Enhance Your Decision-Making With Deductive Reasoning

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 June 2021

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.

Deduction is a logical thinking skill that enhances quick decision-making in the workplace. If you're in a leadership role or a position that requires excellent analytical skills, deduction can improve your performance and efficiency. Understanding the key methods of effective reasoning by deduction can allow you to become a more reliable employee, a characteristic most recruiters find impressive.

In this article, we discuss what deductive reasoning is, why it's important, when to use the skill, the different types and how to use deduction with relevant examples for professionals.

What is deductive reasoning?

Deductive reasoning, also known as a deduction, is a form of logical thinking that allows you to draw realistic conclusions from the evidence you have available. It relies on several hypotheses that you believe to be true that then informs the truth of other assumptions. You can think of the process as top-down reasoning, where if your assumption relates to the original truth, then any other assumptions that show some similarity is presumably true, too.

For example, a marketing professional can use deduction to evaluate different marketing strategies. If they find their customer base tends to avoid products in a certain colour, they can assume that the lacklustre results of their recent product launch maybe because of its undesirable colour. We can draw this conclusion because of the reliable data supporting the first truth. So long as you base the original premises on accurate information, it's likely that the presumed outcome is true, too.

Why is deduction important

Deduction is important because it helps us draw specific conclusions from a general idea. This speeds up the process of decision-making, especially in urgent circumstances. Here's a summary of the benefits of using deduction at work:

Explains causal relationships

In business, it's important to determine trends to make predictions and sustain operations. Reasoning by deduction allows us to observe correlations in customer behaviour and operating procedures. This is an essential skill in our ability to recognise problems and work towards appropriate solutions. Although much of deduction occurs naturally to us, practising this skill can prevent us from making errors in our judgement.

Generalises research findings

When working with many data points, deduction can allow you to quickly generalise your research findings. This can be crucial when assessing the contributors to a problem in order to find an urgent solution. Generalising your findings helps you make better decisions in the future, too. It can encourage you to draw from your own experience to confirm whether your assumption is true and whether it suits the current situation.

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When to use deduction

Learning to apply deduction at work can increase your reliability, meaning that employers can depend on you to handle sizeable responsibilities. It allows you to make better judgements, especially in life-defining circumstances, such as when accepting a job offer, hiring new co-workers or collaborating with customers. Thus, you can use deduction in the workplace to complement the following skills:

Problem-solving

Deduction can help you overcome challenges by taking different approaches into account. It speeds up the process as the skill allows you to rule out risky and unrealistic solutions. This type of reasoning can reduce guesswork and therefore can minimise human error.

Teamwork

Many organisations expect employees to work together in teams to achieve results. However, teams often comprise people with varying work styles, which can hinder collaboration and reduce productivity. During a conflict, deduction can help you bridge gaps in understanding to make sure your team members are in alignment.

Customer service

You can apply deduction skills to the customer service experience, too. Using this process, you can determine an appropriate solution to a customer's problem. By identifying what the customer is unhappy with and then connecting it to what you know about their experience, you can adequately address their concern and increase customer satisfaction.

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Types of deduction

The following lists the different types of deduction that can help aid your ability to reach a realistic conclusion:

Syllogism

This type of thinking is when you conclude from two assumed premises that both share a common term with the outcome. The following is an example of a syllogism: all dogs are mammals, and all mammals have four legs. Therefore, all dogs have four legs. Keep in mind that the statement may not always apply correctly to every situation, but it shows how two assumptions can lead to a common conclusion.

Modus ponens

Modus ponens is a type of reasoning that uses the following formula, "if P is true, and P implies Q, then Q will be true." For example, if Andrew goes to work on Mondays and today is Monday, then Andrew is going to work today.

Modus tollens

Modus tollens is the opposite of modus ponens because it infers the following, "if P implies Q, and Q is untrue, then P is untrue. For example, if Andrew goes to work on Mondays and Andrew doesn't go to work today, then today is not Monday.

How does the deduction process work

A good way to visualise how deduction works is through the statement, "If A = B and B = C, then deduction tells us that A = C." Here are a few steps to help you understand the deduction process:

1. Theory

The first step in deduction is observing the surrounding environment. In a work setting, this could be a reoccurring problem or a unique customer trend that captures your attention. Based on this information, we can then begin to conceptualise a theory. In other words, this is the observable phenomena we seek to understand in greater detail.

2. Hypothesis

To determine the truth and relevance of your theory, you need to formulate hypotheses you can test. Successful professionals always try to find evidence to determine the reliability of their actions and ideas. This way, they minimise their mistakes and maximise their productivity. Usually, in deduction, your goal would be to determine whether a causal relationship exists between two hypotheses.

3. Testing

The most important step in deduction is testing. This stage gives you actual evidence that you can use to convince yourself and others about the believability of your theory. You can use different types of deduction, such as syllogisms, modus ponens and modus tollens, to examine how your hypotheses fit together. For example, you might want to test whether a variable that impacts your competitor's target market might impact yours and how observing them can help you make inferences about your business in the future.

4. Confirmation or rejection

After testing your hypotheses, you can determine whether the correlation between them is true or false. When analysing your findings, try to compare them with your previous experiences to evaluate the reliability of your deduction. Sometimes deduction can be too simplistic, leading to generalisations that are unbelievable. Therefore, understand whether your conclusion makes logical sense. If your hypotheses hold up, you can confirm your theory. However, if there are obvious red flags, you need to reject your theory and avoid any personal bias.

5. Modifying theory

Rejecting your original theory isn't something to be disappointed about. In fact, the process of deduction may reveal things you might have overlooked. Thus, the process can help you modify the theory to increase its effectiveness.

When modifying your theory, remember to establish new hypotheses for testing. Next, evaluate your results to determine whether to confirm your alternative theory or if you need to amend it once again.

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Deductive reasoning examples

Deduction can help you make more informed decisions in the workplace. Here are several examples of deduction that professionals can use at work:

  • Hong Kong requires all lawyers to pass the bar to practise. If I don't pass the bar, then I cannot represent someone legally.

  • My boss said the person with the highest sales would get a promotion at the end of the year. I generated the highest sales, so I am looking forward to a promotion.

  • Our biggest sales come from executives who live in New Territories. Based on this information, we have decided to allocate more of our marketing dollars to targeting executives in New Territories**.

  • One of our customers is unhappy with his experience. He doesn't like how long it takes for a return phone call. Therefore, if we provide a quicker response, he will feel more satisfied with our service.

  • I must have 40 credits to graduate this May. Because I only have 38 credits, I will not be graduating this May.

  • The career counselling centre at my college is offering free resume reviews to students. I am a student and I plan on having my resume reviewed, so I will not have to pay anything for this service.

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