How to improve your Logical Reasoning Skills

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Why Is Logical Thinking Important?

How to think logically is an important skill within the workplace because it can impact everything that you do.

From your decision-making and situational judgments to your ability to prioritize your workload with effective to-do lists.

Everything that you do within the workplace should be carefully considered. Regardless of your expertise, your sector or your level of seniority, you will always have various problems to solve.

It could be something as simple as how to resolve a customer dispute, or it could be how to manage your budget or how to decide on what skills are needed within your team.

It is how you solve these problems that can help you to make a tangible difference to your employer and your long-term career prospects.

Employers need staff with good logical thinking skills because it means that they can self-assess what they need to do and decipher the best way to get the job done.

Representing Information

<p><b>CONTENT</b>: This week we will teach you how to use the tools that you’ve learned about in the preceding modules in order to represent information. Information can be communicated in very different ways – by means of different languages or signaling systems – but no matter how that information is communicated, it can be important to use that information in reasoning. In this week, you will learn how to reason from information that is communicated directly by means of truth-tables or Venn Diagrams.</p><p><b>LEARNING OUTCOMES</b>: By the end of this week's material you will be able to: <ul><li>understand the information conveyed by a Venn Diagram</li><li>use Venn Diagram to determine whether a deductive argument is valid</li></p>

1 hour to complete

2 videos (Total 27 min)

2 videos Reasoning from Venn Diagrams or Truth Tables Alone14m Different Ways of Representing Information11m 1 practice exercise Reasoning from Venn Diagrams or Truth Tables Alone30m

Video

Reviews

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TOP REVIEWS FROM THINK AGAIN II: HOW TO REASON DEDUCTIVELYby MW Aug 22, 2019 Compared to Think Again I, this II is more abstract and difficult. it takes more time to grasp the knowledge. and there are still things that I am confused about, despite having passed the final quiz.by GP Jul 13, 2020 The quizzes were a bit difficult because some of the items weren't discussed well in the lectures. It would be better if there were more comprehensive explanations to the answers in the quizzesby RR Jun 7, 2020 While still a very useful course, the material was less interesting to me personally than the first module. However it was still very rewarding and I enjoyed the instructor's lectures!by TV May 12, 2021 I want to thank the amazing professor Dr. Ram Neta, who taught me this amazing skills and helped me to better understand basic logic! Thank you very much!View all reviews

How Deductive Reasoning Works

With deductive reasoning, premises are used to reach a conclusion. For example, a marketing manager might realize that their department is going over budget on advertising. After reviewing the numbers, they observe that while the company's Facebook advertisements get a lot of clicks, they have a higher number of contacts through their email list.

The manager decides to reduce Facebook advertising to stay under budget and focus on getting consumers to sign up for their email list. Over the next quarter, the department stays under budget and sales are steady.

The manager followed the deductive reasoning process. Here's how deductive reasoning in the workplace typically works:

  1. Clarify the issue, making sure to understand what's at stake.
  2. Look at data relating to the issue, asking questions.
  3. Formulate a hypothesis, which is a possible reason for the issue.
  4. Test the hypothesis by implementing a solution that resolves the reason for the issue.
  5. Evaluate your results, repeating the steps until the desired results are achieved.

Types of deductive reasoning

Three types of deductive reasoning are seen most often in professional settings. These types of include:

  1. Syllogism: This type of thinking is when you conclude from two assumed premises that both share a common term with the outcome. The following is an example of a syllogism: all cats are mammals, and all mammals have four legs. Therefore, all cats have four legs. While this statement isn’t necessarily true, it shows how two assumed premises can lead to a common conclusion.
  2. Modus ponens: Modus ponens, also referred to as affirming the antecedent, is a type of reasoning in which the following formula is used: If P is true, and P implies Q, then Q will be true. For example, if Jane goes to work on Tuesdays, and today is Tuesday, then Jane is going to work today.
  3. Modus tollens: Modus tollens is the opposite of modus ponens because it infers that if P implies Q, and Q is not true, then P is not true. For example, if Jane goes to work on Tuesdays, and Jane doesn’t go to work today, then today is not Tuesday.

