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The Cause and Effect Reasoning Section poses a significant challenge within the domain of Logical Reasoning. Although the questions in this section are inherently straightforward, their design introduces a level of complexity that often perplexes candidates.

  • This section is a common feature in various government competitive examinations, including UPSC, SSC, Banking, RBI Grade B, SBI, etc. Consequently, it becomes crucial for candidates to thoroughly grasp this section. In the ensuing article, we will delve into the fundamental concepts of cause and effect in logical reasoning.
  • This exploration will encompass elucidations of key principles, solved examples, practice questions, and invaluable tips and tricks. Before delving further, let's familiarize ourselves with some basic concepts of cause and effect.

What are the Cause and their Effect?

  • Cause and effect are complementary to each other as the cause occurs so it’s an effect. In reasoning, a cause event often leads to a negative or positive event. Questions are designed to test the analytical and logical ability of a candidate.
  • So, in short, A cause is the logical and or scientific reasoning of an event that has occurred and the effects of this cause are consequences of the event. For every question, there will be two statements and students have to decide whether the cause is independent or a common cause and its effect. 
  • For a cause to be valid it must be sufficient or necessary. The necessary condition for an event to occur is a cause, which supplements an event to occur. Necessary conditions for an event to take place is the condition without which the event will not occur.

Introduction: Cause & Effect | CSAT Preparation - UPSC
From the above image, it’s clear that if the application is slow then the effect and causes are many for the application to be slow.

Scientific View of Causes

Now, what is the scientific view of the cause?

  • It is a scientifically proven fact that the cause leads to the effect
  • The effect should logically follow from the same cause.

Sufficient & Necessary Conditions

In a cause and effect question, the cause is the sufficient condition. It is assumed that the sufficient condition of the occurrence of the events must include the different necessary conditions as well.
A necessary condition is one that must be satisfied for the occurrence of an event.
E.g. You must adhere to the deadline to get your work appraised.

  • This means if you get your work appraised, you have to adhere to the deadline. Or, if you do not do not adhere to the deadline, you do not get your work appraised.
  • A condition is called a sufficient condition if in a certain event, you are satisfied with the results.
    Eg: Being human is a sufficient condition for being a mammal.
  • The act of being a human is not possible unless one is also a mammal. But it is not necessary that being human is a necessary condition for being a mammal.

Types of Causes

What can be the different causes?

  • Immediate Cause: It immediately precedes the effect. This cause shares the closest proximity with the effect with relation to time.
  • Principal Cause: The most important reason behind the effect. The immediate cause can be the principal cause and vice versa.
  • Independent cause: There is no relationship between the cause and the given effect.

Tips to Solve Cause and Effect Problems with Examples

Let us take the following examples to teach a few tips to master cause and effect.
Directions: Below each question are given two statements (I) and (II). These statements may be either independent causes or may be effects of independent causes or a common cause. One of these statements may be the effect of the other statement. Read both the statements and decide which of the following answer choice correctly depicts the relationship between these two statements.

1. If statement (I) is the cause and statement (II) is the effect.
2. If statement (II) is the cause and statement (I) is the effect.
3. If both the statements (I) and (II) are independent causes.
4. If both the statements (I) and (II) are effects of some independent causes.
5. If both the statements (I) and (II) are effects of some common cause.

Example 1: 
1. China became a hotspot for global manufacturing in the late 80s, and continues to be so till the present.
2. China has abundant sources of cheap manpower and natural resources – both of which are essential for industrial growth.

Ans: 2
Sol: The reason for China becoming a hotspot for manufacturing globally has been stated in Statement II. The factors of cheap labour and abundance of natural resources contributed to the industrial growth of China in the late 80s and helped it become a manufacturing hub. Thus, statement II is the cause and statement I is the effect. Here, the reason is a principal cause. The words ‘till the present’ also gives an indication that statement 1 cannot be the cause because the cause should always precede the effect.

Tip 1: To effectively answer a cause and effect question, we need to understand the premise under discussion. Here, the premise is China becoming a hotspot for manufacturing and its cause.

Example 2:
1. There is a possibility of snowfall in the next 2 days.

2. The handloom industries increased their production by 50%.
Ans: 1
Sol: The possibility of snowfall in the imminent future means that people will need to use woollen wear. To meet this increased demand, handloom industries will step up their production. Thus statement I is the cause and statement II is the effect. This is an immediate cause. Because of the possibility of snowfall, the handloom industry increased the production.

Tip 2: Sometimes, the premise under discussion is not very directly observable. So, we need to use our awareness faculty and take into consideration all the effects of a possible cause.

