Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

pp 1-2

Date: Latest Version

Abstract Reasoning

  • David HulacAffiliated withDepartment of School Psychology, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, University of Northern Colorado Email author 


Logical reasoning


The neuropsychological construct of abstract reasoning refers to an individual’s ability to recognize patterns and relationships of theoretical or intangible ideas. Abstract reasoning is contrary to concrete reasoning whereby an individual recognizes patterns in information obtained through the immediate senses. When thinking abstractly, an individual must be able to identify rules and apply those rules to information without the aid of empirical help or personal experience.

Abstract reasoning is most closely related to rational thought as opposed to empirical thought. While using deductive reasoning, a purely rational thinker does not look to determine the accuracy of a premise, but seeks only to understand the relationship between the premises.

An example of deductive reasoning, which requires abstract reasoning, may go like this:
  1. 1.

    Premise 1: Egypt is located in South America.

  2. 2.

    Premise 2: The Sphinx lies in Egypt.

  3. 3.

    Conclusion: The Sphinx is located in ...

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