Deductive reasoning – the mental process of making inferences that are logical - is a central cognitive process and a major component of intelligence1.
What might be called a “dedicated intelligence”, refers to the ability to solve predefined problems that often involve well-established rules2 and models3 – like learning to play an instrument, solving a puzzle, or many of our mundane life tasks like deciding your shopping list. Generally speaking, these tasks are rule-based and deterministic4. Another way to explain this would be “theory leads to practice”, where knowledge of theoretical principles is applied correctly to solve problems.
This cognitive mechanism dwells within conscious awareness, providing a smooth allocation of resources (e.g. memory stores, planning, attention, action algorithms) toward effective responses to ongoing, predictable, environmental demands5.
There is some evidence that individuals of higher intelligence are more accurate in making deductions6. Deductive reasoning cognitive abilities are also highly correlated with a staggering array of fitness indicators, including health, education, occupation, income, and longevity7.
1 Johnson-Laird, P. (2009). Deductive reasoning. WIREs Cognitive Science. 1(1).
2 Cosmides, L., and Tooby, J. (2002). Unraveling the enigma of human intelligence: evolutionary psychology and the multimodular mind. in R. J. Sternberg and J. C. Kaufman(Eds) The Evolution of Intelligence, 145–198. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
3 Johnson-Laird, P. (1999). Deductive reasoning. Annual Review of Psychology, 50, 109-135.
4 Jung, R. (2014). Evolution, creativity, intelligence, and madness: “Here Be Dragons”. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(784) 1-3. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.0078
5 Jung, 2014
6 Stanovich, K. (1999). Who is Rational? Studies of Individual Differences in Reasoning. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
7 Gottfredson, L. S. (1997). Mainstream science on intelligence: an editorial with 52 signatories, history, and bibliography (Reprinted from The Wall Street Journal, 1994). Intelligence 24, 13–23. doi: 10.1016/S0160-2896(97)90011-8