What Is Inductive Reasoning? - Examples & Definition

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  • 0:01 Categories of Reasoning
  • 0:45 Definition of…
  • 1:55 Examples of Inductive…
  • 3:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Chris Clause
In this lesson, you will learn to define inductive reasoning. Following the lesson, you will have the opportunity to test your knowledge with a short quiz.

Categories of Reasoning

The ability to think, develop ideas, and form mental concepts is a tremendously important part of the human experience. What we do with those thoughts, ideas, and concepts is even more important. Reasoning is the term that cognitive psychologists use to refer to the process of assigning meaning to our thoughts. This has a tremendous impact on how we view various aspects of the world around us and influences how we make decisions.

In the world of cognitive psychology, there are two main categories of reasoning: inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning. Factors, such as how quickly a decision must be reached and the type of information that is available, influence which type of reasoning we decide to use.

Definition of Inductive Reasoning

Inductive reasoning is the process of making generalized decisions after observing, or witnessing, repeated specific instances of something. Conversely, deductive reasoning is the process of taking the information gathered from general observations and making specific decisions based on that information.

Both types of reasoning will allow you to form opinions and draw conclusions about environmental occurrences, but they will oftentimes yield different results. For instance, with inductive reasoning, you are essentially generalizing that all future instances of something will comply with the observations that you have seen so far. Naturally, it is not possible to witness every instance of a particular environmental occurrence, so there are undoubtedly going to be instances wherein your reasoning is not accurate.

Again, a key driving force in determining whether inductive or deductive reasoning is employed is the availability of information. Inductive reasoning, while not 100% accurate 100% of the time, is still a relatively quick way to make decisions. Sometimes, saving time is as important as being accurate. Let's take a look at a couple of examples to illustrate inductive reasoning in action.

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