Reasoning is the cognitive process of looking for reasons for beliefs, conclusions, actions or feelings (Garnham & Oakhill, 1994). Even if one doesn’t analyze and trace the process of reasoning or even doesn’t qualify own statements as reasoning, it still takes place. However, it is important to distinguish between types of reasoning and identify bad or fallacious reasoning in order to avoid wrong conclusions and misunderstandings in communication. Analysis of reasoning is also useful in the process of making decisions, as it helps to find wrong statements, wrong content or other defects in the reasoning chain.
The aim of this essay is to describe a situation where reasoning was involved, describe the attitudes and assumptions that the subject brought into the selected experience, analyze the role of memory in the described processes of reasoning, consider obstacles in the process of “thinking through”ť the situation. Also, the objective of the essay is to identify types of reasoning involved in the discussed experience and think over the ideas which could help to enhance the reasoning process.
1. Description of situation
Recently there was a situation of professional challenging experience which required efficient “thinking through”ť. I deal with computer programming and one of my tasks is to provide support and add functionality to a database where financial information of the company is stored. An unpleasant incident related to financial fakements happened. All directors and supervisors were in a very bad mood, as the incident has shown a breach in the system of security of the organization, and led to financial losses. My direct supervisor gave me a new urgent task which was aimed to eliminating this breach and introducing a new system of reporting financial results for workers. The realization of such system would take about 3-4 days, and the supervisor knew this. I started working at this system. In the end of the working day the supervisor called me and ordered in an annoyed voice that I would not go home until he gave me the permission to, without explaining the details. I have continued working, but after waiting for 2 hours for the supervisor’s permission to leave home, I decided to call him and ask whether he still needed me, and explain that I wasn’t able to perform intellectual tasks because of tiredness. The supervisor was very annoyed, he shouted at me, told me to stay at the office, and gave some documents to type (which he had been preparing for 2 hours). My first reaction was to remind about my rights and insist on the inefficient spending of my time, however, after some reasoning I decided not to do so. Several hours later, I was allowed to go home, but was strongly reprimanded for “wrong attitude to work”ť and was accused of not caring about the company’s interests. I did my best to explain my reasoning and finally managed to find understanding.
2. Attitudes and assumptions
I have experienced anxiety and confusion in this situation, and was quite annoyed in the end of the working day. Let us analyze these reactions from the positions of classical conditioning. Here both unconditioned stimulus (the order to stay at the office after the end of the working day) and unconditioned reaction (irritation) took place. Also, unconditional stimulus in the form of angry behaviour of the supervisor had an unconditional response in the form of the wish to answer in the same tone, and also conditional response ”“ anxiety and confusion ”“ because the supervisor did not usually act like that before.
The assumptions I have made in this situation were the following:
ĂĽÂ The situation was not good for the whole company, therefore the supervisors had arguments and/or were criticized with the direction
ĂĽÂ The supervisor did not have an intention to make a pressure upon me, but rather might need help on technical questions
ĂĽÂ He was in a stressed state and therefore did not explain his order as it usually happened
3. Obstacles in thinking
The emotions and the feelings inspired by the whole atmosphere in the organization were the factors that conditioned my first reactions and thoughts ”“ the wish to argue and go home (because objectively there was no use of my stay at the office). Also, tiredness and misunderstanding of the complexity of the urgent task given to me by supervisorsÂ caused some stress. Under the influence of these feelings, I have made a wrong decision and called the supervisor in 2 hours after his order. However, then I calmed down and made other conclusions.
In this situation different kinds of intelligence have been involved, mainly interpersonal intelligence (understanding the actions and mood of the supervisor) and general logical intelligence ”“ analyzing the consequences of my actions in long-term perspective (Gardner, 1993).
4. Types of reasoning involved
I have used mostly long-term memory for my reasoning, because I compared the usual behaviour of the supervisor and his current actions, and made a conclusion he was quite stressed. For analyzing the behaviour of the supervisor I used mostly abductive reasoning; then I had to take the decision how to interact with the supervisor in future and whether to report about his unethical behaviour to direction. Here I have applied conditional reasoning and analogical reasoning (Logie & Gilhooly, 1998): basing on the fact that the supervisor pays a lot of attention to relations with employees, I have suggested what would happen if I report about his behaviour to the superior directors. In current situation they would rather make him a critical remark, and then return to solving financial problems. However, he will remember my actions and change his attitude. Taking into account the high importance of attitude to him, I would benefit more if I wouldn’t report anything to the direction. Observational learning and combination of perceptions and decisions was applied. However, if I had applied closer observation at once, the results could have been better.
5. Reasoning enhancement
Reasoning helps us to analyze concepts, definitions, arguments and problems, and contributes to our capacity to organize ideas and issues to deal with questions of value (Garnham & Oakhill, 1994). If I had done the reasoning analysis of the situation at once, I wouldn’t have called the supervisor in the evening. It would be better to apply the interpersonal intelligence at once and understand the condition of the supervisor. In my opinion, it would be more rational to ask him whether I can help and take part of the process of working over the documents.
Generally, our decision making involves the mind (or the brain) sensory mechanism, perception, cognition and the expression of results.
We often will feel, perceive, think, remember and reason in an adaptive conscious and unconscious manner. In our daily lives, when we are faced with problems or just a situation which require a decision, we are often reminded to apply logic and reasoning for the most desired results (Garnham & Oakhill, 1994). Also, logic and reasoning are important in professional life and personal enhancement; they enable a person to develop, find new perspectives in life and make a new step on the path of self-perfection.
The analysis of reasoning presented in the essay shows that in case of preliminary analysis and critical evaluation of all variables involved into reasoning process, the conclusions, response and corresponding actions are more efficient than in case of applying simple reasoning as usual. In general, the awareness of the processes which take place in our brain and knowledge of the mechanisms involved into these process leads to better understanding and to increased personal efficiency.