Deductive vs. Inductive : LUSENET : SCILS-Comm300 : One Thread

Mr Kim, In Comm Theory I recall learning that the difference between deductive and inductive was that with deductive reasoning you begin with evidence and form a hypothesis. With inductive reasoning you form a hypothesis and then gather evidence to support it.

Is this correct? I'm having difficulty understanding the definitions shared during class lecture regarding these terms. Please clarify.

Thanks, Stacey

-- Stacey Breeden (, February 16, 2000


Hi, Stacey-

Deductive approach begins with a general ideas (such as theory, laws, principles) and based on them, you form a specific hypotheses which can be tested in order to support the general ideas. If the hypothesis is supported, you may want to say that the intial (general) idea was indeed correct.

On the other hand, inductive approach begins with specific things -- observations of individual cases, for example. Based on the accumulation of such observation, you may want to build a general idea on that observation. Inductive approach is often compared to what detectives are doing. They gather small evidence and information around the criminal place (specific things) and pin down a murderer (theory).

The social research (which we learn in the class) often requires the deductive approach rather than inductive approach. One example might be:

When computer meditated communication facilities (email for example) were introduced, the researchers initially believed that such media would not carry people's subtle, emotional expressions. This line of thoughts led the researchers to a communication theory -- media richness. The theory says that each medium we, human use, has a certain capacity of conveying information (including factual and emotional one). in a face-to-face communication situation, the communicators may be able to exchange more subtle (not only the fatual information itself) information.

Based on the theory of media richness, the researchers made hypotheses that computer-mediated-communication media are more suitable for exchanging factual information rather than social or emotional information. They gathered empirical data by doing many experiments, doing surveys and field studies to see if the hypothesis holds the truth.

This sort of "general to specific" approach can be identified as "deductive approach."

Hope it helps.

-- hyo kim (, February 17, 2000.

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