What is deductive reasoning?
Deductive reasoning, also known as top-down logic or dedution, is the process of reaching a conclusion based on statements that are assumed as true. You may recognize this as an if and then statement. For example:
If A = B
And B = C
Then A = C
In the example above, if premise 1 is true, then for the related statement, premise 1 must still be true.
Another example is as follows:
All frogs are amphibians.
Kermit is a frog.
Therefore, Kermit is an amphibian.
Logical reasoning skills, such as deductive reasoning, are very valuable as they are tools for solving tough problem, structuring arguments, and assessing critical. With that, organizations place a high value on potential candidates that have strong reasoning skills. In fact, some employers will even have candidates perform logic tests as part of the interview process to see how strong the candidate’s logic and reasoning skills are.
Deductive reasoning vs. inductive reasoning
Inductive reasoning, also known as bottom-up reasoning, is where you take general observations to draw a conclusion. With inductive reasoning, the conclusion drawn is only probably, but may not always be true. An example of inductive reasoning is as follows:
All software engineers earn over $100,000.
Thus, to earn over $100,000, you must be a software engineer.
In the above example, the statement is only probable, as one data point of an employee with a salary over $100,000 and is not a management consultant would prove the statement untrue.
5 steps for logic reasoning
To exercise deductive reasoning, you should take the following steps:
- Identify the issue – what is the question you are trying to answer or the problem you are trying to solve? Clarify your understanding by asking questions.
- Gather data around the issue – increase your understanding around the issue by gathering information around it.
- Formulate a hypothesis – a hypothesis is observation statement that is supported by another statement. Together, the full statement is what we will investigate. Following our software engineer example, a hypothesis could look like this: “Individuals with a computer science degree earn over $100,000.”
- Test your solution by implementing and or trying it – verify your hypothesis by testing for if it is true. Remember to also test for when it is not true.
- Evaluate your test results to determine if it proves or disproves your hypothesis – In our example, it is easy to validate that it is not true, as there are individuals who have a computer science degree and do not near over $100,000.
When to use deductive reasoning
There are many scenarios at work where deductive reasoning is useful. The primary use for deductive reasoning is problem solving. By stating a hypothesis and testing it, employees are learning what the solution is for that particular issue. Other uses for deductive reasoning include:
Decision making – the other common use of deductive reasoning is for decision making. Organizations can use deductive reasoning to make better decisions by determining what should be true. With better decisions, organizations can experience better outcomes.
Customer service – when an unhappy customer reaches out to the customer service team, it is an opportunity for the business to retain a customer by offering the right solution. To determine the right solution, customer service representatives can apply deductive reasoning to understand what the customer maybe unhappy about.
Tips for improving your logic and reasoning skills
Break problems into smaller chunks – the practice of breaking down problems into smaller parts can help with isolating out what are premises and what is the conclusion. Understanding these parts can help you determine whether the statement is true or not.
Practice logic problems – many standardized tests, such as the GMAT and LSAT, test for logic and reasoning. Practicing these questions can help sharpen basic logic skills for all the different types of reasoning.
- Deductive reasoning in the process of drawing a conclusion based on true statements.
- Having strong logic and reasoning skills is critical for important for solving difficult problems and making better decisions.
- Deductive reasoning can be improved through practice; standardized test preparation materials can offer different deductive reasoning problems for practice.
Getting People Right (GPR) is an educational website providing professionals from all types of businesses with practical education in entrepreneurial leadership. To keep evolving your leadership toolkit, additional GPR resources below will be useful: