Although the two terms may sound like quite complicated and scientific, it is quite easy to tell the difference between the two so you can figure out what they mean. Each one of these two methods is more important depending on the nature of the research.
First of all, inductive research is based on inductive reasoning or thought which turns a simple observation or thought into a general theory. In other words it takes one piece of information and tries to generalise it from there. A researcher’s thought path goes from the specific to general and a hypothesis is formed.
Deductive research however, is sort of the opposite of inductive but then again, it isn’t quite. Deductive research takes a lot of information that a researcher may have gathered or general information such as theories, laws or a principle and tries to draw a conclusion directly from that. A deductive thought transforms general theory into a specific hypothesis that a researcher is able to test and prove right or wrong. If the hypothesis is proved to be true or correct, then you may also say that the general idea that sparked the hypothesis is also true.
Neither one of these methods of research is necessarily better than the other, however both have their advantages and disadvantages depending on what research you are conducting. In interpersonal relationships inductive research tends to be the method that is used the most however for general scientific research, deductive research is more popular and the better one to use.
Inductive research is based on inductive thought or reasoning which transforms specific observations into general theory. Here the researcher's thinking goes from the specific to the general. If he observes a pattern in society, he may form a hypothesis on it, conduct surveys or experiments to verify his hypothesis and thus reach a conclusion. However, deductive research is based on deductive thought which transforms general theory into specific hypothesis suitable for testing. In this case the researcher's thinking runs from the general to the specific. He may have a hunch about human behavior or some other social phenomenon and he proceeds to collect data to prove it right or wrong. Working deductively, he first states the theory in the form of a hypothesis and then selects a method by which to test it. If the data supports the hypothesis we conclude that his theory is correct.
Deductive research approach inductive research approach
Hypothesis Tentative Hypothesis