Reasoning is the process of utilizing one’s understanding to solve a problem or conclude an ideal solution. It includes using existing information to reach a logical conclusion. For example, it could be deciding to buy a smartphone through logic and rationality.
Reasoning is an essential skill that could help in an individual’s personal and professional life. From beginner to leadership roles, reasoning can help a person in making rational and logical decisions. Understanding different types of reasoning will support your knowledge and help you in your professional endeavors.
What Are The Main Types Of Reasoning?
1. Deductive Reasoning:
This reasoning states that we conclude or decide by a logical premise, that we assume to be true. It is also known as top-down reasoning. It starts from a general rule and then moves to its application. It says that if an original, general statement is true, the conclusion of this statement of issue must be true as well. For example, math follows deductive reasoning. Specifically, algebraic equations use deductive reasoning.
A simple example to understand deductive reasoning is I want to redesign a house and must get a contractor and an interior designer to design the house appropriately. If I don’t hire a well-experienced professional, I will not be able to redesign the house.
The most common type of deductive reasoning is syllogism. Syllogisms are combinations of 2 statements, called a minor statement and a major statement, that is used to form a conclusion or decision. If both statements are accurate, then it means that the assumptions or conclusions are true and logical.
If one or both statements are false or inaccurate, a person might reach a false conclusion. A common example of a syllogism is ‘All mammals are animals, ‘All monkeys are mammals; Hence, all monkeys are animals.’
Better decisions and choices can be made through the use of deductive reasoning. It is usually a safe and credible form of reasoning. Teamwork, hiring employees, problem-solving, customer satisfaction practices require the use of deductive reasoning.
It is used in research and science fields as well. Scientists develop law and apply it in actual reality, by assuming that the law must be true. You can use it to understand and collaborate with your employees and solve issues during teamwork.
Deductive reasoning can lead to faulty decisions or errors in reaching conclusions. If a major statement is false, the conclusion will not make sense. Certain mistakes can be made through the use of deductive reasoning. These mistakes are called deductive fallacies.
For example, Janet thinks everyone in the world loves Star Wars because people surrounding her love it. More of these common fallacies are described below.
- Appeal To Common Belief: When an individual believes something to be true because others are doing so, it can lead to a mistake. Others may be wrong in their assumptions. For example, forming an opinion about a football team or political party through only other people’s lenses can be wrong. Forming your own opinion and perspective is important. People around us can be wrong.
- Ecological Fallacy: If an individual derives a conclusion about an individual through group data, he or she can be wrong. Group data does not always account for every individual’s choices in the world. For example, forming a belief that all men love a particular football team just because a large number of men are cheering for that team can be a fallacy. Not all men might like that team.
- Exception Fallacy: Just like individual conclusions cannot always be derived from group data, conclusions or decisions about groups also cannot always be derived from individual data. For example, believing that all concerts are terrible and unbearable just because of one single incident or experience can be wrong.
- Appeal To Common Practice: When individuals believe that they can do something or it is okay to commit a particular action because others are doing it, it can lead to errors. It’s not always okay to do what others are doing. For example, believing that it is okay to scream or fight in public just because other people engage in such behavior is not okay.
2. Inductive Reasoning:
On the other hand, inductive reasoning includes collecting information and data to reach a logical conclusion. It is unlike deductive reasoning, which uses assumptions to reach decisions. It uses observations to make generalizations about the world. Evidence is used to form conclusions here. This reasoning is used to develop hypotheses or reasons for particular outcomes. The reasoning could be true or false.
For instance, Sherin joined a new firm and saw that everyone in her office wore proper formal every day for work. She concluded that formals are compulsory every day in this firm. Here, Sherin could be right, or she could have reached a wrong conclusion.
Maybe they wear formal on important meeting days only. In this reasoning, rules or assumptions are made and established through repeated experiences. This reasoning is used in statistics, probability and research. This reasoning can be further broken down into inductive generalization, statistical induction and induction by confirmation.