Example 3:
1. Anu was not granted a visa to the US.
2. Anu’s flight to Denver was delayed by at least fifteen hours
Ans: 4
Sometimes to answer the question, we need to differentiate between what is a cause and what is an effect. Here, both statements are clearly effects. Anu might not have been granted a visa due to some reason (like withholding information, or her having pending criminal cases). However she had no part to play in her flight getting delayed.  Indeed, flights don’t get delayed because of one person not having her visa. These things are checked at the immigration department either at the departing airport or the arriving airport. The delay must have been caused by some other reason then (like weather, or crowded airways or runways). These two reasons cannot be related even though the situations are related to the same person.

Tip 3: This is a good example to show that even if the situations are related to the same subject, they might not have a cause and effect relationship between them.

Example 4:
1. Aamir’s movie has crossed the 100 crore mark.
2. His movie has been nominated for the Oscars.
Ans: 5
Here, the reason for the movie being nominated is not that it has crossed the 100 crore mark. Vice versa is also not true. Hence, there is a cause for the movie being nominated and there is a cause for it crossing the 100 crore mark. The possible common cause is that the movie was very good and therefore appreciated by both public and the critics.

Tip 4: Do not try to always fit the statements in a cause-effect relationship. Sometimes, they could be just effects of a common or independent cause.

Example 5:
1. He had not paid the rent.
2. He has not arrived yet.
Ans: 4
Consider this example:
He has not paid the rent because he did not get his salary.
Here, ‘not getting the salary’ is the cause of the effect ‘not paying rent’. Hence, 1 is an effect. Clearly, this makes more sense than this being a cause as nobody would intentionally default on paying his rent.
Also, consider the following example:
He has not arrived yet because of the traffic.
Hence, ‘he has not arrived yet’ is the effect. This also makes more sense than it being a cause because there must be a reason for being later than expected.
These two effects are independent of each other and apply to different situations.

Tip 5: There are some situations which could be either causes or effects. The trick is to identify whether there is any specific effect mentioned in relation to the statements. If there is we take them to be causes. If not, they are most likely effects.

Example 6:
1. The Government recently increased the duty on mid-sized cars.
2. Last year the government had hiked taxes for all industrial activities
Ans: 3
Here, the two statements deal with two different things: ‘duty on cars’ and ‘hiked taxes for industries’. Hence, these two are not related to each other. They are not effects of anything. These rules may, however, affect other things like sales. Hence, these are independent causes.

TIP 6: Tip 5 is not a watertight rule. In this example, we see that the effect has not been mentioned, yet we are considering the statements as causes. In such cases, we need to figure out whether something can cause a wider effect than being a small effect alone. If it more likely causes a wider effect, then it is a cause.

The document Introduction: Cause & Effect | CSAT Preparation - UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course CSAT Preparation.
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FAQs on Introduction: Cause & Effect - CSAT Preparation - UPSC

1. What is the definition of cause and effect?
Ans. Cause and effect refers to the relationship between events or actions where one event (cause) brings about another event (effect). The cause is the reason or motive behind the occurrence of an event, while the effect is the result or consequence of that event.
2. What are some common examples of cause and effect relationships?
Ans. Some common examples of cause and effect relationships include: - Eating unhealthy food (cause) leading to weight gain (effect). - Lack of exercise (cause) resulting in poor physical fitness (effect). - Smoking (cause) causing lung cancer (effect). - Excessive alcohol consumption (cause) leading to liver damage (effect).
3. How can cause and effect relationships be identified?
Ans. Cause and effect relationships can be identified by analyzing the sequence of events and determining the logical connection between them. It involves examining the circumstances, actions, and outcomes to understand how one event leads to another. Additionally, conducting experiments, analyzing data, and considering potential factors can also help in identifying cause and effect relationships.
4. What is the importance of understanding cause and effect relationships?
Ans. Understanding cause and effect relationships is crucial as it helps in comprehending the underlying factors and consequences of various events and actions. It enables us to make informed decisions, predict outcomes, and identify potential solutions or interventions. Moreover, recognizing cause and effect relationships allows us to learn from past experiences and avoid repeating mistakes in the future.
5. How does cause and effect analysis benefit problem-solving?
Ans. Cause and effect analysis, also known as the Ishikawa or fishbone diagram, is a problem-solving technique that helps identify the root causes of a problem. By examining the various factors contributing to an issue, it enables individuals or teams to understand the cause and effect relationships involved. This analysis aids in developing effective solutions and strategies to address the problem at its source, leading to more efficient problem-solving outcomes.
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