Inductive Reasoning

« Back to Glossary Index

Inductive reasoning makes broad generalizations from specific observations (bottom-up). The investigator collects observations, finds patterns in the data, makes tentative hypotheses and finally presents a theory or rationale that explains the patterns. Theories generated through inductive reasoning are not reliable. Inductive reasoning can, however, be used for “exploratory” data analysis and potentially valuable theories can be tested using confirmatory data analysis.