- Inductive Generalization: This reasoning uses past information that seems relevant to the current situation to make decisions or reach conclusions. For example, Simran has been coming first in her class for the last 3 years. Her classmates assume that she is going to top this year as well.
- Statistical Induction: This reasoning uses statistical data or information to make decisions or reach conclusions. For example, 80% of women I have met like pink as a color, so 80% of women in the world must love the color pink. It includes evidence to predict a future event but new, future events are not always parallel with past research, so it may be false.
- Induction By Confirmation: This reasoning uses specific assumptions and evidence to conclude. An individual might have a theory but he or she needs specific evidence to prove it to be true. For example, solving murder or robbery cases.
There are 4 stages involved in reaching a conclusion through inductive reasoning:
- Observation: Observing and noticing facts and information around you, without any bias.
- Analyzing: Identifying and recognizing patterns and categorizing facts for a better understanding of the data.
- Gaining Inference: Through identifying and classifying data, inference can be made about the relationship between the data. A generalization or conclusion can be reached here.
- Confirmation: Inference can be confirmed through further observation.
Inductive reasoning gives an individual multiple options to work with, to form a solution. Any number of assumptions or theories can be made through the available information or evidence.
Multiple solutions and theories can be generated by using inductive reasoning. It also gives people an opportunity to utilize past knowledge to solve current problems or make decisions in the present.
This reasoning gives you limited data to come to conclusions with. Even if the data is large, the conclusion could be false.
For example, you see 100 women buy lipsticks of a particular brand. You are likely to assume women all over the world buy this particular brand. You might be right, but you might as well be wrong. There is always a chance of error, even when the evidence and information is used to develop a theory or assumption.
3. Abductive Reasoning:
Charles Sanders Pierce, an American philosopher described abductive reasoning as a process of forming an explanatory hypothesis. This reasoning uses the available data or information to come to a conclusion or reach a decision. The best information available is used to make a decision. This informed guess could be true or false. There is no guarantee. The conclusion also cannot be tested, in some cases.
This reasoning involves inadequate information or data, which is then used to make a most likely or probable guess or decision. It is based on the idea of making theories or assumptions through the best accessible evidence.
For example, the diagnosis of doctors, the decisions of judges.
Abductive reasoning can lead to creative and innovative conclusions. For example, a famous painting or scientist’s work comes from intuition and abductive reasoning.
Abductive reasoning is not very reliable, not as much as deductive and inductive reasoning. It can lead to false conclusions, leading to serious errors and consequences.
For instance, a false diagnosis by a doctor can impact treatment plans and the patient’s health.
Related: What is Problem Solving?
4. Analogical Reasoning:
It is a type of deductive reasoning. This reasoning is based on an analogy or story. It includes 2 statements, situations or fields that have a common theme. So, there is a given problem statement or issue and the analogy is a story or example that contains the solution hidden in its words. Individuals are supposed to link the 2 elements or stories (the problem and analogy) to find a solution to a given problem.
5. Decompositional Reasoning:
It is a type of reasoning that involves figuring out or making sense of parts to understand the whole. For example, putting together a puzzle.
6. Cause And Effect:
It is a type of reasoning that involves using causes to understand effects. It can be used to understand things for yourself or even explain it to someone else.
For example, understanding that you are going to the office late frequently (cause) can drive your Team Leader dissatisfied with you (effect). Soaking the pulses overnight (cause) may help to reduce the fuel consumption, cooking time and ease up your meal-time (effect).
7. Logical Reasoning:
It is a type of non-verbal reasoning that involves thinking analytically and rationally to come to conclusions. Both abductive and deductive reasoning come under the umbrella of logical reasoning. Critical thinking is another form of thinking or reasoning that involves evaluating and critiquing a concept, event or problem to reach conclusions or solutions.
Logical reasoning and critical thinking can together be used to solve various problems.
For example, solving a police investigation case can be done through both these types of reasoning. A robbery case can be logically thought and reasoning can be used to narrow down alternative suspects and then critical thinking can be used to evaluate the options, coming down to a single suspect.