a term which describes nonlinear causal relationships, in the way that the fluttering of a butterfly's wings in one side of the world causes the whirling of a tornado in another. Thus, a dynamic system also tends to be as sensitive to small, initial changes which can have large, causal effects. See chaos theory. Also sensitive dependence.

BUTTERFLY EFFECT: "The butterfly effect suggests that small, unnoticeable causes may contribute to huge, unpredictable effects."
Cite this page: N., Pam M.S., "BUTTERFLY EFFECT," in PsychologyDictionary.org, April 7, 2013, https://psychologydictionary.org/butterfly-effect/ (accessed October 21, 2021).