Deductive and Inductive Reasoning

Deductive Reasoning: The Definition, the Process

I was first introduced to the idea of deductive reasoning my freshman year of college in a psychology class.  After many years passing, I had forgotten about the concept until Dr. Beach reiterated the definition while explaining this assignment.  After doing some brief research online I found the exact definition of deductive reasoning.  According to the website socialresearchmethods.net deductive reasoning is the process of working from the broad to the more precise (Trochim, 2006).  This type of reasoning is often referred to as the top-down approach (W. Beach, personal communication, February 28, 2008).  After my online search I decided to look at the Research Design textbook for a detailed explanation of deductive reasoning.  Creswell (2003) explains deductive reasoning is used with the quantitative research method.  The deductive process starts with a test or verification of a theory, moves to a test of the hypothesis, then defines and operationalizes the variables and concludes with measure or observation of the variables with an instrument to get scores (Creswell, 2003).  After my research I concluded deductive reasoning involves developing a theory and testing it to confirm the theory’s validity.

Inductive Reasoning: The Definition, the Process

My research on inductive reasoning showed the definition to be just the opposite of deductive reasoning.  Trochim (2006) defines inductive reasoning as moving from the precise to the broad.  This approach is often referred to as bottom-up (W. Beach, personal communication, February 28, 2008).   Creswell (2003) explains inductive logic is used in the qualitative research method.  The inductive process starts with the researcher gathering information, open ended questions are asked, then an analysis of data occurs, patterns are examined and then a broad generalization is made (Creswell, 2003).  After my research I concluded inductive reasoning involves observing first and developing a theory from your observation.

Inductive and Deductive Reasoning: Similar or Different?

Further research on Trochim’s (2006) website led me to find the similarities and differences between inductive and deductive reasoning.   Inductive and deductive reasoning are the same because they involve the same three major parts.  They both have a theory, a hypothesis and an observation (Trochim, 2006).  They are different because inductive reasoning has pattern, and deductive reasoning involves a confirmation (Trochim, 2006).  The most distinctive differences between the two reasonings are their orders.  Inductive reasoning starts with an observation, which develops a pattern, that helps form the hypothesis and concludes with a theory (Trochim, 2006).  Deductive reasoning starts with a theory, which develops into a hypothesis, then an observation is made which gives a confirmation (Trochim, 2006).

Inductive and Deductive Reasoning in Gorham and Millette’s article and Dobo’s article

Gorham and Millette (1997) used the qualitative method; therefore they used inductive reasoning in their article. Gorham and Millette (1997) worked from the bottom up by first asking open-ended questions about student and teacher motivation to teachers, and collecting the data.  Then they specifically looked for patterns and similarities when they compared their results to past studies on student and teacher motivation. Gorham and Millette (1997) concluded by making the generalization that “people who are ‘motivated’ to achieve a specific goal will be ‘motivated’ to choose to do things that will achieve that goal” (Gorham & Millette, 1997, p. 245).

Dobo’s (1996) article used the quantitative method so she used deductive reasoning in her argument.  Dobos worked from the top down by first hypothesizing “students’ pre-session communication expectations and communication apprehension relative to the other group members can influence the extent to which the task experience is self-rewarding or intrinsically motivating for the individual student” (Dobos, 1996, p. 119). Then she tested her hypothesis by examining student interaction in different group activities.  Finally Dobos (1996) did a statistical analysis to conclude.

Discussion Questions

Throughout my research on theories and methods I was concerned there were parts I was leaving out that were significant to proving my points.  I am not sure if my definition of theories is complete enough for the communication field.  Is the definition of theory the same as the definition of theory in communication?  My research proved this to be true, but I concluded this from an amateur perspective on communication.

Another major concern I had was with the quality of my method explanation.  The Research Design textbook had three chapters on different methods used in communication.  This literature consists of less than one page explaining what method is and how it is used.  Does my explanation of methods include enough information to be sufficient? Methods seem to be so multifaceted that it is difficult to include and understand every detail needed to prove a definition complete.

Flaws and Implications for the Future

Flaws in this literature could be due to the examination of new information from an amateur perspective.  The definitions of theories and methods may not be as complete as need be for sufficient research.  A more in depth study of what communication theory and method are could be conducted.  It might be helpful to ask communication scholars for their definitions and explanations of theories and methods.  A communication scholar could give information about theories and methods from an experienced level because they have applied these concepts to real research.

Other flaws occurring in this literature could be due to the fact that a limited amount of articles were examined.  In the future, a greater number of articles could be compared and analyzed to make the points addressed stronger.  Also, the articles could be analyzed in more depth.  This literature did not dig deep into the articles.  It only skimmed the surface of the articles by looking at key words, explaining the methods they used and briefly mentioning if the methods used were effective in proving the theories.  This literature could talk more about why each article was effective.

This assignment gave me the opportunity to explore how and why research is conducted in the communication field.  The information that I have found on theories and methods will stay with me throughout my studies in graduate school, and beyond.  I now have a foundation for all the articles I have been reading and will read in the future.  This assignment will be a good resource to use as I read articles throughout graduate school.