What is inductive reasoning vs. deductive reasoning?
In marketing and advertising, some of the best minds use inductive reasoning to create incredible campaigns. Looking at successful campaigns, they can analyze what made them work so well and apply those principles to new projects. This reasoning has led to some of the most creative and effective advertising ever crafted.
While deductive reasoning relies on facts and figures, the inductive reasoning definition uses patterns and trends to generate creative solutions. That makes it an essential tool for anyone in the advertising industry. By understanding how inductive works, you can learn to come up with better ideas for your next campaign.
What are Deductive and Inductive Reasoning?
You, me, and your customer claim we use deductive reasoning, but it simply isn’t true. The basis of the deductive reasoning scientific method requires us to work diligently to disprove what we believe.
Does anyone do that? Not usually.
Instead of using deductive reasoning, we use inductive. We seek out information that confirms our values, beliefs, instincts, and preferences have been correct.
Our confirmation bias kicks in, assuring us that contradictory information is not correct when confronted with it. We dismiss it with a mental finger-flick.
For example, let’s flick away this contradictory information.
I am an ad writer: confirmation bias, inductive reasoning, and magical thinking sparkle at my fingertips. My job is to speak to what is already within you. You have more than enough information. Let me agree with what you already believe.
Google and Facebook’s algorithms will show us content that only reaffirms our existing opinions instead of expanding our horizons. We deem disagreeable people to be imbeciles, and anyone who disagrees is either uninformed or misinformed.
“Hoare writes with the license of the nonexpert; you can feel the delight he takes in being unbound by anything but his enthusiasms.” — John Williams
In this quote, John Williams describes Philip Hoare. Yet Williams could have been describing me. I am a nonexpert; I can come to my own conclusions.
You are a nonexpert, too. So is your customer.
The people we’re trying to influence are, by and large, nonexperts. They haven’t been trained in the nuances of our product or service. They don’t have the years of experience that gives them a deep understanding of the things we take for granted.
We have to speak the customers’ language, not ours. We have to make it easy for them to understand what we’re offering and why it’s valuable. That is why, when we’re trying to sell them something, we must remember that they don’t know what we know.
Inductive vs. Deductive Reasoning
The vast majority of people reason inductively. They arrive at their conclusions using their experiences, world views, and observations to generalize.
Deductive reasoning is different. When you use deductive reasoning, you start with a generalization. You then use that generalization to come to a particular conclusion.
The difference between inductive and deductive reasoning is pretty simple when you think about it in those terms. With deductive reasoning, you go from broad to specific. In other words, with inductive, you go from the particular to general.
Here are examples of inductive and deductive reasoning:
Inductive Thinking: All of the dogs I have seen are friendly. Therefore, all dogs must be friendly.
Deductive Reasoning: All dogs are animals. Animals are breathing creatures. Thus, all dogs are breathing creatures.
Inductive vs. Deductive Reasoning: Which is better?
Inductive reasoning is the way to go if you want to come to a conclusion based on perceived evidence. Deductive reasoning can only conclude if your premises are true.
As you can see, both types of reasoning start with a premise (or multiple premises). But deductive reasoning arrives at its conclusion using logic, while inductive does not. It relies on observation and experience instead.
Most people use both types of reasoning but tend to favor one over the other. You can see this in the way that people argue.
Some people will start with a specific example and then try to generalize from that example. Other people will begin with a generalization and then try to apply it to a particular situation.
The difference between these two reasoning styles is critical, but it’s also crucial to remember that they aren’t mutually exclusive. Deductive reasoning is used to arrive at a specific conclusion, and inductive is used to generalize.
So, what does all of this have to do with advertising?
Well, the best advertisers use both types of reasoning. They don’t just rely on one or the other. They use deductive reasoning to develop a specific message they want to communicate. They use inductive reasoning to create a general strategy that will resonate with their target audience.
The best ads are those that can strike a balance between these deductive vs. inductive reasoning. They can take a specific message and make it resonate with a broad audience. They can do this by using the fingertips of an ad genius.
Ad geniuses are those who can think distictively. They devise creative solutions to problems others have never even considered. They do this by using inductive reasoning.
Ad geniuses use inductive reasoning to come up with their best ads.
They start with a specific message that they want to communicate. Then they use inductive reasoning to figure out how to make that message resonate with a broad audience.
The best ads are the ones that make us think, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Usually, the answer is that the person who came up with the ad was using inductive reasoning.
So, next time you’re stuck on how to communicate a message, try using inductive reasoning. It might help you devise a solution that others have never even considered.
