The scientific method is largely based on inductive reasoning. You begin by studying a small sample population and then extrapolate your findings to apply to a larger group or population as a whole.

Inductive reasoning is the process of drawing conclusions from specific observations.

It can be contrasted with deductive reasoning, which starts with general principles and draws specific conclusions.

Also known as induction, inductive reasoning is a key component in scientific discovery and hypothesis formation.


inductive reasoning

What Is inductive reasoning?

Inductive reasoning is the process of using a sample to draw conclusions about a larger group or population.

Inductive reasoning is based on observation and information processing, rather than logic and theory.

In other words, you use facts that you know for sure to come up with an idea about something else that you can’t be certain about.

This form of reasoning is often used in science to come up with theories based on known facts.



For example, the fact that the sun rises each morning allows scientists to conclude that the Earth rotates on its axis.

Scientists use inductive reasoning all the time in experiments and observations, allowing them to make new discoveries.

While inductive reasoning is useful in science and in everyday life, it can also lead people astray if they don’t approach it carefully and if they’re not aware of its limitations.

Let’s take a closer look at inductive reasoning to see how it operates and what its limitations are.

What Is Inductive Reasoning?

Inductive reasoning is commonly used to develop theories or make predictions about the world.

For example, when a scientist experiments and observes certain phenomena repeatedly, she can use inductive reasoning to infer that her observations are indicative of some general, underlying principle that governs the behavior of all similar phenomena.

For instance, a scientist who has been studying the properties of water. In her lab, she finds that water expands when it freezes.

She also finds that water expands when it boils and contracts when it freezes.

This causes her to hypothesize that all liquids behave this way — that expanding upon freezing is a universal property of liquids.


To test this hypothesis, she takes a look at other substances around her.

Sure enough, all liquids seem to expand upon freezing — though not all liquids behave identically under pressure or in varying temperatures — so she concludes that it is likely true for all liquids and not just water.

Her inductive reasoning was successful in forming a theory.

Inductive Reasoning Examples

Inductive reasoning is one of the most important skills for critical thinking and problem solving.

It is a type of logical reasoning in which conclusions are drawn from observations or premises. Inductive reasoning can be useful when used correctly and avoided when used incorrectly. It is one of two main types of reasoning, the other being deductive reasoning.

TIP: When you’re trying to solve a problem, look at it through inductive reasoning.

Example 1: If a person has been feeling under the weather for days and then discovers they have a fever, they’ll likely assume that the fever is the cause of their current condition.

Example 2: A highway department finds many potholes on a particular stretch of highway. They conclude that potholes are causing damage to cars driving on the road.

Example 3: The cats are making strange noises in my house at night. I know what cats sound like when they make strange noises at night, so I assume that an animal must be making these noises.

Inductive reasoning allows you to reach a conclusion if there is enough evidence to support it. Inductive reasoning is a process used to generate new ideas and theories based on observation.

It’s rhe opposite of deductive reasoning, which allows you to make logical conclusions from established theory.

For example, if someone asks you why grass is green, you might say it’s because it reflects the color of the sun. This explanation suggests that grass’s color is simply a reflection of the sun’s color, which is in turn a reflection of white light.

When using inductive reasoning, though, it’s important not to assume that one piece of evidence proves your conclusion. You need enough examples to be sure that your conclusion is true in most cases.

For example, saying “grass is green” isn’t a good answer because it could be brown or purple today. To support your claim, you would have to show multiple photos or examples of grass being green.

Inductive reasoning can help you make decisions outside of science-related fields as well. If you see that many people prefer a certain product over others, this type of reasoning can help you conclude that other people will like the product as well.

Inductive Reasoning Arguments

If you are attempting to persuade someone of your point of view, then you should use inductive reasoning arguments. This can be a hard concept to grasp at first, but by the end of this article you will have a full understanding of inductive reasoning.


TIP: This is an argument that uses specific examples to support a claim.

Example: The football team has been practicing really hard for months, so they will win the football game.

These are called Inductive Reasoning Arguments because they follow the pattern:

A specific event takes place or some new evidence is produced that is relevant to the matter at hand.

Therefore we can conclude that some general conclusion is true about the matter at hand.

When using inductive reasoning arguments it is important to remember that:

It must always be possible for the conclusion to be false even when the premises are true (this is why they are called Inductive Reasoning Arguments.)

Even if the premises are true, it doesn’t mean that conclusion is definitely true, only probably true (keep this in mind when arguing with people.)

