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.
Deductive reasoning tests try to assess a person's ability to deduct. In practice, we reason deductively when we analyze known facts and draw a logical conclusion from them.
One of the most famous experts in the art of deduction is a fictional character. Sherlock Holmes is one of the great detectives in literature precisely because of his ability to analyze information around him to deduce a conclusion. If you have read the books or if you have seen the movies or television series about this detective, you will have noticed that Sherlock never deduces something using just one argument. He uses several.
Here we come to the first tip to solve deductive reasoning tests: the more facts and information you know, the more precise the conclusions you can draw will be. During the test, carefully read the statements, the problem, and even the possible answers, in the case of the multiple-choice exercises. Try to perceive all the data that you have at your disposal to draw the most accurate conclusion.
Deductive reasoning tests only evaluate this reasoning mechanism and ignore the previous knowledge and the cultural and intellectual development of the examinees. This means that you are on an equal footing with everyone else.
It does not matter if you have not read book X, if you have not seen documentary Y or if you like reggaeton more than classical music. These tests evaluate only the mechanisms of thought, not your knowledge.
A deductive reasoning test analyzes and evaluates only the ability to find and interpret all the relevant information present in the exercise and to draw a logical conclusion from it.
However, this information and data may not correspond to reality. You are not expected to justify or doubt the veracity of the facts presented. You must only interpret them in a logical way.
Some words like "all", "every", "nobody", "some", "many", "few", "always" and "never" can completely change the meaning of a sentence.
Whether you are doing a test of verbal or mechanical deduction, you should always read all the questions and data that they give you very carefully.
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