(44) S. L. Sclove. Path analysis. In N. J. Salkind (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Measurement and Statistics (Vol. 2, pp. 745-¬748). Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, 2007.
Path analysis is a method of describing and quantifying the relationship of a dependent variable Y to a set of other variables. Each of the variables may have a direct effect on Y, as well as indirect effects via other variables. It is difficult to infer causation without an experiment, but by describing a system of interrelationships, path analysis can take a step to support cause-and-effect inference. Path analysis was originally developed by Sewall Wright for the field of genetics. It has since been adopted by virtually all the behavioral sciences and applied to a variety of research questions. Properly applied, it can be an aid to scientific, business, governmental, and educational policy decisions.