Deductive Logical Arguments Examples
Here are a couple of deductive reasoning examples:
- “All spiders have eight legs. A tarantula is a spider. Therefore, tarantulas have eight legs.” For your deductive reasoning to be logical, your premise must be right. You assume that the statements “All spiders have eight legs” and “a tarantula is a spider” are true. Therefore, your reasoning is objective and true. In deductive reasoning, if something is true in a general class of things, it is also true for all class members.
- “All dogs like to chase cats. My dog is a dog. Therefore, my dog likes to chase cats.” That is another sound argument using deductive logic. The hypothesis is true (all dogs like chasing cats), and the given information is true (my dog is a dog). Therefore, it stands to reason that the conclusion is also true (my dog likes to chase cats).
Inductive Logical Arguments Examples
Here are a couple of inductive reasoning examples:
- You have a coin bag. You pull three coins from it, each one being a penny. Your inductive logic proposes that all of the coins in the bag are pennies. Initially, you observe each coin taken from the bag was a penny. Your observation is right. However, your inductive reasoning does not mean what you’ve decided will be true.
- Penguins are birds. Penguins can’t fly. Therefore, all birds can’t fly. If you believe this, your reasoning is not logical in this case.
The Sparkle at the Fingertips of Every Evil Genius
At the fingertips of every evil genius sparkles confirmation bias, inductive reasoning, and magical thinking. Please do not think of me as an evil genius, for I am the genius that agrees with you.
Explaining magical thinking can get kind of messy. Kurt Andersen does his best to below:
“Americans have always been magical thinkers and passionate believers in the untrue.”
— Kurt Andersen
Andersen explains America’s origins, dating back to when the Puritans in New England wanted to create a Christian utopia. They waited for what they believed was the imminent second coming of Christ and the End of Days.
People were convinced in the south that this place they had never been, Virginia, was full of gold. They believed they could pluck it from the dirt there. For 20 years, the Puritans stayed there, looking and hoping for gold before finally facing the facts. They finally accepted they weren’t going to get rich overnight.
After that, Andersen says, there were centuries of “buyer beware” charlatanism and medical quackery. There was also an increase in exotic, extravagant, and implausible cults and religions.
Blend and amp up all those things together to get the 1960s. That was a time when people were entitled to their own truth and reality.
The next generation welcomed the internet. Whether true, nutty, or magical, the internet gave those realities their own kind of media infrastructure.
The Basis of all Successful Advertising
“A wonderful story is dazzling and attractive, regardless of whether or not it is true. This is the basis of all successful advertising.” — Roy H. Williams
John Williams’ book review column is titled “Books of the Times.” That’s the column where he left the quote below as a recommendation of Philip Hoare’s new book. Williams is the book reviewer for The New York Times. So, when he recommends a book, you can take it to the bank that it’s worth reading.
The book’s title is “Albert and the Whale: Albrecht Dürer and How Art Imagines Our World.” It is about the life and work of Albrecht Dürer, one of the most influential artists of the Northern Renaissance. Dürer was born in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1471. He died in 1528.
During his lifetime, Dürer traveled to Italy, where he was greatly influenced by the art he saw there. He also made several trips to the Holy Land. These experiences helped him to develop a unique style that combined elements of both Italian and German art.
His prints were trendy in his day and continue to be highly prized by collectors today. Many of his paintings are also highly regarded, although few of them have survived.
Dürer was a master of various media, including woodcuts, etchings, and watercolors. Perhaps he is best known for his woodcuts, which are used to illustrate books and other publications. He also created several famous portraits, including one of Martin Luther.
His art is notable for its realism and use of light and shadow to create a sense of depth. His work often depicted religious subjects, but he also did many secular works.
Dürer was an extremely talented artist, and his work profoundly impacted the development of art in Europe. His legacy continues to be felt today, as his work is still highly respected by artists and art lovers.
Perhaps more important than the book’s content was the review Williams left of its author: “Hoare writes with the license of the nonexpert; you can feel the delight he takes in being unbound by anything but his enthusiasms.” — John Williams
In other words, Hoare was not an academic. Still, he had a profound love for the subject matter and could communicate that passion in his writing. That is something that all great writers share, regardless of their field of expertise.
The lesson here is that you don’t need to be an expert to write compelling content. You just need to have a genuine passion for your topic and the ability to communicate that passion to readers.
Who knows? Your work could have a significant impact on the way people think about your chosen topic.
If you’re passionate about something, don’t let a lack of formal training stop you from sharing what you know.