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR DEDUCTIVE REASONING SKILLS

Deductive reasoning is a great skill that can prove useful both in your personal life and your professional life. Fortunately, it is not a skill that is restricted to the descendants of Sherlock Holmes.

Anyone can train himself or herself to become good at deductive reasoning.

Most applications of deductive reasoning in your daily life will require you to find new information and combine it with already existing knowledge in order to come up with a conclusion that was not previously obvious to you.

This means that you need to be very perceptive to new information and quite knowledgeable, since you need to relate the new information to some prior knowledge in order to come to a new conclusion.

Below are some tips on how you can improve your deductive reasoning skills:

  • Learn to be a good observer: Observation is a very important skill if you want to become good at deductive reasoning, therefore you should make it a habit. Observation helps you gather new information. If you observe anything new, try to analyze and understand it. Always be keen and take time to look at things a second time. For instance, if you work in a customer facing position, try to keenly observe the behavior of customers. Are there any patterns? Are there more customers at certain times compared to others? Do customers order certain goods and services at certain times and not others? Do customers like being served by a certain attendant? Once you make an observation, try to understand the reason behind it. This will help you uncover patterns that were not previously obvious.
  • Be curious: Curiosity is one of the best ways of learning new information. If you observe anything you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Curiosity will not only help you to gain new information, it will also motivate you to try and deduce things from the information you already have.
  • Increase your knowledge: The more knowledgeable you are, the more likely you are to make connections between different pieces of information and make useful conclusions from the information. Therefore, you should constantly seek to increase you knowledge. Read books. Watch informational videos and documentaries. Listen to podcasts. Keep yourself abreast of trends within your industry. Try to gain as much knowledge as you can, from diverse sources and about different topics.
  • Break down problems into small pieces: Often times, we are unable to find solutions to puzzling problems because we tend to overcomplicate issues instead of going for the simple and obvious answers. Part of deductive reasoning involves breaking down knowledge into small pieces (premises) and then trying to see if any inference can be made from these pieces.
  • Solve puzzles: Puzzles can also help you improve your deductive reasoning capabilities. Solving puzzles stimulates your brain, triggers changes in your neural pathways and synapses and increases your brain’s neuroplasticity, which in turn improves your ability to become aware of new patterns and to understand relationship between different pieces of information. This is something critical in deductive reasoning. Next time you are commuting to work, solving that crossword puzzle might not only keep you occupied, it might also be helping you to improve your deductive reasoning capabilities.

Valid Rule of Inference 2: Modus Tollens

Is this argument valid?

If the light goes on, then the dog barks.

The dog doesn’t bark.

————————- Therefore, the light doesn’t go on.

The answer is yes.  If the dog always barks when the light goes on, and the dog doesn’t bark, the light didn’t go on! This is necessarily true. The conclusion is guaranteed by the premises – by a rule of inference called ‘Modus Tollens’

If P then Q

Not Q

————-

Therefore Not P

Here’s another example of this form of valid deductive argument: ‘If being a criminal is genetically determined, then there are genetic markers common to all criminals. There are not genetic markers common to all criminals. Therefore, it’s not true that being a criminal is genetically determined.’

The three types of logical reasoning

Logical reasoning can be divided into deductive-, inductive- and abductive reasoning. While inductive reasoning starts with a specific instance and moves into a generalized conclusion, deductive reasoning goes from a generalized principle that is known to be true to a specific conclusion that is true. And abductive reasoning is making a probable conclusion from what you know.  

