What Is a Cause and Effect Essay
The easiest way to clarify the cause and effect definition is by taking a look at an example:
Cause: Peter Parker stumbled into a hi-tech science lab and was bitten by a radioactive spider.
Effect: Peter became Spiderman and started fighting crime in New York City.
From the given example, you can tell that the cause is the fact, action, or event that caused something to happen. The effect is the outcome of the cause and the impact it makes. Thus, in a nutshell, a cause and effect essay looks at the reasons (causes) for something and then reflects the results (effects).
Why is it essential to master this type of essay? Cause and effect essays are a common type of essay often assigned in schools, colleges, and universities. Therefore, the first reason to master them is to keep up the good academic performance.
But there is much more to it. Cause and effect is one of the most common methods of organizing and discussing ideas. It is not only used in academic papers, but in everyday life as well. For example, while making a presentation at work, a specialist will likely use cause and effect organization to explain why the company’s current performance indicators are the way they are and what results they can bring. Thus, mastering cause and effect essay writing is vital.
The main thing to remember when choosing a topic is that it must represent a scenario in which a particular fact, event, or action leads to another. In other words, you need to ensure that there is a cause and effect chain that you can disclose in your paper.
As long as you keep that one key tip in mind, your choice of topic is quite unlimited. You are free to write about whatever feels engaging and important to you. Keep in mind that the key characteristics of good cause and effect essay topics are:
There are 4 simple steps to find your perfect essay topic:
- Start with brainstorming. Think of general ideas that pop into your mind and write them down.
- Pick the idea you like most and that is within your range of interests.
- Narrow down the general concept to something more specific.
- For example, if your general idea was “The Correlation between Mental and Physical Health”, you can narrow it down to something like “The Effect of Stress on the Immunity Systems of College Students.” Now, if you compare these two topics, it is clear that they focus on the same issue, but the second one is much more accurate and, therefore, more manageable.
- Create a concise, straight to the point, clear, and engaging title.
Following these tips and steps, you can choose the right topic for your essay. However, if you are still lacking fresh ideas, let us give you some ideas for essay topics from different fields, to begin with:
- How does junk food influence a person’s energy levels?
- The effect of high blood pressure on the human heart
- Why do social media and the beauty standards it creates result in eating disorders among teens?
- The influence of divorce on children’s mental health
- Ozone concentration in the air promotes lung diseases like chronic bronchitis and asthma
- The impact of natural disasters in Australia on the wildlife population in the area
- How does the increase in water contamination influence marine life?
- The influence of the temperature increase across the globe on the growing prevalence of cholera and malaria
- How does human behavior promote climate change?
- The results of possible extinctions of endangered species
- How can learning the Mandarin boost cognitive ability and memory?
- The impact of social media on modern society
- How does advertising impact brand image?
- The role of pop-music in a personality development
- How movies influence teens’ behaviors?
- The results of cheating in college papers
- How can modern teaching methodologies boost students’ performance?
- The impact of gamified learning experiences on early education
- How can the choice of college influence your personality?
- The influence of one’s first teacher on a person’s future academic performance
- Optimism and a positive attitude can boost immunity
- How does a growing bicycle trend help manage traffic jams?
- Playing video games can result in an increased IQ
- How can a single YouTube video make you popular?
- The impact of having a pet on a person’s wellbeing
Cause and Effect Essay Outline
Now that you know the definition of the cause and effect essay and have a few topic ideas in mind, we can move on to the next step — creating an outline for your paper. Soon we will give you some examples of cause and effect essay outlines, but let’s start with defining the appropriate structure for such a paper.
There are two types of structures you can use here: a block or a chain structure. The block structure implies keeping all of the causes at the beginning of your essay, followed by the effects.
Here is an example of an outline for an essay written in the block structure on the causes and effects of bullying:
1. Introduction with an engaging hook
- Bullying is a pressing issue in the modern world. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, more than one out of five students report being bullied.
2. Main Body
- Cause #1: Bullies’ behavior is often explained by their desire to get noticed
- Cause #2: Problems at home can provoke bullying
- Transition: Bullying is a global issue that has a number of short and long-term effects on society
- Effect #1: Bullying can result in poorer mental health
- Effect #2: Bullying lowers students’ self-esteem, turning them into insecure adults
- Bullying is a big issue in the modern world that needs to be addressed properly to ensure a friendly and positive environment for everyone.
Unlike the block structure, the chain structure implies that each cause is followed immediately by the effect. As a rule in this structure, each effect then becomes the next cause, therefore forming a sort of a “chain”.
Here is a sample outline for this structure:
- Bullying can turn victims into bullies.
2. Main Body
- Cause #1 & Effect of Cause #1: Some of the main causes of bullying are problems at home -> One of the long-term effects of bullying is self-destructive behavior
- Cause #2 & Effect of Cause #2: Self-destructive behavior often turns victims of bullying into bullies themselves -> Bullying can develop psychological post-trauma disorders
- Cause #3 & Effect of Cause #3: Psychological post-trauma disorders often cause problems in victims’ own families -> This results in unfriendly home environments for children and may trigger another level of bullying
- The causes and effects of bullying are so closely related that they can create a vicious circle of trauma that result in more bullying, which makes handling this issue especially difficult.
How to pick the right structure: Unless you have any specific requirements in terms of structure, how to organize the paper is up to you. Usually, the block structure fits best to shorter essays as it is more clear, while the chain structure is good for ensuring that all effects in a paper relate directly to given causes.
