# Inductive vs. Deductive Reasoning

Updated April 28, 2023

There are two main types of reasoning: inductive and deductive. In this article, we define both types of reasoning and the differences between them. We also discuss how you can use both inductive and deductive reasoning in the workplace and during the hiring process.

Related: Analytical Skills: Definitions and Examples

## What is inductive reasoning?

Inductive reasoning is the act of using specific scenarios and making generalized conclusions from them. Also referred to as “cause-and-effect reasoning,” inductive reasoning can be thought of as a “bottom up” approach. For example, you might observe that your older sister is tidy, your friend’s older sister is tidy and your mom’s older sister is tidy. Inductive reasoning would say that therefore, all older sisters are tidy.

## What is deductive reasoning?

Deductive reasoning is the act of making a generalized statement and backing it up with specific scenarios or information. It can be thought of as a “top down” approach to drawing conclusions. For example, consider the statement “all apples are fruits.” When you introduce specific piece of information like “all fruits grow on trees”, you can then deduce that all apples grow on trees. Another classic example of deductive reasoning is the following formula:

If A = B and B = C, then A must equal C.

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Inductive vs. Deductive Reasoning:

On the Left Side:
Inductive reasoning is the act of making generalized conclusions based off of specific scenarios.

Examples:

• Determining when you should leave for work based on traffic patterns

• Rolling out a new accounting process based on the way users interact with the software

• Deciding on incentive plans based on an employee survey

• Changing a meeting time or format based on participant energy levels

On the Right Side:
Deductive reasoning is the act of backing up a generalized statement with specific scenarios.

Examples:

• Developing a marketing plan that will be effective for a specific audience

• Designing the floor plan and layout of a shop to maximize sales

• Determining the most efficient ways to communicate with clients

• Planning out a budget to get the highest output from your investments

## Inductive vs. deductive reasoning

Inductive and deductive reasoning are essentially opposite ways to arrive at a conclusion or proposition. The main difference between inductive and deductive reasoning is that while inductive reasoning begins with an observation, supports it with patterns and then arrives at a hypothesis or theory, deductive reasoning begins with a theory, supports it with observation and eventually arrives at a confirmation.

Inductive reasoning relies on patterns and trends, while deductive reasoning relies on facts and rules. Inductive reasoning follow a flow from specific to general, deductive reasoning flows from general to specific. You might use inductive reasoning when attempting to understand how something works by observing patterns. Deductive reasoning, on the other hand, might be more helpful when defining and establishing relationships between two or more entities.

## Using reasoning in the workplace

Both inductive and deductive reasoning are essential when collaborating in the workplace. Whether you are aware of it or not, you are constantly making inferences and drawing conclusions using both methods to make decisions, create ideas and improve processes. Here are a few examples of situations when you might be using inductive or deductive reasoning:

Examples of inductive reasoning:

• Determining when you should leave for work based on traffic patterns

• Rolling out a new accounting process based on the way users interact with the software

• Deciding on incentive plans based on an employee survey

• Changing a meeting time or format based on participant energy levels

Examples of deductive reasoning:

• Developing a marketing plan that will be effective for a specific audience

• Designing the floor plan and layout of a shop to maximize sales

• Planning out a budget to get the highest output from your investments

• Determining the most efficient ways to communicate with clients

## Using reasoning during the hiring process

Employers value candidates who can think reasonably and logically through a problem and develop a solution. As such, displaying your reasoning and problem-solving skills during the hiring process could increase your chances for getting the job. While it isn’t necessary to list it in your skills section, you can instead work your experience with reasoning into your resume summary, professional experience section and cover letter as well as in your interview answers.

Consider times during school, work or even volunteer experiences when you used reasoning to produce a positive result. Include specific stories in your cover letter. If your solution caused a measurable impact, include these numbers in your resume.

For example, you might have used deductive reasoning to conclude that your sales team should spend less time on several small accounts and instead invest more time in fewer, large accounts. On your resume, you could write something such as:

“Proposed new sales strategy that led to a 23% increase in annual revenue.”

Prepare for your interview by writing down two or three stories in which you used inductive or deductive reasoning to positively impact your organization.

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