RPP T1 – Deductive and Inductive Inference


Research Part 1     Defining both Deductive and Inductive Inference:

Reasoning (inference) is used to confirm or disprove an original theory. A theory is manifested into hypotheses to be tested. Even though a research project may be constrained by hypotheses, it is still open to having it’s aims and theories changed by its findings.

Deductive inference is often referred to as the ‘top-down’ (i) approach and is to be based on theory. Deductive reasoning (deducing) involves narrowing down research through findings to clarify the state of what is researched, applicable from the general to specific.

Theory-Hypothesis-Observation-Confirmation – narrow confirmation bias (ii) to reach a logically truthful conclusion. The consequences of generalised statements/understandings are predicted to support a smaller-scale view – with deductive inference, irrefutable research is effectively optional as communication of a deduction may happen before the research.

Deductive inferences can be correctly concluded only if the larger-scope theory is true. Henceforth, (a deductive inference) deductive inferences are only valid in cases where the larger-scope theory is objective – therefore, although unsuited to subjective cases, the sciences are the primary providers of deductive inference’s validity. Where the initial premises are ‘true’ the deduction can also be considered as such.

Researching to draw conclusions from generalisation .e.g. Deductive reasoning would test the lower level hypothesis of a man being a mortal, from and before the larger-scoped one of all men are mortal.

With those understandings and an additional one in that no mortals can fly, deductive inference results in the conclusion that if the man is mortal and no mortals can fly, the man is unable to fly.

A team of researchers (ii) used deductive reasoning to hypothesize that, due to the prevalence (iii) of racism in society, race would play a role in shaping how university professors respond to prospective graduate students who express interest in their research. By tracking professor responses and lack of responses to imposter students, coded for race and gender by name, the researchers were able to prove their hypothesis true. They thus concluded that racial and gender biases are barriers that prevent equal access to graduate-level education across the U.S.” (iv) Ashley Crossman, [sociology.about.com] 2016

Inference is the assumptive or deductive establishment of information.

Inverse to deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning (induced) moves from specific focuses to broader questioning – based on observations. A ‘bottom-up’ approach involves starting with specific measures to detect patterns, correlations and/or irregularities on a more-focused scale to then develop understandings, conclusions or ‘proven’ theories on a more general scale.

With the dynamic of subjectivity provided by the use of observations, Inductive inference is unable to provide undisputable evidence in all cases.

In inductive inference, we go from the specific to the general. We make many observations, discern a pattern, make a generalization, and infer an explanation or a theory,” (v)Wassertheil-Smoller, Live Science, 2015.

Observation-Pattern-Tentative Hypothesis-Theory – open-end exploration to discover if a hypotheses is correct and, if so, how widespread it applies. With its bottom-up dynamic, inductive reasoning is open to inadequacy via the invalidity of conclusions – which are able to be disproved.

Researching to draw conclusions from observations.e.g. The man being mortal (and all avenues that root from that understanding/premise) is dependent on the validity of the claim that all men are mortals; the higher-scoped hypotheses of all men being mortal may be researched with poll-pool data and correlations instead of solely exterior-sourced evidence.

Scientific conjecture being inaccurate through generalisation and incomplete understanding/inclusion of factors. In 2011, a Japanese doctor (vi) scientifically induced an inference that women of a specific race were the least attractive by using research that considered only a small pool of low-exposed and disproportionately representative subjects. Due to its inadequacies, the research and its conclusions were unable to be taken as true.

Another type of inference or reasoning is ‘adductive’ (v), where the likeliest assumption is chosen from an incomplete set of observations. It applies wherever definitive or undisputable data views are unavailable.

e.g. A doctor’s diagnosis of a patient’s symptoms .. A law enforcers judgement that is based on an incomplete set of evidence.

To summarise the conclusions of my research:

Inductive inference involves research of the fundamental aspects of a conclusion, while deductive inference allows for exteriorly tested conclusions to determine a successive conclusion to be researched.



i.   Trochim, W. M., 2006. socialresearchmethods.net: Deduction & Induction. [Online]

Available at: http://socialresearchmethods.net/kb/dedind.php

[Accessed 17 2 2017].

ii.   Cole, N. L., 2016. socialresearchmethods.net: How Race and Gender Biases Impact Students in Higher Ed. [Online]

Available at: http://sociology.about.com/od/Sound-Bites-Research-In-the-News/fl/Study-Finds-Racial-and-Gender-Bias-in-Professor-Response-to-Students.htm

[Accessed 17 2 2017].

iii.               Cole, N. L., 2016. sociology.about.com: Definition of Systemic Racism in Sociology. [Online]

Available at: http://sociology.about.com/od/S_Index/fl/Systemic-Racism.htm

[Accessed 17 2 2017].

iv.   Crossman, A., 2017. sociology.about.com: Inductive vs Deductive Reasoning. [Online]

Available at: http://sociology.about.com/od/Research/a/Deductive-Reasoning-Versus-Inductive-Reasoning.htm

[Accessed 17 2 2017].

v.   Bradford, A., 2015. livescience.com: Deductive Reasoning vs. Inductive Reasoning. [Online]

Available at: http://www.livescience.com/21569-deduction-vs-induction.html

[Accessed 17 02 2017].

vi.   Kate Loveys, C. F., 2011. dailymail.co.uk: ‘Black women are less attractive than others’: Controversial LSE psychologist sparks backlash with his ‘scientific’ findings. [Online]

Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1388313/LSE-psychologist-Satoshi-Kanazawa-claims-black-women-attractive.html (Trochim, 2006)

[Accessed 17 02 2017].


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