We’ll explain each type of logical reasoning

We’ll explain each type of logical reasoning further:

Inductive reasoning

With inductive reasoning, a number of specific observations lead to a general rule. With this method, the premises are viewed as supplying some evidence for the truth of a conclusion. With inductive reasoning, there is an element of probability. In other words, forming a generalization based on what is known or observed.   While this sounds like the theory you will use during a debate or discussion, this is something you do every day in much simpler situations as well. We’ll explain this type of logical reasoning with an example: There are 28 balls within a basket, which are either red or white. To estimate the amount of red and white balls, you take a sample of four balls. The sample you took, exists out of three red and one white ball. Using good inductive generalization would be that there are 21 red and 7 white balls in the basket. As already explained, the conclusion drawn from his type of reasoning isn’t certain but is probable based on the evidence given (the sample of balls you took). Questions which require to perform inductive reasoning are a part of IQ-tests. An example of a little more complex question like just explained with the balls is the one of the image below. To come to a conclusion to solve this problem, both inductive reasoning and pattern recognition skills are required. Looking at the sequence of tiles with different patterns of dots, which tile should be on the place of the question mark? A, B, C, D, E or F?  

Deductive reasoning

With deductive reasoning, factual statements are used to come to a logical conclusion. If all the premises (factual statements) are true, the terms are clear and all the rules of deductive logic are followed to come to a conclusion, then the conclusion will also be true. In this case, the conclusion isn’t probable, but certain. Deductive reasoning is also known as “top-down” logic, because it (in most cases) starts with a general statement and will end with a specific conclusion.

We’ll explain deductive reasoning with an example, with 2 given premises:

  • It’s dangerous to drive while it’s freezing (premise 1)

  • It is currently freezing outside (premise 2)

So, we now know that it is dangerous to drive when it is freezing, and it is currently freezing outside. Using deductive reasoning, these two premises can help us form necessarily true conclusion, which is:

  • It is currently dangerous to drive outside (conclusion)

Situations in which you use deductive reasoning can come in many forms, such as mathematics. Whether you are designing your own garden or managing your time, you use deductive reasoning while doing math daily. An example is solving the following math problem:

  • All corners of a rectangle are always 180° (premise 1)

  • The following rectangle has one right angle, which is always 90° (premise 2)

The second angle is 60° (premise 3)  

How much degrees is the third angle (X)?   
  To

How much degrees is the third angle (X)? To answer this question, you can use the three premises to come to the conclusion how much degrees the third hook is. The conclusion should be 180° (premise 1) -90° (premise 2) – 60° (premise 3) = 30° (conclusion)

Abductive reasoning

With abductive reasoning, the major premise is evident but the minor premise(s) is probable. Therefore, defining a conclusion would also make this conclusion probable. You start with an observation, followed by finding the most likely explanation for the observations. In other words, it is a type of logical reasoning you use when you form a conclusion with the (little) information that is known. An example of using abductive reasoning to come to a conclusion is a decision made by a jury. In this case, a group of people have to come to a solution based on the available evidence and witness testimonies. Based on this possibly incomplete information, they form a conclusion. A more common example is when you wake up in the morning, and you head downstairs. In the kitchen, you find a plate on the table, a half-eaten sandwich and half a glass of milk. From the premises that are available, you will come up with the most likely explanation for this. Which could be that your partner woke up before you and left in a hurry, without finishing his or her breakfast.  

Benefits of Deductive Reasoning

Benefits of Deductive Reasoning

Deductive reasoning allows you to use logic to justify work-related decisions. Even when the decision doesn't work out, you can explain why you decided to do what you did. Being able to use deductive reasoning is valuable to employers. Employers value decisive, proactive employees.

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

You don’t need to include the phrase “deductive reasoning” on your job materials unless it’s a specific requirement of the job. Instead, you might mention in your cover letter or resume an example of when you used deductive reasoning to benefit your organization. Specific examples will clearly show employers how you use your logic to bring value to the company you work for.

Key Takeaways Deductive reasoning starts with a general idea and reaches a specific conclusion. It's a form of logical thinking that's valued by employers. You may use deductive reasoning without realizing it to make decisions about your work. It's an important skill to highlight by providing examples in your cover letter, resume, or during your interview. 

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