What is Generalization?

Legal Definition
A generalization (or generalisation) is a concept in the inductive sense of that word, or an extension of a concept to less-specific linguistic or mathematical criteria. Generalizations posit the existence of a domain or set of elements, as well as one or more common characteristics shared by those elements (thus creating a conceptual model). As such, they are the essential basis of all valid deductive inferences. The process of verification is necessary to determine whether a generalization holds true for any given situation.

Generalization may be defined as, 'The process of identifying the parts of a whole, as belonging to the whole'. The parts, completely unrelated may be brought together as a group, belonging to the whole by establishing a common relation between them.

It must be stated that, the parts cannot be generalized into a whole until a common relation is established among all the parts. But this does not mean that the parts are unrelated, only that no common relation has been established yet for the generalization.

The concept of generalization has broad application in many related disciplines, sometimes having a specialized context or meaning.

Of any two related concepts, such as A and B, A is a "generalization" of B, and B is a special case of A, if and only if

  • every instance of concept B is also an instance of concept A; and
  • there are instances of concept A which are not instances of concept B.

For instance, animal is a generalization of bird because every bird is an animal, and there are animals which are not birds (dogs, for instance). (See also: Specialisation (biology)).
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
Thought process inductively applying one or more experiences and impressions as representative of an entire class / category of events, objects, or phenomenon. Leads to discriminatory or prejudicial behavior in narrow application. People build mental models of their world by this common process. Refer to inductive reasoning.