Causal Inference and System Dynamics in Social Science Research: A Commentary with Example

October 24, 2005

The focus of this paper is causal inference in social and educational research. A concern with causality has had a profound impact on the kinds of questions that may be addressed in research, on how they must be formulated, and on the methodology that must be applied. In the social sciences the prevailing experimental paradigm is used to address causal inference in a way that has forced a comparative or counterfactual approach, to the exclusion of physical cause. Recently, Lawrence Mohr has proposed a means of putting physical cause on an equal footing with the counterfactual, an achievement with important implications. In this paper, Mohr’s concepts are joined with the resources of system dynamics. Following a discussion of the concepts, an example from educational research based on physical causal reasoning and system dynamics methodology is presented and the approach assessed. (Contains 5 figures and 30 references.) (Author/SLD)

Read the Full Story