Types of Causality
Dr. Philip N. Howard
University of Washington
There are six different kinds of causality within a model.
1. A direct causal relationship is one in which a variable, X, is a direct cause of another variable, Y (i.e. it is the immediate determinant of Y within the context of the theoretical system).
2. An indirect causal relationship is one in which X exerts a causal impact on Y, but only through its impact on a third variable, Z.
3. A spurious relationship is one in which X and Y are related, but only because of a common cause, Z. There is no formal causal link between X and Y.
4. A bi-directional or reciprocal causal relationship is one in which X has a causal influence on Y, which in turn, has a causal impact on X.
5. An unanalyzed relationship is one in which X and Y or related, but the source of the relationship is unspecified.
6. A moderated causal relationship is one in which the relationship between X ad Y is moderated by a third variable. In other words, the nature of the relationship between X and Y varies, depending on the value of Z.
From Jaccard, J., & Turrisi, R. (2003). Interaction Effects in Multiple Regression. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.