the specific circumstances that lead to an effect
The character containing the Cause characteristic is concerned with what is behind a situation or its circumstances. This can lead it right to the source of trouble, the source of control. However, sometimes many things came together to create a particular effect. In that case, the Cause characteristic may fail by either looking for a single source or trying to address them all while ignoring the option of simply dealing with the effect.
syn. reason for, effector, source, agent, antecedent