Now, let’s get more specific on how to create an outline. Just in case you are wondering why you should create an outline, the answer is simple — it helps to organize the writing process and makes it super simple.
There are three common ways to organize a cause and effect essay: Multiple Causes One Effect, One Cause Multiple Effects, and the Domino Pattern.
Multiple Causes One Effect
This pattern works best for topics that imply multiple reasons come together to create a single result.
- Bullies are lonely and misunderstood
2. Main Body
- Cause #1: Child is screamed at by his dad
- Cause #2: Child performs poorly at school, gets low grades and lots of detention
- Cause #3: Child is attracted to kids like him, becoming a bully
- The bully takes his anger and pain out others
One Cause Multiple Effects
This pattern is the right choice for topics that discover how one cause sparks a chain reaction of effects.
- A bully takes his anger and pain out others
2. Main Body
- Effect #1: The child who was bullied gets physically abused
- Effect #2: That child starts hating other kids and staying away from parties, etc.
- Effect #3: That child invests time into working on their dream
- The victim of bullying ends up succeeding later on in life as a result of their early adopted work ethic
This last way to organize a cause and effect essay is your best bet if you have a chain of events that leads to other things. This is the most fast-paced pattern. Thus, it is a wise choice if you want to create an engaging and dynamic essay.
- Bully is shouted at by his father
2. Main Body
- Causal link #1: Bully goes to school sad and does poorly in class
- Causal link #2: Bully’s bad performance puts him in detention
- Causal link #3: After the detention, he sees the another child on the playground having fun, making him angry
- Causal link #4: Bully makes fun of the the other child and feels better afterward, having released some tension
- Causal link #5: Bully goes back to his depressing home, the cycle repeats the next day
- Bad parenting can turn good kids into bullies, harming the community
Cause and Effect Essay in 5 Steps
1. Get Familiar With Instructions
First and foremost, make sure you are well familiar with your teacher’s requirements. Carefully read the instructions that you are given and keep them in mind while writing.
2. Choose Your Topic
The next step to make is choosing a topic. There is no reason to restate how to pick a good topic, so follow the tips given earlier. Most importantly — choose what you are interested in.
Take some time to write all of your ideas on paper. This will help you see what you’ve got to work with, help find a starting point, and help you decide on how to fluidly introduce each of your points.
4. Define Relevant Causes and Effects
Before you can start to write an outline, look once more at your topic and ideas and answer the following questions:
What caused those particular things to happen? – to define your causes;
What are the outcomes of this? – to define your effects.
Example causes of bullying:
Desire to get noticed; taking anger out on others; aggressive personality; problems at home; troubles at school, revenge; etc.
Example effects of bullying:
Low self-confidence; psychological post-trauma disorders; stress; depression; abnormal fears; alcohol or substance abuse; self-destructive behavior, etc.
Then, carefully analyze, evaluate, and prioritize the causes and effects you distinguished.
5. Create an Outline
Following the above-given guide, create a detailed outline.
6. Create a Thesis Statement
Build a solid thesis that introduces your main idea. Also, mention whether you are going to focus on revealing causes, effects, or both.
Bullying is a pressing issue in the modern world. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, more than one out of every five students reports being bullied. This essay discovers the causes and effects of bullying.
7. Collect Supporting Facts
To make your cause and effect essay flawless, try to find valid and significant supporting arguments for your causes and effects.
For example, if you are discussing the causes and effects of bullying, good supporting details would be bullying statistics, expert psychologists’ opinions, real-life examples, etc.
8. Write Your Cause and Effect Essay
Write an essay following the outline you have. Keep it simple and clear. Use appropriate and easy to understand language. Also, don’t forget to stick to the chosen structure and use smooth transitions between different parts of your paper.
Here are examples of transitional phrases and words you can use:
Due to, because, since, one/next/another cause is, etc.
As a result, one/second/another result is, therefore, thus, etc.
Extra Tips & Tricks
Now that you know how to write a cause and effect essay, it’s time to look at some extra tips. An excellent essay is not only about writing, the real craft lies in proofreading and editing. Hopefully this guide has been helpful, and now you can quickly write a cause and effect essay. That being said, here are some final tips that you should consider:
- Choose a topic that is interesting and significant to you. If you don’t, writing an essay will likely turn into a tedious task. Besides, your professor will clearly see a distinct lack of interest, which can influence your grade.
- Brainstorm ideas before writing. Mind-mapping all of your creative ideas on paper will help to get your thoughts organized and help you write a top-notch paper.
- Create a catchy essay title. We’ve got one: “Kanye must be crazy: What are the effects of not taking medication for mental health problems?” It’s both trendy and academic!
- Remember your purpose. Depending on the given instructions, you may be expected to either inform or persuade readers with your essay.
- Use valid supporting evidence to strengthen your essay. It is always good to include facts, examples, and other proof that support your ideas.
- Prioritize your causes and effects. Be sure to include only direct and clear causes and effects that add value to your paper.
- Use software to check for grammar and to help make your text easy to read. Tools like Grammarly, Hemingway, and Thesaurus are your best friends when it comes to essay writing! However, don’t neglect the importance of human proofreading though.
- Carefully check your formatting and compliance with other instructions. We have a formatting guide on our blog for reference. Also, do not forget to check your essay for plagiarism before submitting it.
- Give yourself time to take some rest. Get back to proofreading your paper with a fresh mind a few days after you finish writing it.
- Ask someone to proofread your paper. Don’t hesitate to ask friends or family members to take a look at your essay; they might offer some ideas you never thought about and give impartial feedback about the overall quality.