Inductive reasoning is a process in which you make a generalization based on particular instances.

For example, a doctor who has observed many patients coming into the hospital with stomach pain might infer that this is a symptom of a larger problem. The doctor can’t be sure that every patient with stomach pain has an ulcer, but by observing many patients with stomach pain, she can make an inductive reasoning argument.

Inductive Logic And Inductive Probabilities

Inductive logic is reasoning that’s based on observations. It is often used by biologists to explain their findings.

For example, a biologist collecting data about the habitat of a particular bird species may have noticed that all of the birds in one area have red feathers and may make an inductive statement, “All birds in this area are red.” This is an example of inductive logic because it is based on observation rather than hard facts.

To understand inductive probability, you first need to know about deductive probability. Deductive probability uses hard facts to make an inference about something else.

For example, if you flip a coin 10 times and it comes up heads every time, then you can use deductive reasoning to conclude that the next flip has a 100% chance of being heads.

The more times you flip the coin and get a specific result, the more certain you can be that your prediction will come true next time too.

Inductive probability uses observations to make a conclusion about something else using probability theory. For example, if you observe that 3 out of every 5 people who ride roller coasters get sick afterwards, then your inductive probability tells you that there is a 60% chance of any individual getting sick after riding a roller coaster.

The Application Of Inductive Probabilities To The Evaluation Of Scientific Hypotheses

In the field of probability, an inductive probability is a value between 0 and 1 assigned to a hypothesis based on that hypothesis’ prior probability, likelihood of occurrence, or both. This article will discuss how inductive probabilities can be used in the evaluation of scientific hypotheses.

Tests involving induction are used to determine whether a hypothesis should be accepted or rejected based on specific data. The more tests the hypothesis survives, the higher its credibility becomes.

In essence, the more a particular hypothesis passes tests with high inductive probabilities, the greater the probability that it is true.

The application of inductive probabilities to hypothesis evaluation begins with determining the prior probability of a hypothesis. This is based on how likely it is that such a hypothesis would be conceived in the first place and then tested.

For example, some hypotheses may have occurred by pure chance and others might have been inspired by years of research and investigation.

If we assign an initial prior probability of 0.1 for each hypothesis, there are two possibilities: that the theory has an inductive probability higher than 0.1 or lower than 0.1 (either way). If it has an inductive probability higher than 0.1, then we can test it and give it an inductive probability between 0 and 1.

Examples Of Inductive Reasoning In Writing

Inductive reasoning is a term used to explain the process of forming an opinion or reaching a conclusion based on specific pieces of evidence. This differs from deductive reasoning, in that deductive reasoning requires specific pieces of evidence to arrive at a conclusion.

The most common example of inductive reasoning is the Sherlock Holmes method. If a person were to find a hat, pipe and deerstalker cap, they might deduce the conclusion that the owner of those items was a detective named Sherlock Holmes.

Inductive reasoning allows us to extrapolate from bits of evidence to arrive at a general conclusion. We make many assumptions in our day-to-day lives that are based on inductive reasoning.

For instance, if someone were to leave their umbrella outside and it began raining, you may assume that they do not want the umbrella anymore (even though you have no proof).

Inductive reasoning is often used in legal settings when determining guilt or innocence of a defendant. The prosecution presents evidence such as blood samples and fingerprints taken from an alleged crime scene to try and prove that the defendant was there at the time the crime was committed using inductive logic.

This type of reasoning can also be used by writers in order to form conclusions about their characters or situations in their story.

Types Of Inductive Reasoning In Writing

Inductive reasoning is a complex process and every writer uses it in one form or another. You already have been applying inductive reasoning to your writing even before you knew the term.

The following are some different types of inductive reasoning that writers use:

Deductive reasoning is a logical conclusion based on a set of premises or assumptions. This type of reasoning describes how either a conclusion is reached using a general principle or premises, or how various possibilities are eliminated by determining which one is the most likely.

Deductive reasoning can be illustrated by using a syllogism as follows:

Premise 1: All humans are mortal

Premise 2: Socrates is human Conclusion: Socrates is mortal

Analogical reasoning involves relating similarities between two things to draw a conclusion about one or both of them. It relies on evidence from an example and induction to draw conclusions.

A writer can use this type of inductive reasoning when they conclude that something similar to another thing will result in the same outcome as the other thing. An example would be using a previous experience to determine what will occur in the future. 

