In strict definition, an experimentally observable effect (on rates of reaction, etc.) of the transmission of charge through a chain of atoms by electrostatic induction. A theoretical distinction may be made between the field effect, and the inductive effect as models for the coulomb interaction between a given site within a molecular entity and a remote unipole or dipole within the same entity. The experimental distinction between the two effects has proved difficult, except for molecules of peculiar geometry, which may exhibit 'reversed field effects'. Ordinarily the inductive effect and the field effect are influenced in the same direction by structural changes in the molecule and the distinction between them is not clear. This situation has led many authors to include the field effect in the term 'inductive effect'. Thus the separation of values into inductive and resonance components does not imply the exclusive operation of a through-bonds route for the transmission of the non-conjugative part of the substituent effect. To indicate the all-inclusive use of the term inductive, the phrase 'so-called inductive effect' is sometimes used. Certain modern theoretical approaches suggest that the 'so-called inductive effect' reflects a field effect rather than through-bonds transmission.
See also: mesomeric effect, polar effect
PAC, 1994, 66, 1077. 'Glossary of terms used in physical organic chemistry (IUPAC Recommendations 1994)' on page 1124 (https://doi.org/10.1351/pac199466051077)