How To Use Deductive Reasoning

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 11 February 2021 | Published 26 August 2020

Updated 11 February 2021

Published 26 August 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

At your workplace, you may often have to make various important and difficult decisions that require solid reasoning abilities. That is why it is essential for you to understand the different reasoning methods such as deductive, inductive and abductive reasoning. In this article, we explore what deductive reasoning is, explain the deductive method, look at some deductive argument examples and show how you can use deductive reasoning in work, research and other professional settings.

What is deductive reasoning?

Deductive reasoning, which is also known as deductive logic and top-down reasoning, involves using general assumptions and logical premises to come to a logical conclusion. The deductive reasoning argument is that if you assume a certain thing to be true and there is another thing related to it, then what you assumed to be true for the first applies to this second thing as well.

For example, if you say that a group of people has certain traits, you assume that everyone in that group has those traits. To give another deductive method example, consider that you have a box that you know is large and that there is a washing machine that you can't fit into the box. So, you can reasonably assume that the washing machine is large as well. Going by deductive reasoning, you compare the information you have—that the box is large—with the information that the washing machine cannot fit into the box and come to the conclusion that, therefore, the washing machine is also large.

The outcome of this type of conclusion is usually true if you obtain it from information that is accurate to begin with. Because you assume that the two statements are correct, you can assume that the new statement they form is true as well. Similarly, any additional premises that you obtain from these can be taken as correct too.

The reliability of deductive reasoning

The reliability of deductive reasoning depends on the accuracy of the statements under consideration. So, if one or both of the statements are not true, the conclusion you reach using them will not be correct. Strangely enough, though, even in such a case, you can sometimes come to a right conclusion. Keep in mind, you cannot automatically assume your conclusions are 100% true at all times.

Deductive reasoning examples

To better understand how deductive reasoning works, consider these examples:

  • Customers are happy if they get prompt service at the store. We provide prompt service at our store. Therefore, customers are happy with the service at our store.

  • It is necessary to have a civil engineering degree to work as a civil engineer. If you don't attend a civil engineering college and get a civil engineering degree, then you won't be able to work as a civil engineer.

  • It is necessary to make 100 sales to make a profit. You have made 100 sales. You have, therefore, made a profit.

  • Our local Kirana store offers a 20% discount to people who are over 70. My grandmother is over 70, and she buys her groceries from the store, so she will get a 20% discount.

When considering these statements with deductive reasoning, you can take it that they are imparting accurate information and base your assumption on them. If the statements are correct, then so is your conclusion.

Other types of reasoning

In addition to deductive reasoning, you can make use of inductive reasoning and abductive reasoning in making your workplace decisions:

Inductive reasoning

Inductive reasoning makes use of generalised information drawn from specific scenarios to form an outcome that is probably, but not always, accurate. That is the case even if each of the first two statements under consideration are true. It is in contrast to deductive reasoning where you consider specific assumptions taken from generalised scenarios. Inductive reasoning is useful for forming theories, rather than being applicable to different scenarios.

For example, when you look at the people in your profession, you see that each person has a college degree. So, if you want to work in that profession, you will need to obtain a college degree as well. Going by these statements, you would think that the conclusion holds true. That may not be the case, though, especially if the statements you assume to be correct are false in the first place.

Abductive reasoning

In abductive reasoning, you take all the information that is available to you and use it to reach a likely conclusion or guess a possible outcome. However, even when you have the best and most current information, you may not necessarily be able to come up with a conclusion that is fully informed and completely certain. Furthermore, with abductive reasoning, you may not be able to test if the conclusion you reach is correct or wrong.

An example of abductive reasoning could happen when you are feeling ill. You have a high temperature, body aches and feel lethargic. You assume that you have the flu. However, you are not definite in your self-diagnosis.

The deductive reasoning process

The deductive reasoning process consists of using information that is generally assumed to be accurate to come to a conclusion. The information you use is based solely on facts and is devoid of emotions, feelings and any other non-verifiable information.

By understanding how the deductive reasoning process works, you may be able to apply it successfully to resolve the issues you face in your workplace.

The deductive method includes the following steps:

  1. Make initial assumptions. You begin by making an initial assumption that is generally accepted as true.

  2. Form a second premise. You then consider a second premise that is related to it. So, if the initial assumption is correct, then the second premise is as well.

  3. Conduct testing. You can then test the assumption in different scenarios and note the results.

  4. Come to a conclusion. Depending on what results you obtain, you can deem whether the information is valid or invalid.

When to use deductive reasoning

You may need to use deductive arguments at various points in your professional life. For instance, by applying deductive reasoning, you may be able to make better-informed decisions regarding searching for a job, accepting a job offer, interviewing a candidate for a job, hiring an employee and managing your employees. You may also be able to improve your customer relations and make the right business decisions. Additionally, many jobs specifically require candidates who have deductive reasoning skills.

With deductive reasoning, you can improve the following soft skills:

  • Problem-solving skills: Having problem-solving skills will help you overcome various work-related challenges and find suitable solutions for them.

  • Teamwork skills: Working with other people in teams is often necessary in workplaces, and it can sometimes lead to friction as people have different working styles. With deductive reasoning, you may be able to bring everyone on the same page to improve collaboration and increase productivity.

  • Customer service skills: Using deductive reasoning, you will be able to pinpoint the issues your customers have with your service and find the appropriate solutions to resolve those. Improving customer satisfaction will have a positive effect on your overall business and lead to more profits.

Using deductive reasoning with the STAR method

Most employers prefer to have employees with deductive reasoning skills, so you should try to demonstrate your reasoning skills during job interviews. Rather than inform them that you have the skills, you can give them a specific deductive method example using the STAR (situation, task, action and result) method.

In this method, you begin by describing the situation and problem that required deductive thinking. Then you mention the task you had to complete and what you did to make sure that your assumptions were correct. Next, you talk about the actionable steps you took for the task completion. Finally, you mention what the result was and if you were able to resolve the situation to everyone's satisfaction.

When you describe deductive reasoning with such examples, you are likely to make a good impression on interviewers. So, you should make a point of practising the STAR method until you can make your responses in a calm, confident manner. Even if you are not specifically asked to give a deductive logic example, having the skills can improve your chances of landing the job. Furthermore, the skills you develop will be beneficial after you get the job. You will be able to face challenges head-on, resolve issues, come to reasonable conclusions and improve your performance in the workplace.

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