Your reasoning skills can often come in handy! Here’s how you can improve and develop them.
The impact of reasoning skills in everyday life
Without reasoning skills, we would simply be following one another robotically. There would also be very little chance for any opportunity to develop critical thinking or challenge the scientific theory.
It is also considered that reasoning skills have a far wider and more extensive range, including problem-solving, information processing and creative thinking. Therefore, it is easy to see why reasoning skills are essential to mature, developed thinking, whether in the classroom or in the workplace.
There are a number of different circumstances which may allow for you to put your reasoning skills to the test. Maybe you are trying to negotiate better pay, or, maybe you are trying to come to terms with a situation that requires logical thought.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to develop your reasoning skills, you might find some of these science-backed pointers a good place to start.
1. Take a rounded view
According to a study by MS Schen, there are two major categories for the need to reason – argumentation and hypothetico-deductive reasoning.
With the first, Schen recognised that argumentation often considers facts or data. The hypothetico-deductive reasoning is when those facts can be falsifyable because they can measure against observable data.
She concluded that there is a link between the hypothetico-deductive reasoning and argumentation. This is in spite of one being based on more socio-scientific situations. She went a step further, stating that social situations can have an effect on argumentation to identify a more tangible and rounded view.
2. Adopt an outsider’s perspective
Schen’s findings also tell us that a more rounded argument, using both fact and situational data, can help us to see things from an outsider’s perspective.
Giving advice to others is easier than making decisions for yourself. This is largely because you can be objective when the situation doesn’t directly affect you. So when you face a big decision, it helps to pretend that you’re giving advice to someone else as it can help with your reasoning process.
There are some studies which say the distance from a conflict promotes wiser reasoning. That is because when you understand how the decision-making process occurs, it’s easier for you to start making smarter decisions.
As such, the ability to search for a compromise, consider the perspectives of others and recognise the possible ways in which the scenario could unfold, all help in the development of reasoning skills.
3. Ask questions but leave a silence
Linking to Schen’s research, in being more argumentative, we can observe that facts can be posed as questions. Once asked, it is recommended to leave a gap of silence before allowing anyone to answer.
Cognitive research shows that a pause is necessary for the human brain to sufficiently process a question and formulate a reasonable response. Even 15 seconds of silence can seem a long time in a class session.
However, setting this expectation assures that one eager student will not end the thinking process for the entire group. Particularly before all have had some time to practice their critical thinking skills.
4. Consider the logic
Logic will let us analyse an argument or a piece of reasoning and work out if it’s likely to be correct. We use logic because it also could show us the relationship between the parts of an idea and the whole idea.
Someone with critical thinking and reasoning skills is able to understand the logical connections between ideas and, therefore, see the bigger picture. In life, these skills are vital too. Many people are taken advantage of because of their lack of critical thought and logic.
Whilst the true value of “logic” is disputed because it varies so vastly between human brains, there is some sense in considering logic in the development of reasoning skills.
Logic can come in the form of questions. Ask yourself questions while you are reading or absorbing information. Why is this happening? Why does this make sense? Or why does this not make sense?
According to a psychologist at Harvard Medical school, asking “why?” will help you process the information you are reading and apply it in your reasoning. Questions can also help you process and make meaning of the information you have just read.
For example, you can ask yourself the following questions after reading a paragraph:
- “What new facts did I just learn?”
- “How do these new facts relate to facts I already know?”
- “What were the main themes of what I read?”
- “Why are these themes important?”
- “What further questions do I have?”
If you are looking for a few ways to develop your own reasoning skills, make sure you can make a rounded argument, adopt someone else’s point of view, ask questions and consider the logic.