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Difference Between Inductive and Deductive

Inductive vs Deductive

While conducting a research, there are broadly two methods of reasoning that are adopted. These are known as inductive and deductive reasoning approaches. The two approaches are diametrically opposite to each other and the selection of the reasoning approach depends upon the design of the research as well as requirements of the researcher. This article will briefly look at the two reasoning approaches and try to differentiate between them.

Deductive reasoning

This is an approach that works from general premises to a more specific conclusion. This is also referred to as a top down approach or the waterfall approach of reasoning. The premises that are taken are true and the conclusion follows logically from these premises. Deductive means trying to deduce (infer) conclusions from a theory that is already there.

Inductive reasoning

It is a bottom up approach that is opposite of deductive reasoning. Here the beginning is made with specific observations and research goes in the direction of broader generalizations or theories. There is a degree of uncertainty as we move up as conclusions are based upon premises. Inductive reasoning starts with specific observations where the researcher tries to detect patterns and regularities, makes hypothesis, explores them, and finally comes up with generalizations. These conclusions are referred to as theories.

In brief:

Inductive vs Deductive

• From the above description of the two reasoning methods, it is tempting to jump to conclusions that one or the other method is better. However, both approaches are useful as they are meant to be applied in different sets of circumstances.

• While deductive reasoning is narrow in nature as it involves testing hypothesis that are already present, inductive reasoning is open ended and exploratory in nature.

• While deductive approach is better suited for situations where scientific hypothesis are verified, for social science (humanities) studies, it is the inductive reasoning approach that is better suited. However, in practice, both the approaches are made use of in a particular research and used when and where researcher requires them.


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