When To Use Inductive Reasoning In Your Writing

Inductive reasoning is a method of reasoning that can be used to support claims. It is used when there are no sufficient facts to use deductive reasoning, but there is enough information to determine what might be true in the future.

Inductive reasoning comes from observations and insights. For example, an author may notice that a character in their story has been acting the same way for many chapters.

They draw conclusions from these observations and insights to create the plot moving forward.

Here’s What You Need To Know:

Induction is often used in informal essays, but it can also be used in academic writing when a writer wants to make a suggestion or propose a hypothesis. Inductive reasoning should only be used if you have sufficient evidence to support your claims.

How To Write Inductively:

Use generalizations, such as “some people” or “many,” instead of specific examples. These more general terms will allow you to move forward without making concrete, uneducated claims.

Make sure that all your ideas follow logically from each other. If they don’t, then your paper will not make sense, even if all the individual pieces are correct.

Use “if-then” statements instead of just stating facts.

Induction By Confirmation

What if the confirmation bias is real? What if we humans, with all of our intelligence and evolved minds, are in fact susceptible to the same cognitive processes as a dog or a rat?

A paper published in Psychological Review by University of Michigan psychologist David Pizarro suggests that it’s true. He calls it induction by confirmation. In an article for the New York Times, Pizarro describes how he and his colleagues conducted a series of experiments to see how people reacted to evidence supporting or not supporting their beliefs.

In one experiment, they showed subjects a video of a basketball game in which a player missed several shots in a row. They then asked the subjects whether the player was hot or cold from the field.

Half of them were told that the player was cold, and half were told that he was hot. The subjects who knew that the player was cold yet thought he was hot were judged as more biased than those who knew that he was actually cold.

In another experiment, researchers asked subjects about their attitudes toward homosexuality and then exposed them to fake scientific evidence for or against gay marriage. The more hostile the subject’s initial feelings toward homosexuality were, the more likely they were to accept phony proof that supported their views.

The Benefits Of Inductive Reasoning

There are many benefits to inductive reasoning, which is the opposite of deductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning is a bit more complicated than deductive reasoning, but it can be used to deduce conclusions in a more efficient manner. Inductive reasoning involves the process of gathering information and then generalizing about the information that was gathered.

This is done by letting the brain look for clues or patterns in order to determine how things relate to each other. This can be done on a small scale as well as on a much larger scale.

Tests of inductive reasoning are often given to children so that they can determine whether or not they are capable of learning new things at an early age. If a child is able to look at smaller pieces of the puzzle and then put those pieces together in order to figure out what they all mean, they are said to have high levels of inductive reasoning skills.

These skills are very important because they allow us to learn new things without having all of the facts right away. For example, scientists do not know everything about our solar system, but they have learned enough about it to know that all planets orbit around the sun in elliptical orbits.

The Limits Of Inductive Reasoning

You might have heard about the limits of inductive reasoning if you’ve taken a philosophy class. It’s the idea that you can’t make a definitive statement from just a few data points, like “all men are mortal” from the examples of Socrates and Plato.

To understand why inductive reasoning has limits, imagine a jar containing only black marbles and one white marble. You reach in and pull out two marbles. The first is black, so what does the second one mean? Is it more likely to be black or white?

This is known as the “base rate fallacy,” which states that you’d assume any given marble is more likely to be black than white based on the ratio of black to white marbles in the jar. But statistics show that it’s more likely to be white, because there are more white marbles in the jar than black ones.

This might sound obvious, but it’s easy to make this mistake all the time when making decisions in life. People who live near mountains might assume they’re safer drivers because they have more experience with driving on them (the “law of small numbers”).

Using Inductive Reasoning In Your Screenplay

When you’re writing a screenplay, it can be difficult to think about what your characters are feeling. If you’re like me and prefer to think in terms of plot, exposition and dialogue, it’s easy to get caught up in the mechanics of the story.

Trying to write from the inside out is hard. And that’s where inductive reasoning comes in.

Inductive reasoning is method of using circumstantial evidence to make a conclusion. This is how we come to know things about the world around us.

For example:

If a friend invites you over for dinner, and when you get there she asks you if you want anything to drink, your assumption is that she’s already got drinks for herself. You don’t know this for sure, but it seems logical when presented with those two facts.

In screenwriting terms:

The fact that John asks Jane what she wants to eat means he already knows what he wants himself (because they’re on a date).

This is how we come up with our characters’ emotions and motivations during the course of writing a screenplay. We use inductive reasoning based on the facts presented in the screenplay itself.