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System Dynamics Glossary

What is the meaning of Causal loop diagram?

A causal loop diagram is a convenient way of representing the principal feedback loops and related causal relationships relevant to a particular problem situation, without distinguishing between the nature of the interconnected variables. In the first instance causal loop diagrams serve as preliminary sketches of causal hypotheses. Later, they enable the essential components and interrelationships to be summarised. Arrows are used in a causal loop diagram to indicate direction of causal influences. Signs (+ or -) adjacent the arrows indicate polarity, that is, how a change in the variable at the tail of the arrow will produce a change at the head of the arrow. Fundamentals of causal loop diagrams are described by Goodman (1989). For a detailed explanation of causal loop diagrams, see Sterman (2000: 137-190). For an exposť of the problems in the use of causal loop diagrams, see Richardson, 1986.

Other topics in our resources on System Dynamics related to Causal loop diagram include: 
  • feedback
  • causality (causal loop diagram)
  • polarity

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