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What Is the Difference Between Inference and Drawing Conclusions?

by Kristyn Hammond, Demand Media Google

    Inferences and conclusions give you a powerful tool for understanding people and the decisions they make. An inference is an assumed fact, based on information you have at your disposal. A drawn conclusion is an assumption developed as a next logical step for the given information. You can employ inferences and conclusions together to increase the accuracy of your conclusions and learn to better understand the people around you.

    Drawing Conclusions

    Conclusions rely on the facts of a situation to make a determination that is not implicitly stated or implied by the information. Essentially, a conclusion is the next logical step in an information series. A statement requires two conditions to serve as a conclusion. First, it must be a logically derived statement from the available information. Second, it must not be stated or inferred from the available information. For instance, if you know that Jane’s current purse looks discolored and damaged, that she has enough money to buy a new purse, and that she is in the purse aisle of a store, you can conclude that she will buy a new purse. Buying the purse is the next logical step, but there is no inference that suggests she has made the decision to purchase the new purse.

    Making Inferences

    Inferences also rely on facts in a situation, but instead of drawing a conclusion, inferences use facts to determine other facts. You make inferences by examining the facts of a given situation and determining what those facts suggest about the situation. As an example, you may look at Jane’s purse and infer that the damage looks like she sat it down in water. You could also infer that by standing in a store aisle and having money, she is considering buying a new purse. These are both facts, drawn from the available information, and make no prediction on any future action.

    Draw Conclusions From Inferences

    You can use inferences to generate additional information, upon which you can draw a conclusion. For instance, from your inference about the water damage to Jane’s current purse, you may come to the conclusion that she will want to purchase a purse that is more resilient against water damage. By using inferences to gain more information, you can draw conclusions that are more accurate and more specific. Instead of purchasing a new purse, you now can predict which kind of purse she will purchase.

    Make Inferences from Conclusions

    You can also use conclusions to generate additional information about the situation, gathering more inferences. As an example, you see Jane purchase another of the same kind of purse she originally owned and infer that she may not have been very concerned about the water damage. You can use this technique to review situations and learn how to make better inferences and conclusions in the future, or to gain more insight into people, such as Jane’s lack of concern for the water damage to her purse.

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    About the Author

    Kristyn Hammond has been teaching freshman college composition at the university level since 2010. She has experience teaching developmental writing, freshman composition, and freshman composition and research. She currently resides in Central Texas where she works for a small university in the Texas A&M system of schools.

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