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Sociology Definition of the Week: Deductive Reasoning

By December 14, 2011

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Deductive reasoning happens when a researcher works from the more general information to the more specific. Sometimes this is called the "top-down" approach because the researcher starts at the top with a very broad spectrum of information and they work their way down to a specific conclusion. For instance, a researcher might begin with a theory about his or her topic of interest. From there, he or she would narrow that down into more specific hypotheses that can be tested. The hypotheses are then narrowed down even further when observations are collected to test the hypotheses. This ultimately leads the researcher to be able to test the hypotheses with specific data, leading to a confirmation (or not) of the original theory and arriving at a conclusion. See an example of deductive reasoning or read about how to construct a deductive theory.

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