick war, living conditions, and political repression. Now let’s break these down further:
War: The Russian Empire had already killed off many of its young soldiers in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 and in the early years of World War I. The Provisional Government that came after the monarchy in February 1917 didn’t do much better in WWI. This resulted in people being angry about losing so many soldiers and resources for the war effort.
Living Conditions: Life for both the peasants in the countryside and the workers in the city was abysmal. This went hand in hand with an elite who used up many of the country’s wealth for their own personal pleasure. This resulted in people being angry for having so little while others had so much.
Political Repression: There was no political freedom in the Russian Empire. There was no “real” constitution, parliament, or elections that weren’t controlled by either the monarchy or later by the Provisional Government. Because of political repression, anyone who disagreed with the status quo was subjected to arrest, exile, or execution. People wanted more freedoms like other citizens had in Western Europe.
Other Cause and Effect Essay Topics
- How divorce effects children
- Why some friendships end
- The effect of the American Civil War on race relations in the US
- The effect of birth control on the Sexual Revolution
- The effects of poverty on people’s psychology
- Why first-year college roommates rarely get along
- The positive effects of a healthy lifestyle
- Why some romantic partners cheat
- How second-wave feminism effected gender relations between men and women
- The effects of drugs on prenatal development
How to Write a Cause and Effect EssayNow that you have selected a suitable topic, you can begin to write your cause and effect essay.
Step 1: You need to explain the effects by making appropriate links to the causes. This is where your breakdown of the topic will help you.
Step 2: Be sure to only focus on a few points. Too many will overcomplicate everything for your reader.
Step 3: Organize your essay
- Begin with your thesis statement. It should state the event, phenomenon, or trend that you want to explore in your essay.
- All of the other paragraphs should begin with topic sentences that explore one of the cause and effect aspects. In the October 1917 example, you discuss the war's cause and effects in one paragraph.
- End your essay by drawing your discussion together neatly.
Cause and Effect Essay ExamplesThe causes and effects of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia are enough to fill volumes upon volumes of text. However, I will explore three main causes of this revolution. These were namely war, terrible living conditions, and political repression. While there were other factors involved, these three basic causes created ripple effects that left almost no one in the former Russian Empire untouched and a country ripe for further revolution…
Many people wonder what caused the writer Fyodor Dostoevsky to transform from a potential revolutionary to a fervent skeptic of revolution and an ardent Russian Orthodox Christian. Pivotal moments in the writer’s life played a role in his transformation. This included the murder of his father by his peasants, his near execution that was only stopped on the tsar’s orders, his imprisonment and exile in Omsk, and his battle with poverty. Due to all of these factors, Dostoevsky was changed not only as a person, but as a writer as well…
- Proper formatting