Definition and Examples of Deductive Reasoning

Understand its value in the workplace

Illustration of a man using deductive reasoning to solve a problem

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Deductive reasoning represents an important form of logical reasoning that is widely applied in many different industries and valued by employers. This kind of reasoning sometimes is referred to as top-down thinking or moving from the general to the specific. By highlighting your deductive reasoning throughout your job search, you can show employers you know how to use logic to benefit the organization.

What Is Deductive Reasoning?

Deductive reasoning relies on a general statement or hypothesis—sometimes called a premise or standard—held to be true. The premise is used to reach a specific, logical conclusion.

A common example is the if/then statement. If A = B and B = C, then deductive reasoning tells us that A = C.

Deductive reasoning differs from inductive reasoning, sometimes know as bottom-up thinking. In contrast, inductive thinking involves making broad generalizations based on specific observations.

Workplace Applications

Employees who accept established premises and formulate approaches to their work based on those premises are using their deductive reasoning skills. Overall, they are guided by the philosophy, policies, and procedures embraced by their employers. They hold any standards of the department or organization to be true.

In their day-to-day activity, they are guided by their knowledge of the job, company, industry, and relevant trends as they make decisions and solve problems.

Examples of Use

There are many ways deductive reasoning can be applied, but these are a few examples:

  1. A consumer products company accepts the premise that professional women are overloaded with family and work responsibilities and strapped for time. From this, they deduce they can be successful marketing hair coloring product that can be applied in less time than their competition's hair coloring product.
  2. Development executives at a college believe professionals working in the financial sector make the best donors. So, they deduce that they should target alumni working in finance when it comes time to plan their next fundraising strategy. 
  3. A supermarket manager believes candy products are an impulse buy. She deduces that she can sell more by placing candy displays close to store entry paths. 
  4. A food products company identifies a trend that shows consumers to favor organic products. Its marketing department deduces it can boost sales by increasing the size of the lettering for the word "organic" when redesigning their packaging. 

How to Highlight Your Deductive Reasoning

When applying for jobs, it's a good idea to highlight your deductive reasoning skills. This is particularly important if you are applying for a managerial position in which you will have to make important decisions that will affect the company.

While you don’t need to include the key phrase “deductive reasoning” on your job materials unless that is a specific requirement of the job. Instead, you might mention in your cover letter or resume a specific time that you used deductive reasoning at work to benefit the company. Specific examples will clearly show employers how you use your logic to bring value to the company you work for.

STAR Interview Responses

If you are asked questions about logic or deductive reasoning in your interview, you can use the STAR interview response technique. STAR stands for:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

When answering a question with this technique, start by explaining the situation: Where were you working? What project were you working on? Then, the task: What was the problem you had to solve? What standard or premise did you hold to be true? Then, the action you took: What conclusion did you come to based on the standard? What decision did you make? Finally, the result: How did your action result in an improvement at the company?