Path analysis is a method for causal modeling . Consider the simple case of two independent variables x1 and x2 and one dependent variable. Path analysis splits the contribution of x1 and x2 to the variance of the dependent variable y into four components (paths): two direct paths - from x1 to y and from x2 to y :
and two indirect paths - from one independent variable through another to y :
The paths are expressed quantitatively as path coefficients - i.e. partial correlation coefficients between independent variables and the dependent variable, adjusted for other independent variables.