Do I have an effect? Definitions, Examples, and an Infographic on Causal Language

Please find this post at:

Causal language is a term that gets thrown around often in peer reviews because causal language irritates many seasoned reviewers. I knew when I started these posts on causal analysis, that I wanted to write something on causal language. I googled causal language and looked at what came up – and I could not find any lists of words that were causal, or recommendations for what to use instead. So, dear reader, this post is intended to help you 1) when you are crafting your papers, and 2) when a reviewer says to you “this paper is trying to make too many causal claims”.

First, I wanted to give you an example of a causal claim, and I thought I would find one in my own work. In looking at a few papers, I found this statement in Kamp Dush & Amato (2005): “the influence relationship happiness on subjective well-being”. Why was my use of “influence” in appropriate? Because subjective well-being could have predicted relationship happiness of course! Any time your DV can reasonably predict your IV, stay clear of causal language.

But, what is causal language? I created a handy infographic on causal language below. Use this the next time you are working on a non-experimental paper. If you get a “stop – do not use causal language” answer, then avoid the list of causal words when you are writing about the associations between your variables.

Causal language infographic

8 thoughts on “Do I have an effect? Definitions, Examples, and an Infographic on Causal Language

  1. Great analysis! I teach a free course to Chinese grad students, visiting scholars, and postdocs about scientific writing. May I have permission to modify your infographic to be more generalized to sciences other than the social sciences?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Best website to USA Temp Number You can use U.S.A. temp number to receive free SMS verification OTP codes for creating Discourd, Facebook, Instagram account without using your phone number.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *