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What Is A Research (Scientific) Hypothesis? A plain-language explainer + examples

By:  Derek Jansen (MBA)  | Reviewed By: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | June 2020

If you’re new to the world of research, or it’s your first time writing a dissertation or thesis, you’re probably noticing that the words “research hypothesis” and “scientific hypothesis” are used quite a bit, and you’re wondering what they mean in a research context .

“Hypothesis” is one of those words that people use loosely, thinking they understand what it means. However, it has a very specific meaning within academic research. So, it’s important to understand the exact meaning before you start hypothesizing. 

Research Hypothesis 101

  • What is a hypothesis ?
  • What is a research hypothesis (scientific hypothesis)?
  • Requirements for a research hypothesis
  • Definition of a research hypothesis
  • The null hypothesis

What is a hypothesis?

Let’s start with the general definition of a hypothesis (not a research hypothesis or scientific hypothesis), according to the Cambridge Dictionary:

Hypothesis: an idea or explanation for something that is based on known facts but has not yet been proved.

In other words, it’s a statement that provides an explanation for why or how something works, based on facts (or some reasonable assumptions), but that has not yet been specifically tested . For example, a hypothesis might look something like this:

Hypothesis: sleep impacts academic performance.

This statement predicts that academic performance will be influenced by the amount and/or quality of sleep a student engages in – sounds reasonable, right? It’s based on reasonable assumptions , underpinned by what we currently know about sleep and health (from the existing literature). So, loosely speaking, we could call it a hypothesis, at least by the dictionary definition.

But that’s not good enough…

Unfortunately, that’s not quite sophisticated enough to describe a research hypothesis (also sometimes called a scientific hypothesis), and it wouldn’t be acceptable in a dissertation, thesis or research paper . In the world of academic research, a statement needs a few more criteria to constitute a true research hypothesis .

What is a research hypothesis?

A research hypothesis (also called a scientific hypothesis) is a statement about the expected outcome of a study (for example, a dissertation or thesis). To constitute a quality hypothesis, the statement needs to have three attributes – specificity , clarity and testability .

Let’s take a look at these more closely.

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what is research testing hypothesis

Hypothesis Essential #1: Specificity & Clarity

A good research hypothesis needs to be extremely clear and articulate about both what’ s being assessed (who or what variables are involved ) and the expected outcome (for example, a difference between groups, a relationship between variables, etc.).

Let’s stick with our sleepy students example and look at how this statement could be more specific and clear.

Hypothesis: Students who sleep at least 8 hours per night will, on average, achieve higher grades in standardised tests than students who sleep less than 8 hours a night.

As you can see, the statement is very specific as it identifies the variables involved (sleep hours and test grades), the parties involved (two groups of students), as well as the predicted relationship type (a positive relationship). There’s no ambiguity or uncertainty about who or what is involved in the statement, and the expected outcome is clear.

Contrast that to the original hypothesis we looked at – “Sleep impacts academic performance” – and you can see the difference. “Sleep” and “academic performance” are both comparatively vague , and there’s no indication of what the expected relationship direction is (more sleep or less sleep). As you can see, specificity and clarity are key.

A good research hypothesis needs to be very clear about what’s being assessed and very specific about the expected outcome.

Hypothesis Essential #2: Testability (Provability)

A statement must be testable to qualify as a research hypothesis. In other words, there needs to be a way to prove (or disprove) the statement. If it’s not testable, it’s not a hypothesis – simple as that.

For example, consider the hypothesis we mentioned earlier:

Hypothesis: Students who sleep at least 8 hours per night will, on average, achieve higher grades in standardised tests than students who sleep less than 8 hours a night.  

We could test this statement by undertaking a quantitative study involving two groups of students, one that gets 8 or more hours of sleep per night for a fixed period, and one that gets less. We could then compare the standardised test results for both groups to see if there’s a statistically significant difference. 

Again, if you compare this to the original hypothesis we looked at – “Sleep impacts academic performance” – you can see that it would be quite difficult to test that statement, primarily because it isn’t specific enough. How much sleep? By who? What type of academic performance?

So, remember the mantra – if you can’t test it, it’s not a hypothesis 🙂

A good research hypothesis must be testable. In other words, you must able to collect observable data in a scientifically rigorous fashion to test it.

Defining A Research Hypothesis

You’re still with us? Great! Let’s recap and pin down a clear definition of a hypothesis.

A research hypothesis (or scientific hypothesis) is a statement about an expected relationship between variables, or explanation of an occurrence, that is clear, specific and testable.

So, when you write up hypotheses for your dissertation or thesis, make sure that they meet all these criteria. If you do, you’ll not only have rock-solid hypotheses but you’ll also ensure a clear focus for your entire research project.

What about the null hypothesis?

You may have also heard the terms null hypothesis , alternative hypothesis, or H-zero thrown around. At a simple level, the null hypothesis is the counter-proposal to the original hypothesis.

For example, if the hypothesis predicts that there is a relationship between two variables (for example, sleep and academic performance), the null hypothesis would predict that there is no relationship between those variables.

At a more technical level, the null hypothesis proposes that no statistical significance exists in a set of given observations and that any differences are due to chance alone.

And there you have it – hypotheses in a nutshell. 

If you have any questions, be sure to leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help you. If you need hands-on help developing and testing your hypotheses, consider our private coaching service , where we hold your hand through the research journey.

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16 Comments

Lynnet Chikwaikwai

Very useful information. I benefit more from getting more information in this regard.

Dr. WuodArek

Very great insight,educative and informative. Please give meet deep critics on many research data of public international Law like human rights, environment, natural resources, law of the sea etc

Afshin

In a book I read a distinction is made between null, research, and alternative hypothesis. As far as I understand, alternative and research hypotheses are the same. Can you please elaborate? Best Afshin

GANDI Benjamin

This is a self explanatory, easy going site. I will recommend this to my friends and colleagues.

Lucile Dossou-Yovo

Very good definition. How can I cite your definition in my thesis? Thank you. Is nul hypothesis compulsory in a research?

Pereria

It’s a counter-proposal to be proven as a rejection

Egya Salihu

Please what is the difference between alternate hypothesis and research hypothesis?

Mulugeta Tefera

It is a very good explanation. However, it limits hypotheses to statistically tasteable ideas. What about for qualitative researches or other researches that involve quantitative data that don’t need statistical tests?

Derek Jansen

In qualitative research, one typically uses propositions, not hypotheses.

Samia

could you please elaborate it more

Patricia Nyawir

I’ve benefited greatly from these notes, thank you.

Hopeson Khondiwa

This is very helpful

Dr. Andarge

well articulated ideas are presented here, thank you for being reliable sources of information

TAUNO

Excellent. Thanks for being clear and sound about the research methodology and hypothesis (quantitative research)

I have only a simple question regarding the null hypothesis. – Is the null hypothesis (Ho) known as the reversible hypothesis of the alternative hypothesis (H1? – How to test it in academic research?

Tesfaye Negesa Urge

this is very important note help me much more

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S.3 hypothesis testing.

In reviewing hypothesis tests, we start first with the general idea. Then, we keep returning to the basic procedures of hypothesis testing, each time adding a little more detail.

The general idea of hypothesis testing involves:

  • Making an initial assumption.
  • Collecting evidence (data).
  • Based on the available evidence (data), deciding whether to reject or not reject the initial assumption.

Every hypothesis test — regardless of the population parameter involved — requires the above three steps.

Example S.3.1

Is normal body temperature really 98.6 degrees f section  .

Consider the population of many, many adults. A researcher hypothesized that the average adult body temperature is lower than the often-advertised 98.6 degrees F. That is, the researcher wants an answer to the question: "Is the average adult body temperature 98.6 degrees? Or is it lower?" To answer his research question, the researcher starts by assuming that the average adult body temperature was 98.6 degrees F.

Then, the researcher went out and tried to find evidence that refutes his initial assumption. In doing so, he selects a random sample of 130 adults. The average body temperature of the 130 sampled adults is 98.25 degrees.

Then, the researcher uses the data he collected to make a decision about his initial assumption. It is either likely or unlikely that the researcher would collect the evidence he did given his initial assumption that the average adult body temperature is 98.6 degrees:

  • If it is likely , then the researcher does not reject his initial assumption that the average adult body temperature is 98.6 degrees. There is not enough evidence to do otherwise.
  • either the researcher's initial assumption is correct and he experienced a very unusual event;
  • or the researcher's initial assumption is incorrect.

In statistics, we generally don't make claims that require us to believe that a very unusual event happened. That is, in the practice of statistics, if the evidence (data) we collected is unlikely in light of the initial assumption, then we reject our initial assumption.

Example S.3.2

Criminal trial analogy section  .

One place where you can consistently see the general idea of hypothesis testing in action is in criminal trials held in the United States. Our criminal justice system assumes "the defendant is innocent until proven guilty." That is, our initial assumption is that the defendant is innocent.

In the practice of statistics, we make our initial assumption when we state our two competing hypotheses -- the null hypothesis ( H 0 ) and the alternative hypothesis ( H A ). Here, our hypotheses are:

  • H 0 : Defendant is not guilty (innocent)
  • H A : Defendant is guilty

In statistics, we always assume the null hypothesis is true . That is, the null hypothesis is always our initial assumption.

The prosecution team then collects evidence — such as finger prints, blood spots, hair samples, carpet fibers, shoe prints, ransom notes, and handwriting samples — with the hopes of finding "sufficient evidence" to make the assumption of innocence refutable.

In statistics, the data are the evidence.

The jury then makes a decision based on the available evidence:

  • If the jury finds sufficient evidence — beyond a reasonable doubt — to make the assumption of innocence refutable, the jury rejects the null hypothesis and deems the defendant guilty. We behave as if the defendant is guilty.
  • If there is insufficient evidence, then the jury does not reject the null hypothesis . We behave as if the defendant is innocent.

In statistics, we always make one of two decisions. We either "reject the null hypothesis" or we "fail to reject the null hypothesis."

Errors in Hypothesis Testing Section  

Did you notice the use of the phrase "behave as if" in the previous discussion? We "behave as if" the defendant is guilty; we do not "prove" that the defendant is guilty. And, we "behave as if" the defendant is innocent; we do not "prove" that the defendant is innocent.

This is a very important distinction! We make our decision based on evidence not on 100% guaranteed proof. Again:

  • If we reject the null hypothesis, we do not prove that the alternative hypothesis is true.
  • If we do not reject the null hypothesis, we do not prove that the null hypothesis is true.

We merely state that there is enough evidence to behave one way or the other. This is always true in statistics! Because of this, whatever the decision, there is always a chance that we made an error .

Let's review the two types of errors that can be made in criminal trials:

Table S.3.2 shows how this corresponds to the two types of errors in hypothesis testing.

Note that, in statistics, we call the two types of errors by two different  names -- one is called a "Type I error," and the other is called  a "Type II error." Here are the formal definitions of the two types of errors:

There is always a chance of making one of these errors. But, a good scientific study will minimize the chance of doing so!

Making the Decision Section  

Recall that it is either likely or unlikely that we would observe the evidence we did given our initial assumption. If it is likely , we do not reject the null hypothesis. If it is unlikely , then we reject the null hypothesis in favor of the alternative hypothesis. Effectively, then, making the decision reduces to determining "likely" or "unlikely."

In statistics, there are two ways to determine whether the evidence is likely or unlikely given the initial assumption:

  • We could take the " critical value approach " (favored in many of the older textbooks).
  • Or, we could take the " P -value approach " (what is used most often in research, journal articles, and statistical software).

In the next two sections, we review the procedures behind each of these two approaches. To make our review concrete, let's imagine that μ is the average grade point average of all American students who major in mathematics. We first review the critical value approach for conducting each of the following three hypothesis tests about the population mean $\mu$:

In Practice

  • We would want to conduct the first hypothesis test if we were interested in concluding that the average grade point average of the group is more than 3.
  • We would want to conduct the second hypothesis test if we were interested in concluding that the average grade point average of the group is less than 3.
  • And, we would want to conduct the third hypothesis test if we were only interested in concluding that the average grade point average of the group differs from 3 (without caring whether it is more or less than 3).

Upon completing the review of the critical value approach, we review the P -value approach for conducting each of the above three hypothesis tests about the population mean \(\mu\). The procedures that we review here for both approaches easily extend to hypothesis tests about any other population parameter.

Hypothesis Testing

When you conduct a piece of quantitative research, you are inevitably attempting to answer a research question or hypothesis that you have set. One method of evaluating this research question is via a process called hypothesis testing , which is sometimes also referred to as significance testing . Since there are many facets to hypothesis testing, we start with the example we refer to throughout this guide.

An example of a lecturer's dilemma

Two statistics lecturers, Sarah and Mike, think that they use the best method to teach their students. Each lecturer has 50 statistics students who are studying a graduate degree in management. In Sarah's class, students have to attend one lecture and one seminar class every week, whilst in Mike's class students only have to attend one lecture. Sarah thinks that seminars, in addition to lectures, are an important teaching method in statistics, whilst Mike believes that lectures are sufficient by themselves and thinks that students are better off solving problems by themselves in their own time. This is the first year that Sarah has given seminars, but since they take up a lot of her time, she wants to make sure that she is not wasting her time and that seminars improve her students' performance.

The research hypothesis

The first step in hypothesis testing is to set a research hypothesis. In Sarah and Mike's study, the aim is to examine the effect that two different teaching methods – providing both lectures and seminar classes (Sarah), and providing lectures by themselves (Mike) – had on the performance of Sarah's 50 students and Mike's 50 students. More specifically, they want to determine whether performance is different between the two different teaching methods. Whilst Mike is skeptical about the effectiveness of seminars, Sarah clearly believes that giving seminars in addition to lectures helps her students do better than those in Mike's class. This leads to the following research hypothesis:

Before moving onto the second step of the hypothesis testing process, we need to take you on a brief detour to explain why you need to run hypothesis testing at all. This is explained next.

Sample to population

If you have measured individuals (or any other type of "object") in a study and want to understand differences (or any other type of effect), you can simply summarize the data you have collected. For example, if Sarah and Mike wanted to know which teaching method was the best, they could simply compare the performance achieved by the two groups of students – the group of students that took lectures and seminar classes, and the group of students that took lectures by themselves – and conclude that the best method was the teaching method which resulted in the highest performance. However, this is generally of only limited appeal because the conclusions could only apply to students in this study. However, if those students were representative of all statistics students on a graduate management degree, the study would have wider appeal.

In statistics terminology, the students in the study are the sample and the larger group they represent (i.e., all statistics students on a graduate management degree) is called the population . Given that the sample of statistics students in the study are representative of a larger population of statistics students, you can use hypothesis testing to understand whether any differences or effects discovered in the study exist in the population. In layman's terms, hypothesis testing is used to establish whether a research hypothesis extends beyond those individuals examined in a single study.

Another example could be taking a sample of 200 breast cancer sufferers in order to test a new drug that is designed to eradicate this type of cancer. As much as you are interested in helping these specific 200 cancer sufferers, your real goal is to establish that the drug works in the population (i.e., all breast cancer sufferers).

As such, by taking a hypothesis testing approach, Sarah and Mike want to generalize their results to a population rather than just the students in their sample. However, in order to use hypothesis testing, you need to re-state your research hypothesis as a null and alternative hypothesis. Before you can do this, it is best to consider the process/structure involved in hypothesis testing and what you are measuring. This structure is presented on the next page .

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Hypothesis Testing – A Complete Guide with Examples

Published by Alvin Nicolas at August 14th, 2021 , Revised On October 26, 2023

In statistics, hypothesis testing is a critical tool. It allows us to make informed decisions about populations based on sample data. Whether you are a researcher trying to prove a scientific point, a marketer analysing A/B test results, or a manufacturer ensuring quality control, hypothesis testing plays a pivotal role. This guide aims to introduce you to the concept and walk you through real-world examples.

What is a Hypothesis and a Hypothesis Testing?

A hypothesis is considered a belief or assumption that has to be accepted, rejected, proved or disproved. In contrast, a research hypothesis is a research question for a researcher that has to be proven correct or incorrect through investigation.

What is Hypothesis Testing?

Hypothesis testing  is a scientific method used for making a decision and drawing conclusions by using a statistical approach. It is used to suggest new ideas by testing theories to know whether or not the sample data supports research. A research hypothesis is a predictive statement that has to be tested using scientific methods that join an independent variable to a dependent variable.  

Example: The academic performance of student A is better than student B

Characteristics of the Hypothesis to be Tested

A hypothesis should be:

  • Clear and precise
  • Capable of being tested
  • Able to relate to a variable
  • Stated in simple terms
  • Consistent with known facts
  • Limited in scope and specific
  • Tested in a limited timeframe
  • Explain the facts in detail

What is a Null Hypothesis and Alternative Hypothesis?

A  null hypothesis  is a hypothesis when there is no significant relationship between the dependent and the participants’ independent  variables . 

In simple words, it’s a hypothesis that has been put forth but hasn’t been proved as yet. A researcher aims to disprove the theory. The abbreviation “Ho” is used to denote a null hypothesis.

If you want to compare two methods and assume that both methods are equally good, this assumption is considered the null hypothesis.

Example: In an automobile trial, you feel that the new vehicle’s mileage is similar to the previous model of the car, on average. You can write it as: Ho: there is no difference between the mileage of both vehicles. If your findings don’t support your hypothesis and you get opposite results, this outcome will be considered an alternative hypothesis.

If you assume that one method is better than another method, then it’s considered an alternative hypothesis. The alternative hypothesis is the theory that a researcher seeks to prove and is typically denoted by H1 or HA.

If you support a null hypothesis, it means you’re not supporting the alternative hypothesis. Similarly, if you reject a null hypothesis, it means you are recommending the alternative hypothesis.

Example: In an automobile trial, you feel that the new vehicle’s mileage is better than the previous model of the vehicle. You can write it as; Ha: the two vehicles have different mileage. On average/ the fuel consumption of the new vehicle model is better than the previous model.

If a null hypothesis is rejected during the hypothesis test, even if it’s true, then it is considered as a type-I error. On the other hand, if you don’t dismiss a hypothesis, even if it’s false because you could not identify its falseness, it’s considered a type-II error.

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How to Conduct Hypothesis Testing?

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to conduct hypothesis testing.

Step 1: State the Null and Alternative Hypothesis

Once you develop a research hypothesis, it’s important to state it is as a Null hypothesis (Ho) and an Alternative hypothesis (Ha) to test it statistically.

A null hypothesis is a preferred choice as it provides the opportunity to test the theory. In contrast, you can accept the alternative hypothesis when the null hypothesis has been rejected.

Example: You want to identify a relationship between obesity of men and women and the modern living style. You develop a hypothesis that women, on average, gain weight quickly compared to men. Then you write it as: Ho: Women, on average, don’t gain weight quickly compared to men. Ha: Women, on average, gain weight quickly compared to men.

Step 2: Data Collection

Hypothesis testing follows the statistical method, and statistics are all about data. It’s challenging to gather complete information about a specific population you want to study. You need to  gather the data  obtained through a large number of samples from a specific population. 

Example: Suppose you want to test the difference in the rate of obesity between men and women. You should include an equal number of men and women in your sample. Then investigate various aspects such as their lifestyle, eating patterns and profession, and any other variables that may influence average weight. You should also determine your study’s scope, whether it applies to a specific group of population or worldwide population. You can use available information from various places, countries, and regions.

Step 3: Select Appropriate Statistical Test

There are many  types of statistical tests , but we discuss the most two common types below, such as One-sided and two-sided tests.

Note: Your choice of the type of test depends on the purpose of your study 

One-sided Test

In the one-sided test, the values of rejecting a null hypothesis are located in one tail of the probability distribution. The set of values is less or higher than the critical value of the test. It is also called a one-tailed test of significance.

Example: If you want to test that all mangoes in a basket are ripe. You can write it as: Ho: All mangoes in the basket, on average, are ripe. If you find all ripe mangoes in the basket, the null hypothesis you developed will be true.

Two-sided Test

In the two-sided test, the values of rejecting a null hypothesis are located on both tails of the probability distribution. The set of values is less or higher than the first critical value of the test and higher than the second critical value test. It is also called a two-tailed test of significance. 

Example: Nothing can be explicitly said whether all mangoes are ripe in the basket. If you reject the null hypothesis (Ho: All mangoes in the basket, on average, are ripe), then it means all mangoes in the basket are not likely to be ripe. A few mangoes could be raw as well.

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Step 4: Select the Level of Significance

When you reject a null hypothesis, even if it’s true during a statistical hypothesis, it is considered the  significance level . It is the probability of a type one error. The significance should be as minimum as possible to avoid the type-I error, which is considered severe and should be avoided. 

If the significance level is minimum, then it prevents the researchers from false claims. 

The significance level is denoted by  P,  and it has given the value of 0.05 (P=0.05)

If the P-Value is less than 0.05, then the difference will be significant. If the P-value is higher than 0.05, then the difference is non-significant.

Example: Suppose you apply a one-sided test to test whether women gain weight quickly compared to men. You get to know about the average weight between men and women and the factors promoting weight gain.

Step 5: Find out Whether the Null Hypothesis is Rejected or Supported

After conducting a statistical test, you should identify whether your null hypothesis is rejected or accepted based on the test results. It would help if you observed the P-value for this.

Example: If you find the P-value of your test is less than 0.5/5%, then you need to reject your null hypothesis (Ho: Women, on average, don’t gain weight quickly compared to men). On the other hand, if a null hypothesis is rejected, then it means the alternative hypothesis might be true (Ha: Women, on average, gain weight quickly compared to men. If you find your test’s P-value is above 0.5/5%, then it means your null hypothesis is true.

Step 6: Present the Outcomes of your Study

The final step is to present the  outcomes of your study . You need to ensure whether you have met the objectives of your research or not. 

In the discussion section and  conclusion , you can present your findings by using supporting evidence and conclude whether your null hypothesis was rejected or supported.

In the result section, you can summarise your study’s outcomes, including the average difference and P-value of the two groups.

If we talk about the findings, our study your results will be as follows:

Example: In the study of identifying whether women gain weight quickly compared to men, we found the P-value is less than 0.5. Hence, we can reject the null hypothesis (Ho: Women, on average, don’t gain weight quickly than men) and conclude that women may likely gain weight quickly than men.

Did you know in your academic paper you should not mention whether you have accepted or rejected the null hypothesis? 

Always remember that you either conclude to reject Ho in favor of Haor   do not reject Ho . It would help if you never rejected  Ha  or even  accept Ha .

Suppose your null hypothesis is rejected in the hypothesis testing. If you conclude  reject Ho in favor of Haor   do not reject Ho,  then it doesn’t mean that the null hypothesis is true. It only means that there is a lack of evidence against Ho in favour of Ha. If your null hypothesis is not true, then the alternative hypothesis is likely to be true.

Example: We found that the P-value is less than 0.5. Hence, we can conclude reject Ho in favour of Ha (Ho: Women, on average, don’t gain weight quickly than men) reject Ho in favour of Ha. However, rejected in favour of Ha means (Ha: women may likely to gain weight quickly than men)

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 3 types of hypothesis test.

The 3 types of hypothesis tests are:

  • One-Sample Test : Compare sample data to a known population value.
  • Two-Sample Test : Compare means between two sample groups.
  • ANOVA : Analyze variance among multiple groups to determine significant differences.

What is a hypothesis?

A hypothesis is a proposed explanation or prediction about a phenomenon, often based on observations. It serves as a starting point for research or experimentation, providing a testable statement that can either be supported or refuted through data and analysis. In essence, it’s an educated guess that drives scientific inquiry.

What are null hypothesis?

A null hypothesis (often denoted as H0) suggests that there is no effect or difference in a study or experiment. It represents a default position or status quo. Statistical tests evaluate data to determine if there’s enough evidence to reject this null hypothesis.

What is the probability value?

The probability value, or p-value, is a measure used in statistics to determine the significance of an observed effect. It indicates the probability of obtaining the observed results, or more extreme, if the null hypothesis were true. A small p-value (typically <0.05) suggests evidence against the null hypothesis, warranting its rejection.

What is p value?

The p-value is a fundamental concept in statistical hypothesis testing. It represents the probability of observing a test statistic as extreme, or more so, than the one calculated from sample data, assuming the null hypothesis is true. A low p-value suggests evidence against the null, possibly justifying its rejection.

What is a t test?

A t-test is a statistical test used to compare the means of two groups. It determines if observed differences between the groups are statistically significant or if they likely occurred by chance. Commonly applied in research, there are different t-tests, including independent, paired, and one-sample, tailored to various data scenarios.

When to reject null hypothesis?

Reject the null hypothesis when the test statistic falls into a predefined rejection region or when the p-value is less than the chosen significance level (commonly 0.05). This suggests that the observed data is unlikely under the null hypothesis, indicating evidence for the alternative hypothesis. Always consider the study’s context.

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Research Hypothesis In Psychology: Types, & Examples

Saul Mcleod, PhD

Editor-in-Chief for Simply Psychology

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Saul Mcleod, PhD., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years of experience in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

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On This Page:

A research hypothesis, in its plural form “hypotheses,” is a specific, testable prediction about the anticipated results of a study, established at its outset. It is a key component of the scientific method .

Hypotheses connect theory to data and guide the research process towards expanding scientific understanding

Some key points about hypotheses:

  • A hypothesis expresses an expected pattern or relationship. It connects the variables under investigation.
  • It is stated in clear, precise terms before any data collection or analysis occurs. This makes the hypothesis testable.
  • A hypothesis must be falsifiable. It should be possible, even if unlikely in practice, to collect data that disconfirms rather than supports the hypothesis.
  • Hypotheses guide research. Scientists design studies to explicitly evaluate hypotheses about how nature works.
  • For a hypothesis to be valid, it must be testable against empirical evidence. The evidence can then confirm or disprove the testable predictions.
  • Hypotheses are informed by background knowledge and observation, but go beyond what is already known to propose an explanation of how or why something occurs.
Predictions typically arise from a thorough knowledge of the research literature, curiosity about real-world problems or implications, and integrating this to advance theory. They build on existing literature while providing new insight.

Types of Research Hypotheses

Alternative hypothesis.

The research hypothesis is often called the alternative or experimental hypothesis in experimental research.

It typically suggests a potential relationship between two key variables: the independent variable, which the researcher manipulates, and the dependent variable, which is measured based on those changes.

The alternative hypothesis states a relationship exists between the two variables being studied (one variable affects the other).

A hypothesis is a testable statement or prediction about the relationship between two or more variables. It is a key component of the scientific method. Some key points about hypotheses:

  • Important hypotheses lead to predictions that can be tested empirically. The evidence can then confirm or disprove the testable predictions.

In summary, a hypothesis is a precise, testable statement of what researchers expect to happen in a study and why. Hypotheses connect theory to data and guide the research process towards expanding scientific understanding.

An experimental hypothesis predicts what change(s) will occur in the dependent variable when the independent variable is manipulated.

It states that the results are not due to chance and are significant in supporting the theory being investigated.

The alternative hypothesis can be directional, indicating a specific direction of the effect, or non-directional, suggesting a difference without specifying its nature. It’s what researchers aim to support or demonstrate through their study.

Null Hypothesis

The null hypothesis states no relationship exists between the two variables being studied (one variable does not affect the other). There will be no changes in the dependent variable due to manipulating the independent variable.

It states results are due to chance and are not significant in supporting the idea being investigated.

The null hypothesis, positing no effect or relationship, is a foundational contrast to the research hypothesis in scientific inquiry. It establishes a baseline for statistical testing, promoting objectivity by initiating research from a neutral stance.

Many statistical methods are tailored to test the null hypothesis, determining the likelihood of observed results if no true effect exists.

This dual-hypothesis approach provides clarity, ensuring that research intentions are explicit, and fosters consistency across scientific studies, enhancing the standardization and interpretability of research outcomes.

Nondirectional Hypothesis

A non-directional hypothesis, also known as a two-tailed hypothesis, predicts that there is a difference or relationship between two variables but does not specify the direction of this relationship.

It merely indicates that a change or effect will occur without predicting which group will have higher or lower values.

For example, “There is a difference in performance between Group A and Group B” is a non-directional hypothesis.

Directional Hypothesis

A directional (one-tailed) hypothesis predicts the nature of the effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable. It predicts in which direction the change will take place. (i.e., greater, smaller, less, more)

It specifies whether one variable is greater, lesser, or different from another, rather than just indicating that there’s a difference without specifying its nature.

For example, “Exercise increases weight loss” is a directional hypothesis.

hypothesis

Falsifiability

The Falsification Principle, proposed by Karl Popper , is a way of demarcating science from non-science. It suggests that for a theory or hypothesis to be considered scientific, it must be testable and irrefutable.

Falsifiability emphasizes that scientific claims shouldn’t just be confirmable but should also have the potential to be proven wrong.

It means that there should exist some potential evidence or experiment that could prove the proposition false.

However many confirming instances exist for a theory, it only takes one counter observation to falsify it. For example, the hypothesis that “all swans are white,” can be falsified by observing a black swan.

For Popper, science should attempt to disprove a theory rather than attempt to continually provide evidence to support a research hypothesis.

Can a Hypothesis be Proven?

Hypotheses make probabilistic predictions. They state the expected outcome if a particular relationship exists. However, a study result supporting a hypothesis does not definitively prove it is true.

All studies have limitations. There may be unknown confounding factors or issues that limit the certainty of conclusions. Additional studies may yield different results.

In science, hypotheses can realistically only be supported with some degree of confidence, not proven. The process of science is to incrementally accumulate evidence for and against hypothesized relationships in an ongoing pursuit of better models and explanations that best fit the empirical data. But hypotheses remain open to revision and rejection if that is where the evidence leads.
  • Disproving a hypothesis is definitive. Solid disconfirmatory evidence will falsify a hypothesis and require altering or discarding it based on the evidence.
  • However, confirming evidence is always open to revision. Other explanations may account for the same results, and additional or contradictory evidence may emerge over time.

We can never 100% prove the alternative hypothesis. Instead, we see if we can disprove, or reject the null hypothesis.

If we reject the null hypothesis, this doesn’t mean that our alternative hypothesis is correct but does support the alternative/experimental hypothesis.

Upon analysis of the results, an alternative hypothesis can be rejected or supported, but it can never be proven to be correct. We must avoid any reference to results proving a theory as this implies 100% certainty, and there is always a chance that evidence may exist which could refute a theory.

How to Write a Hypothesis

  • Identify variables . The researcher manipulates the independent variable and the dependent variable is the measured outcome.
  • Operationalized the variables being investigated . Operationalization of a hypothesis refers to the process of making the variables physically measurable or testable, e.g. if you are about to study aggression, you might count the number of punches given by participants.
  • Decide on a direction for your prediction . If there is evidence in the literature to support a specific effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable, write a directional (one-tailed) hypothesis. If there are limited or ambiguous findings in the literature regarding the effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable, write a non-directional (two-tailed) hypothesis.
  • Make it Testable : Ensure your hypothesis can be tested through experimentation or observation. It should be possible to prove it false (principle of falsifiability).
  • Clear & concise language . A strong hypothesis is concise (typically one to two sentences long), and formulated using clear and straightforward language, ensuring it’s easily understood and testable.

Consider a hypothesis many teachers might subscribe to: students work better on Monday morning than on Friday afternoon (IV=Day, DV= Standard of work).

Now, if we decide to study this by giving the same group of students a lesson on a Monday morning and a Friday afternoon and then measuring their immediate recall of the material covered in each session, we would end up with the following:

  • The alternative hypothesis states that students will recall significantly more information on a Monday morning than on a Friday afternoon.
  • The null hypothesis states that there will be no significant difference in the amount recalled on a Monday morning compared to a Friday afternoon. Any difference will be due to chance or confounding factors.

More Examples

  • Memory : Participants exposed to classical music during study sessions will recall more items from a list than those who studied in silence.
  • Social Psychology : Individuals who frequently engage in social media use will report higher levels of perceived social isolation compared to those who use it infrequently.
  • Developmental Psychology : Children who engage in regular imaginative play have better problem-solving skills than those who don’t.
  • Clinical Psychology : Cognitive-behavioral therapy will be more effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety over a 6-month period compared to traditional talk therapy.
  • Cognitive Psychology : Individuals who multitask between various electronic devices will have shorter attention spans on focused tasks than those who single-task.
  • Health Psychology : Patients who practice mindfulness meditation will experience lower levels of chronic pain compared to those who don’t meditate.
  • Organizational Psychology : Employees in open-plan offices will report higher levels of stress than those in private offices.
  • Behavioral Psychology : Rats rewarded with food after pressing a lever will press it more frequently than rats who receive no reward.

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1.2: The 7-Step Process of Statistical Hypothesis Testing

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  • Penn State's Department of Statistics
  • The Pennsylvania State University

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We will cover the seven steps one by one.

Step 1: State the Null Hypothesis

The null hypothesis can be thought of as the opposite of the "guess" the researchers made: in this example, the biologist thinks the plant height will be different for the fertilizers. So the null would be that there will be no difference among the groups of plants. Specifically, in more statistical language the null for an ANOVA is that the means are the same. We state the null hypothesis as: \[H_{0}: \ \mu_{1} = \mu_{2} = \ldots = \mu_{T}\] for \(T\) levels of an experimental treatment.

Why do we do this? Why not simply test the working hypothesis directly? The answer lies in the Popperian Principle of Falsification. Karl Popper (a philosopher) discovered that we can't conclusively confirm a hypothesis, but we can conclusively negate one. So we set up a null hypothesis which is effectively the opposite of the working hypothesis. The hope is that based on the strength of the data, we will be able to negate or reject the null hypothesis and accept an alternative hypothesis. In other words, we usually see the working hypothesis in \(H_{A}\).

Step 2: State the Alternative Hypothesis

\[H_{A}: \ \text{treatment level means not all equal}\]

The reason we state the alternative hypothesis this way is that if the null is rejected, there are many possibilities.

For example, \(\mu_{1} \neq \mu_{2} = \ldots = \mu_{T}\) is one possibility, as is \(\mu_{1} = \mu_{2} \neq \mu_{3} = \ldots = \mu_{T}\). Many people make the mistake of stating the alternative hypothesis as \(mu_{1} \neq mu_{2} \neq \ldots \neq \mu_{T}\), which says that every mean differs from every other mean. This is a possibility, but only one of many possibilities. To cover all alternative outcomes, we resort to a verbal statement of "not all equal" and then follow up with mean comparisons to find out where differences among means exist. In our example, this means that fertilizer 1 may result in plants that are really tall, but fertilizers 2, 3, and the plants with no fertilizers don't differ from one another. A simpler way of thinking about this is that at least one mean is different from all others.

Step 3: Set \(\alpha\)

If we look at what can happen in a hypothesis test, we can construct the following contingency table:

You should be familiar with type I and type II errors from your introductory course. It is important to note that we want to set \(\alpha\) before the experiment ( a priori ) because the Type I error is the more grievous error to make. The typical value of \(\alpha\) is 0.05, establishing a 95% confidence level. For this course, we will assume \(\alpha\) =0.05, unless stated otherwise.

Step 4: Collect Data

Remember the importance of recognizing whether data is collected through an experimental design or observational study.

Step 5: Calculate a test statistic

For categorical treatment level means, we use an \(F\) statistic, named after R.A. Fisher. We will explore the mechanics of computing the \(F\) statistic beginning in Chapter 2. The \(F\) value we get from the data is labeled \(F_{\text{calculated}}\).

Step 6: Construct Acceptance / Rejection regions

As with all other test statistics, a threshold (critical) value of \(F\) is established. This \(F\) value can be obtained from statistical tables or software and is referred to as \(F_{\text{critical}}\) or \(F_{\alpha}\). As a reminder, this critical value is the minimum value for the test statistic (in this case the F test) for us to be able to reject the null.

The \(F\) distribution, \(F_{\alpha}\), and the location of acceptance and rejection regions are shown in the graph below:

Graph of the F distribution, with the point F_alpha marked on the x-axis. The area under the curve to the left of this point is marked "Accept null", and the area under the curve to the right of this point is marked "Reject null."

Step 7: Based on steps 5 and 6, draw a conclusion about H0

If the \(F_{\text{\calculated}}\) from the data is larger than the \(F_{\alpha}\), then you are in the rejection region and you can reject the null hypothesis with \((1 - \alpha)\) level of confidence.

Note that modern statistical software condenses steps 6 and 7 by providing a \(p\)-value. The \(p\)-value here is the probability of getting an \(F_{\text{calculated}}\) even greater than what you observe assuming the null hypothesis is true. If by chance, the \(F_{\text{calculated}} = F_{\alpha}\), then the \(p\)-value would exactly equal \(\alpha\). With larger \(F_{\text{calculated}}\) values, we move further into the rejection region and the \(p\) - value becomes less than \(\alpha\). So the decision rule is as follows:

If the \(p\) - value obtained from the ANOVA is less than \(\alpha\), then reject \(H_{0}\) and accept \(H_{A}\).

If you are not familiar with this material, we suggest that you review course materials from your basic statistics course.

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How to Write a Great Hypothesis

Hypothesis Definition, Format, Examples, and Tips

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

what is research testing hypothesis

Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.

what is research testing hypothesis

Verywell / Alex Dos Diaz

  • The Scientific Method

Hypothesis Format

Falsifiability of a hypothesis.

  • Operationalization

Hypothesis Types

Hypotheses examples.

  • Collecting Data

A hypothesis is a tentative statement about the relationship between two or more variables. It is a specific, testable prediction about what you expect to happen in a study. It is a preliminary answer to your question that helps guide the research process.

Consider a study designed to examine the relationship between sleep deprivation and test performance. The hypothesis might be: "This study is designed to assess the hypothesis that sleep-deprived people will perform worse on a test than individuals who are not sleep-deprived."

At a Glance

A hypothesis is crucial to scientific research because it offers a clear direction for what the researchers are looking to find. This allows them to design experiments to test their predictions and add to our scientific knowledge about the world. This article explores how a hypothesis is used in psychology research, how to write a good hypothesis, and the different types of hypotheses you might use.

The Hypothesis in the Scientific Method

In the scientific method , whether it involves research in psychology, biology, or some other area, a hypothesis represents what the researchers think will happen in an experiment. The scientific method involves the following steps:

  • Forming a question
  • Performing background research
  • Creating a hypothesis
  • Designing an experiment
  • Collecting data
  • Analyzing the results
  • Drawing conclusions
  • Communicating the results

The hypothesis is a prediction, but it involves more than a guess. Most of the time, the hypothesis begins with a question which is then explored through background research. At this point, researchers then begin to develop a testable hypothesis.

Unless you are creating an exploratory study, your hypothesis should always explain what you  expect  to happen.

In a study exploring the effects of a particular drug, the hypothesis might be that researchers expect the drug to have some type of effect on the symptoms of a specific illness. In psychology, the hypothesis might focus on how a certain aspect of the environment might influence a particular behavior.

Remember, a hypothesis does not have to be correct. While the hypothesis predicts what the researchers expect to see, the goal of the research is to determine whether this guess is right or wrong. When conducting an experiment, researchers might explore numerous factors to determine which ones might contribute to the ultimate outcome.

In many cases, researchers may find that the results of an experiment  do not  support the original hypothesis. When writing up these results, the researchers might suggest other options that should be explored in future studies.

In many cases, researchers might draw a hypothesis from a specific theory or build on previous research. For example, prior research has shown that stress can impact the immune system. So a researcher might hypothesize: "People with high-stress levels will be more likely to contract a common cold after being exposed to the virus than people who have low-stress levels."

In other instances, researchers might look at commonly held beliefs or folk wisdom. "Birds of a feather flock together" is one example of folk adage that a psychologist might try to investigate. The researcher might pose a specific hypothesis that "People tend to select romantic partners who are similar to them in interests and educational level."

Elements of a Good Hypothesis

So how do you write a good hypothesis? When trying to come up with a hypothesis for your research or experiments, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your hypothesis based on your research on a topic?
  • Can your hypothesis be tested?
  • Does your hypothesis include independent and dependent variables?

Before you come up with a specific hypothesis, spend some time doing background research. Once you have completed a literature review, start thinking about potential questions you still have. Pay attention to the discussion section in the  journal articles you read . Many authors will suggest questions that still need to be explored.

How to Formulate a Good Hypothesis

To form a hypothesis, you should take these steps:

  • Collect as many observations about a topic or problem as you can.
  • Evaluate these observations and look for possible causes of the problem.
  • Create a list of possible explanations that you might want to explore.
  • After you have developed some possible hypotheses, think of ways that you could confirm or disprove each hypothesis through experimentation. This is known as falsifiability.

In the scientific method ,  falsifiability is an important part of any valid hypothesis. In order to test a claim scientifically, it must be possible that the claim could be proven false.

Students sometimes confuse the idea of falsifiability with the idea that it means that something is false, which is not the case. What falsifiability means is that  if  something was false, then it is possible to demonstrate that it is false.

One of the hallmarks of pseudoscience is that it makes claims that cannot be refuted or proven false.

The Importance of Operational Definitions

A variable is a factor or element that can be changed and manipulated in ways that are observable and measurable. However, the researcher must also define how the variable will be manipulated and measured in the study.

Operational definitions are specific definitions for all relevant factors in a study. This process helps make vague or ambiguous concepts detailed and measurable.

For example, a researcher might operationally define the variable " test anxiety " as the results of a self-report measure of anxiety experienced during an exam. A "study habits" variable might be defined by the amount of studying that actually occurs as measured by time.

These precise descriptions are important because many things can be measured in various ways. Clearly defining these variables and how they are measured helps ensure that other researchers can replicate your results.

Replicability

One of the basic principles of any type of scientific research is that the results must be replicable.

Replication means repeating an experiment in the same way to produce the same results. By clearly detailing the specifics of how the variables were measured and manipulated, other researchers can better understand the results and repeat the study if needed.

Some variables are more difficult than others to define. For example, how would you operationally define a variable such as aggression ? For obvious ethical reasons, researchers cannot create a situation in which a person behaves aggressively toward others.

To measure this variable, the researcher must devise a measurement that assesses aggressive behavior without harming others. The researcher might utilize a simulated task to measure aggressiveness in this situation.

Hypothesis Checklist

  • Does your hypothesis focus on something that you can actually test?
  • Does your hypothesis include both an independent and dependent variable?
  • Can you manipulate the variables?
  • Can your hypothesis be tested without violating ethical standards?

The hypothesis you use will depend on what you are investigating and hoping to find. Some of the main types of hypotheses that you might use include:

  • Simple hypothesis : This type of hypothesis suggests there is a relationship between one independent variable and one dependent variable.
  • Complex hypothesis : This type suggests a relationship between three or more variables, such as two independent and dependent variables.
  • Null hypothesis : This hypothesis suggests no relationship exists between two or more variables.
  • Alternative hypothesis : This hypothesis states the opposite of the null hypothesis.
  • Statistical hypothesis : This hypothesis uses statistical analysis to evaluate a representative population sample and then generalizes the findings to the larger group.
  • Logical hypothesis : This hypothesis assumes a relationship between variables without collecting data or evidence.

A hypothesis often follows a basic format of "If {this happens} then {this will happen}." One way to structure your hypothesis is to describe what will happen to the  dependent variable  if you change the  independent variable .

The basic format might be: "If {these changes are made to a certain independent variable}, then we will observe {a change in a specific dependent variable}."

A few examples of simple hypotheses:

  • "Students who eat breakfast will perform better on a math exam than students who do not eat breakfast."
  • "Students who experience test anxiety before an English exam will get lower scores than students who do not experience test anxiety."​
  • "Motorists who talk on the phone while driving will be more likely to make errors on a driving course than those who do not talk on the phone."
  • "Children who receive a new reading intervention will have higher reading scores than students who do not receive the intervention."

Examples of a complex hypothesis include:

  • "People with high-sugar diets and sedentary activity levels are more likely to develop depression."
  • "Younger people who are regularly exposed to green, outdoor areas have better subjective well-being than older adults who have limited exposure to green spaces."

Examples of a null hypothesis include:

  • "There is no difference in anxiety levels between people who take St. John's wort supplements and those who do not."
  • "There is no difference in scores on a memory recall task between children and adults."
  • "There is no difference in aggression levels between children who play first-person shooter games and those who do not."

Examples of an alternative hypothesis:

  • "People who take St. John's wort supplements will have less anxiety than those who do not."
  • "Adults will perform better on a memory task than children."
  • "Children who play first-person shooter games will show higher levels of aggression than children who do not." 

Collecting Data on Your Hypothesis

Once a researcher has formed a testable hypothesis, the next step is to select a research design and start collecting data. The research method depends largely on exactly what they are studying. There are two basic types of research methods: descriptive research and experimental research.

Descriptive Research Methods

Descriptive research such as  case studies ,  naturalistic observations , and surveys are often used when  conducting an experiment is difficult or impossible. These methods are best used to describe different aspects of a behavior or psychological phenomenon.

Once a researcher has collected data using descriptive methods, a  correlational study  can examine how the variables are related. This research method might be used to investigate a hypothesis that is difficult to test experimentally.

Experimental Research Methods

Experimental methods  are used to demonstrate causal relationships between variables. In an experiment, the researcher systematically manipulates a variable of interest (known as the independent variable) and measures the effect on another variable (known as the dependent variable).

Unlike correlational studies, which can only be used to determine if there is a relationship between two variables, experimental methods can be used to determine the actual nature of the relationship—whether changes in one variable actually  cause  another to change.

The hypothesis is a critical part of any scientific exploration. It represents what researchers expect to find in a study or experiment. In situations where the hypothesis is unsupported by the research, the research still has value. Such research helps us better understand how different aspects of the natural world relate to one another. It also helps us develop new hypotheses that can then be tested in the future.

Thompson WH, Skau S. On the scope of scientific hypotheses .  R Soc Open Sci . 2023;10(8):230607. doi:10.1098/rsos.230607

Taran S, Adhikari NKJ, Fan E. Falsifiability in medicine: what clinicians can learn from Karl Popper [published correction appears in Intensive Care Med. 2021 Jun 17;:].  Intensive Care Med . 2021;47(9):1054-1056. doi:10.1007/s00134-021-06432-z

Eyler AA. Research Methods for Public Health . 1st ed. Springer Publishing Company; 2020. doi:10.1891/9780826182067.0004

Nosek BA, Errington TM. What is replication ?  PLoS Biol . 2020;18(3):e3000691. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.3000691

Aggarwal R, Ranganathan P. Study designs: Part 2 - Descriptive studies .  Perspect Clin Res . 2019;10(1):34-36. doi:10.4103/picr.PICR_154_18

Nevid J. Psychology: Concepts and Applications. Wadworth, 2013.

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

  • Hypothesis Testing: Definition, Uses, Limitations + Examples

busayo.longe

Hypothesis testing is as old as the scientific method and is at the heart of the research process. 

Research exists to validate or disprove assumptions about various phenomena. The process of validation involves testing and it is in this context that we will explore hypothesis testing. 

What is a Hypothesis? 

A hypothesis is a calculated prediction or assumption about a population parameter based on limited evidence. The whole idea behind hypothesis formulation is testing—this means the researcher subjects his or her calculated assumption to a series of evaluations to know whether they are true or false. 

Typically, every research starts with a hypothesis—the investigator makes a claim and experiments to prove that this claim is true or false . For instance, if you predict that students who drink milk before class perform better than those who don’t, then this becomes a hypothesis that can be confirmed or refuted using an experiment.  

Read: What is Empirical Research Study? [Examples & Method]

What are the Types of Hypotheses? 

1. simple hypothesis.

Also known as a basic hypothesis, a simple hypothesis suggests that an independent variable is responsible for a corresponding dependent variable. In other words, an occurrence of the independent variable inevitably leads to an occurrence of the dependent variable. 

Typically, simple hypotheses are considered as generally true, and they establish a causal relationship between two variables. 

Examples of Simple Hypothesis  

  • Drinking soda and other sugary drinks can cause obesity. 
  • Smoking cigarettes daily leads to lung cancer.

2. Complex Hypothesis

A complex hypothesis is also known as a modal. It accounts for the causal relationship between two independent variables and the resulting dependent variables. This means that the combination of the independent variables leads to the occurrence of the dependent variables . 

Examples of Complex Hypotheses  

  • Adults who do not smoke and drink are less likely to develop liver-related conditions.
  • Global warming causes icebergs to melt which in turn causes major changes in weather patterns.

3. Null Hypothesis

As the name suggests, a null hypothesis is formed when a researcher suspects that there’s no relationship between the variables in an observation. In this case, the purpose of the research is to approve or disapprove this assumption. 

Examples of Null Hypothesis

  • This is no significant change in a student’s performance if they drink coffee or tea before classes. 
  • There’s no significant change in the growth of a plant if one uses distilled water only or vitamin-rich water. 
Read: Research Report: Definition, Types + [Writing Guide]

4. Alternative Hypothesis 

To disapprove a null hypothesis, the researcher has to come up with an opposite assumption—this assumption is known as the alternative hypothesis. This means if the null hypothesis says that A is false, the alternative hypothesis assumes that A is true. 

An alternative hypothesis can be directional or non-directional depending on the direction of the difference. A directional alternative hypothesis specifies the direction of the tested relationship, stating that one variable is predicted to be larger or smaller than the null value while a non-directional hypothesis only validates the existence of a difference without stating its direction. 

Examples of Alternative Hypotheses  

  • Starting your day with a cup of tea instead of a cup of coffee can make you more alert in the morning. 
  • The growth of a plant improves significantly when it receives distilled water instead of vitamin-rich water. 

5. Logical Hypothesis

Logical hypotheses are some of the most common types of calculated assumptions in systematic investigations. It is an attempt to use your reasoning to connect different pieces in research and build a theory using little evidence. In this case, the researcher uses any data available to him, to form a plausible assumption that can be tested. 

Examples of Logical Hypothesis

  • Waking up early helps you to have a more productive day. 
  • Beings from Mars would not be able to breathe the air in the atmosphere of the Earth. 

6. Empirical Hypothesis  

After forming a logical hypothesis, the next step is to create an empirical or working hypothesis. At this stage, your logical hypothesis undergoes systematic testing to prove or disprove the assumption. An empirical hypothesis is subject to several variables that can trigger changes and lead to specific outcomes. 

Examples of Empirical Testing 

  • People who eat more fish run faster than people who eat meat.
  • Women taking vitamin E grow hair faster than those taking vitamin K.

7. Statistical Hypothesis

When forming a statistical hypothesis, the researcher examines the portion of a population of interest and makes a calculated assumption based on the data from this sample. A statistical hypothesis is most common with systematic investigations involving a large target audience. Here, it’s impossible to collect responses from every member of the population so you have to depend on data from your sample and extrapolate the results to the wider population. 

Examples of Statistical Hypothesis  

  • 45% of students in Louisiana have middle-income parents. 
  • 80% of the UK’s population gets a divorce because of irreconcilable differences.

What is Hypothesis Testing? 

Hypothesis testing is an assessment method that allows researchers to determine the plausibility of a hypothesis. It involves testing an assumption about a specific population parameter to know whether it’s true or false. These population parameters include variance, standard deviation, and median. 

Typically, hypothesis testing starts with developing a null hypothesis and then performing several tests that support or reject the null hypothesis. The researcher uses test statistics to compare the association or relationship between two or more variables. 

Explore: Research Bias: Definition, Types + Examples

Researchers also use hypothesis testing to calculate the coefficient of variation and determine if the regression relationship and the correlation coefficient are statistically significant.

How Hypothesis Testing Works

The basis of hypothesis testing is to examine and analyze the null hypothesis and alternative hypothesis to know which one is the most plausible assumption. Since both assumptions are mutually exclusive, only one can be true. In other words, the occurrence of a null hypothesis destroys the chances of the alternative coming to life, and vice-versa. 

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What Are The Stages of Hypothesis Testing?  

To successfully confirm or refute an assumption, the researcher goes through five (5) stages of hypothesis testing; 

  • Determine the null hypothesis
  • Specify the alternative hypothesis
  • Set the significance level
  • Calculate the test statistics and corresponding P-value
  • Draw your conclusion
  • Determine the Null Hypothesis

Like we mentioned earlier, hypothesis testing starts with creating a null hypothesis which stands as an assumption that a certain statement is false or implausible. For example, the null hypothesis (H0) could suggest that different subgroups in the research population react to a variable in the same way. 

  • Specify the Alternative Hypothesis

Once you know the variables for the null hypothesis, the next step is to determine the alternative hypothesis. The alternative hypothesis counters the null assumption by suggesting the statement or assertion is true. Depending on the purpose of your research, the alternative hypothesis can be one-sided or two-sided. 

Using the example we established earlier, the alternative hypothesis may argue that the different sub-groups react differently to the same variable based on several internal and external factors. 

  • Set the Significance Level

Many researchers create a 5% allowance for accepting the value of an alternative hypothesis, even if the value is untrue. This means that there is a 0.05 chance that one would go with the value of the alternative hypothesis, despite the truth of the null hypothesis. 

Something to note here is that the smaller the significance level, the greater the burden of proof needed to reject the null hypothesis and support the alternative hypothesis.

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  • Calculate the Test Statistics and Corresponding P-Value 

Test statistics in hypothesis testing allow you to compare different groups between variables while the p-value accounts for the probability of obtaining sample statistics if your null hypothesis is true. In this case, your test statistics can be the mean, median and similar parameters. 

If your p-value is 0.65, for example, then it means that the variable in your hypothesis will happen 65 in100 times by pure chance. Use this formula to determine the p-value for your data: 

what is research testing hypothesis

  • Draw Your Conclusions

After conducting a series of tests, you should be able to agree or refute the hypothesis based on feedback and insights from your sample data.  

Applications of Hypothesis Testing in Research

Hypothesis testing isn’t only confined to numbers and calculations; it also has several real-life applications in business, manufacturing, advertising, and medicine. 

In a factory or other manufacturing plants, hypothesis testing is an important part of quality and production control before the final products are approved and sent out to the consumer. 

During ideation and strategy development, C-level executives use hypothesis testing to evaluate their theories and assumptions before any form of implementation. For example, they could leverage hypothesis testing to determine whether or not some new advertising campaign, marketing technique, etc. causes increased sales. 

In addition, hypothesis testing is used during clinical trials to prove the efficacy of a drug or new medical method before its approval for widespread human usage. 

What is an Example of Hypothesis Testing?

An employer claims that her workers are of above-average intelligence. She takes a random sample of 20 of them and gets the following results: 

Mean IQ Scores: 110

Standard Deviation: 15 

Mean Population IQ: 100

Step 1: Using the value of the mean population IQ, we establish the null hypothesis as 100.

Step 2: State that the alternative hypothesis is greater than 100.

Step 3: State the alpha level as 0.05 or 5% 

Step 4: Find the rejection region area (given by your alpha level above) from the z-table. An area of .05 is equal to a z-score of 1.645.

Step 5: Calculate the test statistics using this formula

what is research testing hypothesis

Z = (110–100) ÷ (15÷√20) 

10 ÷ 3.35 = 2.99 

If the value of the test statistics is higher than the value of the rejection region, then you should reject the null hypothesis. If it is less, then you cannot reject the null. 

In this case, 2.99 > 1.645 so we reject the null. 

Importance/Benefits of Hypothesis Testing 

The most significant benefit of hypothesis testing is it allows you to evaluate the strength of your claim or assumption before implementing it in your data set. Also, hypothesis testing is the only valid method to prove that something “is or is not”. Other benefits include: 

  • Hypothesis testing provides a reliable framework for making any data decisions for your population of interest. 
  • It helps the researcher to successfully extrapolate data from the sample to the larger population. 
  • Hypothesis testing allows the researcher to determine whether the data from the sample is statistically significant. 
  • Hypothesis testing is one of the most important processes for measuring the validity and reliability of outcomes in any systematic investigation. 
  • It helps to provide links to the underlying theory and specific research questions.

Criticism and Limitations of Hypothesis Testing

Several limitations of hypothesis testing can affect the quality of data you get from this process. Some of these limitations include: 

  • The interpretation of a p-value for observation depends on the stopping rule and definition of multiple comparisons. This makes it difficult to calculate since the stopping rule is subject to numerous interpretations, plus “multiple comparisons” are unavoidably ambiguous. 
  • Conceptual issues often arise in hypothesis testing, especially if the researcher merges Fisher and Neyman-Pearson’s methods which are conceptually distinct. 
  • In an attempt to focus on the statistical significance of the data, the researcher might ignore the estimation and confirmation by repeated experiments.
  • Hypothesis testing can trigger publication bias, especially when it requires statistical significance as a criterion for publication.
  • When used to detect whether a difference exists between groups, hypothesis testing can trigger absurd assumptions that affect the reliability of your observation.

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Home » What is a Hypothesis – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

What is a Hypothesis – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

What is a Hypothesis

Definition:

Hypothesis is an educated guess or proposed explanation for a phenomenon, based on some initial observations or data. It is a tentative statement that can be tested and potentially proven or disproven through further investigation and experimentation.

Hypothesis is often used in scientific research to guide the design of experiments and the collection and analysis of data. It is an essential element of the scientific method, as it allows researchers to make predictions about the outcome of their experiments and to test those predictions to determine their accuracy.

Types of Hypothesis

Types of Hypothesis are as follows:

Research Hypothesis

A research hypothesis is a statement that predicts a relationship between variables. It is usually formulated as a specific statement that can be tested through research, and it is often used in scientific research to guide the design of experiments.

Null Hypothesis

The null hypothesis is a statement that assumes there is no significant difference or relationship between variables. It is often used as a starting point for testing the research hypothesis, and if the results of the study reject the null hypothesis, it suggests that there is a significant difference or relationship between variables.

Alternative Hypothesis

An alternative hypothesis is a statement that assumes there is a significant difference or relationship between variables. It is often used as an alternative to the null hypothesis and is tested against the null hypothesis to determine which statement is more accurate.

Directional Hypothesis

A directional hypothesis is a statement that predicts the direction of the relationship between variables. For example, a researcher might predict that increasing the amount of exercise will result in a decrease in body weight.

Non-directional Hypothesis

A non-directional hypothesis is a statement that predicts the relationship between variables but does not specify the direction. For example, a researcher might predict that there is a relationship between the amount of exercise and body weight, but they do not specify whether increasing or decreasing exercise will affect body weight.

Statistical Hypothesis

A statistical hypothesis is a statement that assumes a particular statistical model or distribution for the data. It is often used in statistical analysis to test the significance of a particular result.

Composite Hypothesis

A composite hypothesis is a statement that assumes more than one condition or outcome. It can be divided into several sub-hypotheses, each of which represents a different possible outcome.

Empirical Hypothesis

An empirical hypothesis is a statement that is based on observed phenomena or data. It is often used in scientific research to develop theories or models that explain the observed phenomena.

Simple Hypothesis

A simple hypothesis is a statement that assumes only one outcome or condition. It is often used in scientific research to test a single variable or factor.

Complex Hypothesis

A complex hypothesis is a statement that assumes multiple outcomes or conditions. It is often used in scientific research to test the effects of multiple variables or factors on a particular outcome.

Applications of Hypothesis

Hypotheses are used in various fields to guide research and make predictions about the outcomes of experiments or observations. Here are some examples of how hypotheses are applied in different fields:

  • Science : In scientific research, hypotheses are used to test the validity of theories and models that explain natural phenomena. For example, a hypothesis might be formulated to test the effects of a particular variable on a natural system, such as the effects of climate change on an ecosystem.
  • Medicine : In medical research, hypotheses are used to test the effectiveness of treatments and therapies for specific conditions. For example, a hypothesis might be formulated to test the effects of a new drug on a particular disease.
  • Psychology : In psychology, hypotheses are used to test theories and models of human behavior and cognition. For example, a hypothesis might be formulated to test the effects of a particular stimulus on the brain or behavior.
  • Sociology : In sociology, hypotheses are used to test theories and models of social phenomena, such as the effects of social structures or institutions on human behavior. For example, a hypothesis might be formulated to test the effects of income inequality on crime rates.
  • Business : In business research, hypotheses are used to test the validity of theories and models that explain business phenomena, such as consumer behavior or market trends. For example, a hypothesis might be formulated to test the effects of a new marketing campaign on consumer buying behavior.
  • Engineering : In engineering, hypotheses are used to test the effectiveness of new technologies or designs. For example, a hypothesis might be formulated to test the efficiency of a new solar panel design.

How to write a Hypothesis

Here are the steps to follow when writing a hypothesis:

Identify the Research Question

The first step is to identify the research question that you want to answer through your study. This question should be clear, specific, and focused. It should be something that can be investigated empirically and that has some relevance or significance in the field.

Conduct a Literature Review

Before writing your hypothesis, it’s essential to conduct a thorough literature review to understand what is already known about the topic. This will help you to identify the research gap and formulate a hypothesis that builds on existing knowledge.

Determine the Variables

The next step is to identify the variables involved in the research question. A variable is any characteristic or factor that can vary or change. There are two types of variables: independent and dependent. The independent variable is the one that is manipulated or changed by the researcher, while the dependent variable is the one that is measured or observed as a result of the independent variable.

Formulate the Hypothesis

Based on the research question and the variables involved, you can now formulate your hypothesis. A hypothesis should be a clear and concise statement that predicts the relationship between the variables. It should be testable through empirical research and based on existing theory or evidence.

Write the Null Hypothesis

The null hypothesis is the opposite of the alternative hypothesis, which is the hypothesis that you are testing. The null hypothesis states that there is no significant difference or relationship between the variables. It is important to write the null hypothesis because it allows you to compare your results with what would be expected by chance.

Refine the Hypothesis

After formulating the hypothesis, it’s important to refine it and make it more precise. This may involve clarifying the variables, specifying the direction of the relationship, or making the hypothesis more testable.

Examples of Hypothesis

Here are a few examples of hypotheses in different fields:

  • Psychology : “Increased exposure to violent video games leads to increased aggressive behavior in adolescents.”
  • Biology : “Higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will lead to increased plant growth.”
  • Sociology : “Individuals who grow up in households with higher socioeconomic status will have higher levels of education and income as adults.”
  • Education : “Implementing a new teaching method will result in higher student achievement scores.”
  • Marketing : “Customers who receive a personalized email will be more likely to make a purchase than those who receive a generic email.”
  • Physics : “An increase in temperature will cause an increase in the volume of a gas, assuming all other variables remain constant.”
  • Medicine : “Consuming a diet high in saturated fats will increase the risk of developing heart disease.”

Purpose of Hypothesis

The purpose of a hypothesis is to provide a testable explanation for an observed phenomenon or a prediction of a future outcome based on existing knowledge or theories. A hypothesis is an essential part of the scientific method and helps to guide the research process by providing a clear focus for investigation. It enables scientists to design experiments or studies to gather evidence and data that can support or refute the proposed explanation or prediction.

The formulation of a hypothesis is based on existing knowledge, observations, and theories, and it should be specific, testable, and falsifiable. A specific hypothesis helps to define the research question, which is important in the research process as it guides the selection of an appropriate research design and methodology. Testability of the hypothesis means that it can be proven or disproven through empirical data collection and analysis. Falsifiability means that the hypothesis should be formulated in such a way that it can be proven wrong if it is incorrect.

In addition to guiding the research process, the testing of hypotheses can lead to new discoveries and advancements in scientific knowledge. When a hypothesis is supported by the data, it can be used to develop new theories or models to explain the observed phenomenon. When a hypothesis is not supported by the data, it can help to refine existing theories or prompt the development of new hypotheses to explain the phenomenon.

When to use Hypothesis

Here are some common situations in which hypotheses are used:

  • In scientific research , hypotheses are used to guide the design of experiments and to help researchers make predictions about the outcomes of those experiments.
  • In social science research , hypotheses are used to test theories about human behavior, social relationships, and other phenomena.
  • I n business , hypotheses can be used to guide decisions about marketing, product development, and other areas. For example, a hypothesis might be that a new product will sell well in a particular market, and this hypothesis can be tested through market research.

Characteristics of Hypothesis

Here are some common characteristics of a hypothesis:

  • Testable : A hypothesis must be able to be tested through observation or experimentation. This means that it must be possible to collect data that will either support or refute the hypothesis.
  • Falsifiable : A hypothesis must be able to be proven false if it is not supported by the data. If a hypothesis cannot be falsified, then it is not a scientific hypothesis.
  • Clear and concise : A hypothesis should be stated in a clear and concise manner so that it can be easily understood and tested.
  • Based on existing knowledge : A hypothesis should be based on existing knowledge and research in the field. It should not be based on personal beliefs or opinions.
  • Specific : A hypothesis should be specific in terms of the variables being tested and the predicted outcome. This will help to ensure that the research is focused and well-designed.
  • Tentative: A hypothesis is a tentative statement or assumption that requires further testing and evidence to be confirmed or refuted. It is not a final conclusion or assertion.
  • Relevant : A hypothesis should be relevant to the research question or problem being studied. It should address a gap in knowledge or provide a new perspective on the issue.

Advantages of Hypothesis

Hypotheses have several advantages in scientific research and experimentation:

  • Guides research: A hypothesis provides a clear and specific direction for research. It helps to focus the research question, select appropriate methods and variables, and interpret the results.
  • Predictive powe r: A hypothesis makes predictions about the outcome of research, which can be tested through experimentation. This allows researchers to evaluate the validity of the hypothesis and make new discoveries.
  • Facilitates communication: A hypothesis provides a common language and framework for scientists to communicate with one another about their research. This helps to facilitate the exchange of ideas and promotes collaboration.
  • Efficient use of resources: A hypothesis helps researchers to use their time, resources, and funding efficiently by directing them towards specific research questions and methods that are most likely to yield results.
  • Provides a basis for further research: A hypothesis that is supported by data provides a basis for further research and exploration. It can lead to new hypotheses, theories, and discoveries.
  • Increases objectivity: A hypothesis can help to increase objectivity in research by providing a clear and specific framework for testing and interpreting results. This can reduce bias and increase the reliability of research findings.

Limitations of Hypothesis

Some Limitations of the Hypothesis are as follows:

  • Limited to observable phenomena: Hypotheses are limited to observable phenomena and cannot account for unobservable or intangible factors. This means that some research questions may not be amenable to hypothesis testing.
  • May be inaccurate or incomplete: Hypotheses are based on existing knowledge and research, which may be incomplete or inaccurate. This can lead to flawed hypotheses and erroneous conclusions.
  • May be biased: Hypotheses may be biased by the researcher’s own beliefs, values, or assumptions. This can lead to selective interpretation of data and a lack of objectivity in research.
  • Cannot prove causation: A hypothesis can only show a correlation between variables, but it cannot prove causation. This requires further experimentation and analysis.
  • Limited to specific contexts: Hypotheses are limited to specific contexts and may not be generalizable to other situations or populations. This means that results may not be applicable in other contexts or may require further testing.
  • May be affected by chance : Hypotheses may be affected by chance or random variation, which can obscure or distort the true relationship between variables.

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Lesson 10 of 24 By Avijeet Biswal

A Complete Guide on Hypothesis Testing in Statistics

Table of Contents

In today’s data-driven world , decisions are based on data all the time. Hypothesis plays a crucial role in that process, whether it may be making business decisions, in the health sector, academia, or in quality improvement. Without hypothesis & hypothesis tests, you risk drawing the wrong conclusions and making bad decisions. In this tutorial, you will look at Hypothesis Testing in Statistics.

What Is Hypothesis Testing in Statistics?

Hypothesis Testing is a type of statistical analysis in which you put your assumptions about a population parameter to the test. It is used to estimate the relationship between 2 statistical variables.

Let's discuss few examples of statistical hypothesis from real-life - 

  • A teacher assumes that 60% of his college's students come from lower-middle-class families.
  • A doctor believes that 3D (Diet, Dose, and Discipline) is 90% effective for diabetic patients.

Now that you know about hypothesis testing, look at the two types of hypothesis testing in statistics.

Hypothesis Testing Formula

Z = ( x̅ – μ0 ) / (σ /√n)

  • Here, x̅ is the sample mean,
  • μ0 is the population mean,
  • σ is the standard deviation,
  • n is the sample size.

How Hypothesis Testing Works?

An analyst performs hypothesis testing on a statistical sample to present evidence of the plausibility of the null hypothesis. Measurements and analyses are conducted on a random sample of the population to test a theory. Analysts use a random population sample to test two hypotheses: the null and alternative hypotheses.

The null hypothesis is typically an equality hypothesis between population parameters; for example, a null hypothesis may claim that the population means return equals zero. The alternate hypothesis is essentially the inverse of the null hypothesis (e.g., the population means the return is not equal to zero). As a result, they are mutually exclusive, and only one can be correct. One of the two possibilities, however, will always be correct.

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Null Hypothesis and Alternate Hypothesis

The Null Hypothesis is the assumption that the event will not occur. A null hypothesis has no bearing on the study's outcome unless it is rejected.

H0 is the symbol for it, and it is pronounced H-naught.

The Alternate Hypothesis is the logical opposite of the null hypothesis. The acceptance of the alternative hypothesis follows the rejection of the null hypothesis. H1 is the symbol for it.

Let's understand this with an example.

A sanitizer manufacturer claims that its product kills 95 percent of germs on average. 

To put this company's claim to the test, create a null and alternate hypothesis.

H0 (Null Hypothesis): Average = 95%.

Alternative Hypothesis (H1): The average is less than 95%.

Another straightforward example to understand this concept is determining whether or not a coin is fair and balanced. The null hypothesis states that the probability of a show of heads is equal to the likelihood of a show of tails. In contrast, the alternate theory states that the probability of a show of heads and tails would be very different.

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Hypothesis Testing Calculation With Examples

Let's consider a hypothesis test for the average height of women in the United States. Suppose our null hypothesis is that the average height is 5'4". We gather a sample of 100 women and determine that their average height is 5'5". The standard deviation of population is 2.

To calculate the z-score, we would use the following formula:

z = ( x̅ – μ0 ) / (σ /√n)

z = (5'5" - 5'4") / (2" / √100)

z = 0.5 / (0.045)

 We will reject the null hypothesis as the z-score of 11.11 is very large and conclude that there is evidence to suggest that the average height of women in the US is greater than 5'4".

Steps of Hypothesis Testing

Step 1: specify your null and alternate hypotheses.

It is critical to rephrase your original research hypothesis (the prediction that you wish to study) as a null (Ho) and alternative (Ha) hypothesis so that you can test it quantitatively. Your first hypothesis, which predicts a link between variables, is generally your alternate hypothesis. The null hypothesis predicts no link between the variables of interest.

Step 2: Gather Data

For a statistical test to be legitimate, sampling and data collection must be done in a way that is meant to test your hypothesis. You cannot draw statistical conclusions about the population you are interested in if your data is not representative.

Step 3: Conduct a Statistical Test

Other statistical tests are available, but they all compare within-group variance (how to spread out the data inside a category) against between-group variance (how different the categories are from one another). If the between-group variation is big enough that there is little or no overlap between groups, your statistical test will display a low p-value to represent this. This suggests that the disparities between these groups are unlikely to have occurred by accident. Alternatively, if there is a large within-group variance and a low between-group variance, your statistical test will show a high p-value. Any difference you find across groups is most likely attributable to chance. The variety of variables and the level of measurement of your obtained data will influence your statistical test selection.

Step 4: Determine Rejection Of Your Null Hypothesis

Your statistical test results must determine whether your null hypothesis should be rejected or not. In most circumstances, you will base your judgment on the p-value provided by the statistical test. In most circumstances, your preset level of significance for rejecting the null hypothesis will be 0.05 - that is, when there is less than a 5% likelihood that these data would be seen if the null hypothesis were true. In other circumstances, researchers use a lower level of significance, such as 0.01 (1%). This reduces the possibility of wrongly rejecting the null hypothesis.

Step 5: Present Your Results 

The findings of hypothesis testing will be discussed in the results and discussion portions of your research paper, dissertation, or thesis. You should include a concise overview of the data and a summary of the findings of your statistical test in the results section. You can talk about whether your results confirmed your initial hypothesis or not in the conversation. Rejecting or failing to reject the null hypothesis is a formal term used in hypothesis testing. This is likely a must for your statistics assignments.

Types of Hypothesis Testing

To determine whether a discovery or relationship is statistically significant, hypothesis testing uses a z-test. It usually checks to see if two means are the same (the null hypothesis). Only when the population standard deviation is known and the sample size is 30 data points or more, can a z-test be applied.

A statistical test called a t-test is employed to compare the means of two groups. To determine whether two groups differ or if a procedure or treatment affects the population of interest, it is frequently used in hypothesis testing.

Chi-Square 

You utilize a Chi-square test for hypothesis testing concerning whether your data is as predicted. To determine if the expected and observed results are well-fitted, the Chi-square test analyzes the differences between categorical variables from a random sample. The test's fundamental premise is that the observed values in your data should be compared to the predicted values that would be present if the null hypothesis were true.

Hypothesis Testing and Confidence Intervals

Both confidence intervals and hypothesis tests are inferential techniques that depend on approximating the sample distribution. Data from a sample is used to estimate a population parameter using confidence intervals. Data from a sample is used in hypothesis testing to examine a given hypothesis. We must have a postulated parameter to conduct hypothesis testing.

Bootstrap distributions and randomization distributions are created using comparable simulation techniques. The observed sample statistic is the focal point of a bootstrap distribution, whereas the null hypothesis value is the focal point of a randomization distribution.

A variety of feasible population parameter estimates are included in confidence ranges. In this lesson, we created just two-tailed confidence intervals. There is a direct connection between these two-tail confidence intervals and these two-tail hypothesis tests. The results of a two-tailed hypothesis test and two-tailed confidence intervals typically provide the same results. In other words, a hypothesis test at the 0.05 level will virtually always fail to reject the null hypothesis if the 95% confidence interval contains the predicted value. A hypothesis test at the 0.05 level will nearly certainly reject the null hypothesis if the 95% confidence interval does not include the hypothesized parameter.

Simple and Composite Hypothesis Testing

Depending on the population distribution, you can classify the statistical hypothesis into two types.

Simple Hypothesis: A simple hypothesis specifies an exact value for the parameter.

Composite Hypothesis: A composite hypothesis specifies a range of values.

A company is claiming that their average sales for this quarter are 1000 units. This is an example of a simple hypothesis.

Suppose the company claims that the sales are in the range of 900 to 1000 units. Then this is a case of a composite hypothesis.

One-Tailed and Two-Tailed Hypothesis Testing

The One-Tailed test, also called a directional test, considers a critical region of data that would result in the null hypothesis being rejected if the test sample falls into it, inevitably meaning the acceptance of the alternate hypothesis.

In a one-tailed test, the critical distribution area is one-sided, meaning the test sample is either greater or lesser than a specific value.

In two tails, the test sample is checked to be greater or less than a range of values in a Two-Tailed test, implying that the critical distribution area is two-sided.

If the sample falls within this range, the alternate hypothesis will be accepted, and the null hypothesis will be rejected.

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Right Tailed Hypothesis Testing

If the larger than (>) sign appears in your hypothesis statement, you are using a right-tailed test, also known as an upper test. Or, to put it another way, the disparity is to the right. For instance, you can contrast the battery life before and after a change in production. Your hypothesis statements can be the following if you want to know if the battery life is longer than the original (let's say 90 hours):

  • The null hypothesis is (H0 <= 90) or less change.
  • A possibility is that battery life has risen (H1) > 90.

The crucial point in this situation is that the alternate hypothesis (H1), not the null hypothesis, decides whether you get a right-tailed test.

Left Tailed Hypothesis Testing

Alternative hypotheses that assert the true value of a parameter is lower than the null hypothesis are tested with a left-tailed test; they are indicated by the asterisk "<".

Suppose H0: mean = 50 and H1: mean not equal to 50

According to the H1, the mean can be greater than or less than 50. This is an example of a Two-tailed test.

In a similar manner, if H0: mean >=50, then H1: mean <50

Here the mean is less than 50. It is called a One-tailed test.

Type 1 and Type 2 Error

A hypothesis test can result in two types of errors.

Type 1 Error: A Type-I error occurs when sample results reject the null hypothesis despite being true.

Type 2 Error: A Type-II error occurs when the null hypothesis is not rejected when it is false, unlike a Type-I error.

Suppose a teacher evaluates the examination paper to decide whether a student passes or fails.

H0: Student has passed

H1: Student has failed

Type I error will be the teacher failing the student [rejects H0] although the student scored the passing marks [H0 was true]. 

Type II error will be the case where the teacher passes the student [do not reject H0] although the student did not score the passing marks [H1 is true].

Level of Significance

The alpha value is a criterion for determining whether a test statistic is statistically significant. In a statistical test, Alpha represents an acceptable probability of a Type I error. Because alpha is a probability, it can be anywhere between 0 and 1. In practice, the most commonly used alpha values are 0.01, 0.05, and 0.1, which represent a 1%, 5%, and 10% chance of a Type I error, respectively (i.e. rejecting the null hypothesis when it is in fact correct).

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A p-value is a metric that expresses the likelihood that an observed difference could have occurred by chance. As the p-value decreases the statistical significance of the observed difference increases. If the p-value is too low, you reject the null hypothesis.

Here you have taken an example in which you are trying to test whether the new advertising campaign has increased the product's sales. The p-value is the likelihood that the null hypothesis, which states that there is no change in the sales due to the new advertising campaign, is true. If the p-value is .30, then there is a 30% chance that there is no increase or decrease in the product's sales.  If the p-value is 0.03, then there is a 3% probability that there is no increase or decrease in the sales value due to the new advertising campaign. As you can see, the lower the p-value, the chances of the alternate hypothesis being true increases, which means that the new advertising campaign causes an increase or decrease in sales.

Why is Hypothesis Testing Important in Research Methodology?

Hypothesis testing is crucial in research methodology for several reasons:

  • Provides evidence-based conclusions: It allows researchers to make objective conclusions based on empirical data, providing evidence to support or refute their research hypotheses.
  • Supports decision-making: It helps make informed decisions, such as accepting or rejecting a new treatment, implementing policy changes, or adopting new practices.
  • Adds rigor and validity: It adds scientific rigor to research using statistical methods to analyze data, ensuring that conclusions are based on sound statistical evidence.
  • Contributes to the advancement of knowledge: By testing hypotheses, researchers contribute to the growth of knowledge in their respective fields by confirming existing theories or discovering new patterns and relationships.

Limitations of Hypothesis Testing

Hypothesis testing has some limitations that researchers should be aware of:

  • It cannot prove or establish the truth: Hypothesis testing provides evidence to support or reject a hypothesis, but it cannot confirm the absolute truth of the research question.
  • Results are sample-specific: Hypothesis testing is based on analyzing a sample from a population, and the conclusions drawn are specific to that particular sample.
  • Possible errors: During hypothesis testing, there is a chance of committing type I error (rejecting a true null hypothesis) or type II error (failing to reject a false null hypothesis).
  • Assumptions and requirements: Different tests have specific assumptions and requirements that must be met to accurately interpret results.

After reading this tutorial, you would have a much better understanding of hypothesis testing, one of the most important concepts in the field of Data Science . The majority of hypotheses are based on speculation about observed behavior, natural phenomena, or established theories.

If you are interested in statistics of data science and skills needed for such a career, you ought to explore Simplilearn’s Post Graduate Program in Data Science.

If you have any questions regarding this ‘Hypothesis Testing In Statistics’ tutorial, do share them in the comment section. Our subject matter expert will respond to your queries. Happy learning!

1. What is hypothesis testing in statistics with example?

Hypothesis testing is a statistical method used to determine if there is enough evidence in a sample data to draw conclusions about a population. It involves formulating two competing hypotheses, the null hypothesis (H0) and the alternative hypothesis (Ha), and then collecting data to assess the evidence. An example: testing if a new drug improves patient recovery (Ha) compared to the standard treatment (H0) based on collected patient data.

2. What is hypothesis testing and its types?

Hypothesis testing is a statistical method used to make inferences about a population based on sample data. It involves formulating two hypotheses: the null hypothesis (H0), which represents the default assumption, and the alternative hypothesis (Ha), which contradicts H0. The goal is to assess the evidence and determine whether there is enough statistical significance to reject the null hypothesis in favor of the alternative hypothesis.

Types of hypothesis testing:

  • One-sample test: Used to compare a sample to a known value or a hypothesized value.
  • Two-sample test: Compares two independent samples to assess if there is a significant difference between their means or distributions.
  • Paired-sample test: Compares two related samples, such as pre-test and post-test data, to evaluate changes within the same subjects over time or under different conditions.
  • Chi-square test: Used to analyze categorical data and determine if there is a significant association between variables.
  • ANOVA (Analysis of Variance): Compares means across multiple groups to check if there is a significant difference between them.

3. What are the steps of hypothesis testing?

The steps of hypothesis testing are as follows:

  • Formulate the hypotheses: State the null hypothesis (H0) and the alternative hypothesis (Ha) based on the research question.
  • Set the significance level: Determine the acceptable level of error (alpha) for making a decision.
  • Collect and analyze data: Gather and process the sample data.
  • Compute test statistic: Calculate the appropriate statistical test to assess the evidence.
  • Make a decision: Compare the test statistic with critical values or p-values and determine whether to reject H0 in favor of Ha or not.
  • Draw conclusions: Interpret the results and communicate the findings in the context of the research question.

4. What are the 2 types of hypothesis testing?

  • One-tailed (or one-sided) test: Tests for the significance of an effect in only one direction, either positive or negative.
  • Two-tailed (or two-sided) test: Tests for the significance of an effect in both directions, allowing for the possibility of a positive or negative effect.

The choice between one-tailed and two-tailed tests depends on the specific research question and the directionality of the expected effect.

5. What are the 3 major types of hypothesis?

The three major types of hypotheses are:

  • Null Hypothesis (H0): Represents the default assumption, stating that there is no significant effect or relationship in the data.
  • Alternative Hypothesis (Ha): Contradicts the null hypothesis and proposes a specific effect or relationship that researchers want to investigate.
  • Nondirectional Hypothesis: An alternative hypothesis that doesn't specify the direction of the effect, leaving it open for both positive and negative possibilities.

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About the author.

Avijeet Biswal

Avijeet is a Senior Research Analyst at Simplilearn. Passionate about Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning, Avijeet is also interested in politics, cricket, and football.

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Formulating Hypotheses for Different Study Designs

Durga prasanna misra.

1 Department of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, India.

Armen Yuri Gasparyan

2 Departments of Rheumatology and Research and Development, Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust (Teaching Trust of the University of Birmingham, UK), Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley, UK.

Olena Zimba

3 Department of Internal Medicine #2, Danylo Halytsky Lviv National Medical University, Lviv, Ukraine.

Marlen Yessirkepov

4 Department of Biology and Biochemistry, South Kazakhstan Medical Academy, Shymkent, Kazakhstan.

Vikas Agarwal

George d. kitas.

5 Centre for Epidemiology versus Arthritis, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.

Generating a testable working hypothesis is the first step towards conducting original research. Such research may prove or disprove the proposed hypothesis. Case reports, case series, online surveys and other observational studies, clinical trials, and narrative reviews help to generate hypotheses. Observational and interventional studies help to test hypotheses. A good hypothesis is usually based on previous evidence-based reports. Hypotheses without evidence-based justification and a priori ideas are not received favourably by the scientific community. Original research to test a hypothesis should be carefully planned to ensure appropriate methodology and adequate statistical power. While hypotheses can challenge conventional thinking and may be controversial, they should not be destructive. A hypothesis should be tested by ethically sound experiments with meaningful ethical and clinical implications. The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has brought into sharp focus numerous hypotheses, some of which were proven (e.g. effectiveness of corticosteroids in those with hypoxia) while others were disproven (e.g. ineffectiveness of hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin).

Graphical Abstract

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DEFINING WORKING AND STANDALONE SCIENTIFIC HYPOTHESES

Science is the systematized description of natural truths and facts. Routine observations of existing life phenomena lead to the creative thinking and generation of ideas about mechanisms of such phenomena and related human interventions. Such ideas presented in a structured format can be viewed as hypotheses. After generating a hypothesis, it is necessary to test it to prove its validity. Thus, hypothesis can be defined as a proposed mechanism of a naturally occurring event or a proposed outcome of an intervention. 1 , 2

Hypothesis testing requires choosing the most appropriate methodology and adequately powering statistically the study to be able to “prove” or “disprove” it within predetermined and widely accepted levels of certainty. This entails sample size calculation that often takes into account previously published observations and pilot studies. 2 , 3 In the era of digitization, hypothesis generation and testing may benefit from the availability of numerous platforms for data dissemination, social networking, and expert validation. Related expert evaluations may reveal strengths and limitations of proposed ideas at early stages of post-publication promotion, preventing the implementation of unsupported controversial points. 4

Thus, hypothesis generation is an important initial step in the research workflow, reflecting accumulating evidence and experts' stance. In this article, we overview the genesis and importance of scientific hypotheses and their relevance in the era of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

DO WE NEED HYPOTHESES FOR ALL STUDY DESIGNS?

Broadly, research can be categorized as primary or secondary. In the context of medicine, primary research may include real-life observations of disease presentations and outcomes. Single case descriptions, which often lead to new ideas and hypotheses, serve as important starting points or justifications for case series and cohort studies. The importance of case descriptions is particularly evident in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic when unique, educational case reports have heralded a new era in clinical medicine. 5

Case series serve similar purpose to single case reports, but are based on a slightly larger quantum of information. Observational studies, including online surveys, describe the existing phenomena at a larger scale, often involving various control groups. Observational studies include variable-scale epidemiological investigations at different time points. Interventional studies detail the results of therapeutic interventions.

Secondary research is based on already published literature and does not directly involve human or animal subjects. Review articles are generated by secondary research. These could be systematic reviews which follow methods akin to primary research but with the unit of study being published papers rather than humans or animals. Systematic reviews have a rigid structure with a mandatory search strategy encompassing multiple databases, systematic screening of search results against pre-defined inclusion and exclusion criteria, critical appraisal of study quality and an optional component of collating results across studies quantitatively to derive summary estimates (meta-analysis). 6 Narrative reviews, on the other hand, have a more flexible structure. Systematic literature searches to minimise bias in selection of articles are highly recommended but not mandatory. 7 Narrative reviews are influenced by the authors' viewpoint who may preferentially analyse selected sets of articles. 8

In relation to primary research, case studies and case series are generally not driven by a working hypothesis. Rather, they serve as a basis to generate a hypothesis. Observational or interventional studies should have a hypothesis for choosing research design and sample size. The results of observational and interventional studies further lead to the generation of new hypotheses, testing of which forms the basis of future studies. Review articles, on the other hand, may not be hypothesis-driven, but form fertile ground to generate future hypotheses for evaluation. Fig. 1 summarizes which type of studies are hypothesis-driven and which lead on to hypothesis generation.

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STANDARDS OF WORKING AND SCIENTIFIC HYPOTHESES

A review of the published literature did not enable the identification of clearly defined standards for working and scientific hypotheses. It is essential to distinguish influential versus not influential hypotheses, evidence-based hypotheses versus a priori statements and ideas, ethical versus unethical, or potentially harmful ideas. The following points are proposed for consideration while generating working and scientific hypotheses. 1 , 2 Table 1 summarizes these points.

Evidence-based data

A scientific hypothesis should have a sound basis on previously published literature as well as the scientist's observations. Randomly generated (a priori) hypotheses are unlikely to be proven. A thorough literature search should form the basis of a hypothesis based on published evidence. 7

Unless a scientific hypothesis can be tested, it can neither be proven nor be disproven. Therefore, a scientific hypothesis should be amenable to testing with the available technologies and the present understanding of science.

Supported by pilot studies

If a hypothesis is based purely on a novel observation by the scientist in question, it should be grounded on some preliminary studies to support it. For example, if a drug that targets a specific cell population is hypothesized to be useful in a particular disease setting, then there must be some preliminary evidence that the specific cell population plays a role in driving that disease process.

Testable by ethical studies

The hypothesis should be testable by experiments that are ethically acceptable. 9 For example, a hypothesis that parachutes reduce mortality from falls from an airplane cannot be tested using a randomized controlled trial. 10 This is because it is obvious that all those jumping from a flying plane without a parachute would likely die. Similarly, the hypothesis that smoking tobacco causes lung cancer cannot be tested by a clinical trial that makes people take up smoking (since there is considerable evidence for the health hazards associated with smoking). Instead, long-term observational studies comparing outcomes in those who smoke and those who do not, as was performed in the landmark epidemiological case control study by Doll and Hill, 11 are more ethical and practical.

Balance between scientific temper and controversy

Novel findings, including novel hypotheses, particularly those that challenge established norms, are bound to face resistance for their wider acceptance. Such resistance is inevitable until the time such findings are proven with appropriate scientific rigor. However, hypotheses that generate controversy are generally unwelcome. For example, at the time the pandemic of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and AIDS was taking foot, there were numerous deniers that refused to believe that HIV caused AIDS. 12 , 13 Similarly, at a time when climate change is causing catastrophic changes to weather patterns worldwide, denial that climate change is occurring and consequent attempts to block climate change are certainly unwelcome. 14 The denialism and misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic, including unfortunate examples of vaccine hesitancy, are more recent examples of controversial hypotheses not backed by science. 15 , 16 An example of a controversial hypothesis that was a revolutionary scientific breakthrough was the hypothesis put forth by Warren and Marshall that Helicobacter pylori causes peptic ulcers. Initially, the hypothesis that a microorganism could cause gastritis and gastric ulcers faced immense resistance. When the scientists that proposed the hypothesis themselves ingested H. pylori to induce gastritis in themselves, only then could they convince the wider world about their hypothesis. Such was the impact of the hypothesis was that Barry Marshall and Robin Warren were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2005 for this discovery. 17 , 18

DISTINGUISHING THE MOST INFLUENTIAL HYPOTHESES

Influential hypotheses are those that have stood the test of time. An archetype of an influential hypothesis is that proposed by Edward Jenner in the eighteenth century that cowpox infection protects against smallpox. While this observation had been reported for nearly a century before this time, it had not been suitably tested and publicised until Jenner conducted his experiments on a young boy by demonstrating protection against smallpox after inoculation with cowpox. 19 These experiments were the basis for widespread smallpox immunization strategies worldwide in the 20th century which resulted in the elimination of smallpox as a human disease today. 20

Other influential hypotheses are those which have been read and cited widely. An example of this is the hygiene hypothesis proposing an inverse relationship between infections in early life and allergies or autoimmunity in adulthood. An analysis reported that this hypothesis had been cited more than 3,000 times on Scopus. 1

LESSONS LEARNED FROM HYPOTHESES AMIDST THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

The COVID-19 pandemic devastated the world like no other in recent memory. During this period, various hypotheses emerged, understandably so considering the public health emergency situation with innumerable deaths and suffering for humanity. Within weeks of the first reports of COVID-19, aberrant immune system activation was identified as a key driver of organ dysfunction and mortality in this disease. 21 Consequently, numerous drugs that suppress the immune system or abrogate the activation of the immune system were hypothesized to have a role in COVID-19. 22 One of the earliest drugs hypothesized to have a benefit was hydroxychloroquine. Hydroxychloroquine was proposed to interfere with Toll-like receptor activation and consequently ameliorate the aberrant immune system activation leading to pathology in COVID-19. 22 The drug was also hypothesized to have a prophylactic role in preventing infection or disease severity in COVID-19. It was also touted as a wonder drug for the disease by many prominent international figures. However, later studies which were well-designed randomized controlled trials failed to demonstrate any benefit of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19. 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 Subsequently, azithromycin 27 , 28 and ivermectin 29 were hypothesized as potential therapies for COVID-19, but were not supported by evidence from randomized controlled trials. The role of vitamin D in preventing disease severity was also proposed, but has not been proven definitively until now. 30 , 31 On the other hand, randomized controlled trials identified the evidence supporting dexamethasone 32 and interleukin-6 pathway blockade with tocilizumab as effective therapies for COVID-19 in specific situations such as at the onset of hypoxia. 33 , 34 Clues towards the apparent effectiveness of various drugs against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in vitro but their ineffectiveness in vivo have recently been identified. Many of these drugs are weak, lipophilic bases and some others induce phospholipidosis which results in apparent in vitro effectiveness due to non-specific off-target effects that are not replicated inside living systems. 35 , 36

Another hypothesis proposed was the association of the routine policy of vaccination with Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) with lower deaths due to COVID-19. This hypothesis emerged in the middle of 2020 when COVID-19 was still taking foot in many parts of the world. 37 , 38 Subsequently, many countries which had lower deaths at that time point went on to have higher numbers of mortality, comparable to other areas of the world. Furthermore, the hypothesis that BCG vaccination reduced COVID-19 mortality was a classic example of ecological fallacy. Associations between population level events (ecological studies; in this case, BCG vaccination and COVID-19 mortality) cannot be directly extrapolated to the individual level. Furthermore, such associations cannot per se be attributed as causal in nature, and can only serve to generate hypotheses that need to be tested at the individual level. 39

IS TRADITIONAL PEER REVIEW EFFICIENT FOR EVALUATION OF WORKING AND SCIENTIFIC HYPOTHESES?

Traditionally, publication after peer review has been considered the gold standard before any new idea finds acceptability amongst the scientific community. Getting a work (including a working or scientific hypothesis) reviewed by experts in the field before experiments are conducted to prove or disprove it helps to refine the idea further as well as improve the experiments planned to test the hypothesis. 40 A route towards this has been the emergence of journals dedicated to publishing hypotheses such as the Central Asian Journal of Medical Hypotheses and Ethics. 41 Another means of publishing hypotheses is through registered research protocols detailing the background, hypothesis, and methodology of a particular study. If such protocols are published after peer review, then the journal commits to publishing the completed study irrespective of whether the study hypothesis is proven or disproven. 42 In the post-pandemic world, online research methods such as online surveys powered via social media channels such as Twitter and Instagram might serve as critical tools to generate as well as to preliminarily test the appropriateness of hypotheses for further evaluation. 43 , 44

Some radical hypotheses might be difficult to publish after traditional peer review. These hypotheses might only be acceptable by the scientific community after they are tested in research studies. Preprints might be a way to disseminate such controversial and ground-breaking hypotheses. 45 However, scientists might prefer to keep their hypotheses confidential for the fear of plagiarism of ideas, avoiding online posting and publishing until they have tested the hypotheses.

SUGGESTIONS ON GENERATING AND PUBLISHING HYPOTHESES

Publication of hypotheses is important, however, a balance is required between scientific temper and controversy. Journal editors and reviewers might keep in mind these specific points, summarized in Table 2 and detailed hereafter, while judging the merit of hypotheses for publication. Keeping in mind the ethical principle of primum non nocere, a hypothesis should be published only if it is testable in a manner that is ethically appropriate. 46 Such hypotheses should be grounded in reality and lend themselves to further testing to either prove or disprove them. It must be considered that subsequent experiments to prove or disprove a hypothesis have an equal chance of failing or succeeding, akin to tossing a coin. A pre-conceived belief that a hypothesis is unlikely to be proven correct should not form the basis of rejection of such a hypothesis for publication. In this context, hypotheses generated after a thorough literature search to identify knowledge gaps or based on concrete clinical observations on a considerable number of patients (as opposed to random observations on a few patients) are more likely to be acceptable for publication by peer-reviewed journals. Also, hypotheses should be considered for publication or rejection based on their implications for science at large rather than whether the subsequent experiments to test them end up with results in favour of or against the original hypothesis.

Hypotheses form an important part of the scientific literature. The COVID-19 pandemic has reiterated the importance and relevance of hypotheses for dealing with public health emergencies and highlighted the need for evidence-based and ethical hypotheses. A good hypothesis is testable in a relevant study design, backed by preliminary evidence, and has positive ethical and clinical implications. General medical journals might consider publishing hypotheses as a specific article type to enable more rapid advancement of science.

Disclosure: The authors have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.

Author Contributions:

  • Data curation: Gasparyan AY, Misra DP, Zimba O, Yessirkepov M, Agarwal V, Kitas GD.
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Hypothesis is a testable statement that explains what is happening or observed. It proposes the relation between the various participating variables. Hypothesis is also called Theory, Thesis, Guess, Assumption, or Suggestion. Hypothesis creates a structure that guides the search for knowledge.

In this article, we will learn what is hypothesis, its characteristics, types, and examples. We will also learn how hypothesis helps in scientific research.

Hypothesis

What is Hypothesis?

A hypothesis is a suggested idea or plan that has little proof, meant to lead to more study. It’s mainly a smart guess or suggested answer to a problem that can be checked through study and trial. In science work, we make guesses called hypotheses to try and figure out what will happen in tests or watching. These are not sure things but rather ideas that can be proved or disproved based on real-life proofs. A good theory is clear and can be tested and found wrong if the proof doesn’t support it.

Hypothesis Meaning

A hypothesis is a proposed statement that is testable and is given for something that happens or observed.
  • It is made using what we already know and have seen, and it’s the basis for scientific research.
  • A clear guess tells us what we think will happen in an experiment or study.
  • It’s a testable clue that can be proven true or wrong with real-life facts and checking it out carefully.
  • It usually looks like a “if-then” rule, showing the expected cause and effect relationship between what’s being studied.

Characteristics of Hypothesis

Here are some key characteristics of a hypothesis:

  • Testable: An idea (hypothesis) should be made so it can be tested and proven true through doing experiments or watching. It should show a clear connection between things.
  • Specific: It needs to be easy and on target, talking about a certain part or connection between things in a study.
  • Falsifiable: A good guess should be able to show it’s wrong. This means there must be a chance for proof or seeing something that goes against the guess.
  • Logical and Rational: It should be based on things we know now or have seen, giving a reasonable reason that fits with what we already know.
  • Predictive: A guess often tells what to expect from an experiment or observation. It gives a guide for what someone might see if the guess is right.
  • Concise: It should be short and clear, showing the suggested link or explanation simply without extra confusion.
  • Grounded in Research: A guess is usually made from before studies, ideas or watching things. It comes from a deep understanding of what is already known in that area.
  • Flexible: A guess helps in the research but it needs to change or fix when new information comes up.
  • Relevant: It should be related to the question or problem being studied, helping to direct what the research is about.
  • Empirical: Hypotheses come from observations and can be tested using methods based on real-world experiences.

Sources of Hypothesis

Hypotheses can come from different places based on what you’re studying and the kind of research. Here are some common sources from which hypotheses may originate:

  • Existing Theories: Often, guesses come from well-known science ideas. These ideas may show connections between things or occurrences that scientists can look into more.
  • Observation and Experience: Watching something happen or having personal experiences can lead to guesses. We notice odd things or repeat events in everyday life and experiments. This can make us think of guesses called hypotheses.
  • Previous Research: Using old studies or discoveries can help come up with new ideas. Scientists might try to expand or question current findings, making guesses that further study old results.
  • Literature Review: Looking at books and research in a subject can help make guesses. Noticing missing parts or mismatches in previous studies might make researchers think up guesses to deal with these spots.
  • Problem Statement or Research Question: Often, ideas come from questions or problems in the study. Making clear what needs to be looked into can help create ideas that tackle certain parts of the issue.
  • Analogies or Comparisons: Making comparisons between similar things or finding connections from related areas can lead to theories. Understanding from other fields could create new guesses in a different situation.
  • Hunches and Speculation: Sometimes, scientists might get a gut feeling or make guesses that help create ideas to test. Though these may not have proof at first, they can be a beginning for looking deeper.
  • Technology and Innovations: New technology or tools might make guesses by letting us look at things that were hard to study before.
  • Personal Interest and Curiosity: People’s curiosity and personal interests in a topic can help create guesses. Scientists could make guesses based on their own likes or love for a subject.

Types of Hypothesis

Here are some common types of hypotheses:

Simple Hypothesis

Complex hypothesis, directional hypothesis.

  • Non-directional Hypothesis

Null Hypothesis (H0)

Alternative hypothesis (h1 or ha), statistical hypothesis, research hypothesis, associative hypothesis, causal hypothesis.

Simple Hypothesis guesses a connection between two things. It says that there is a connection or difference between variables, but it doesn’t tell us which way the relationship goes.
Complex Hypothesis tells us what will happen when more than two things are connected. It looks at how different things interact and may be linked together.
Directional Hypothesis says how one thing is related to another. For example, it guesses that one thing will help or hurt another thing.

Non-Directional Hypothesis

Non-Directional Hypothesis are the one that don’t say how the relationship between things will be. They just say that there is a connection, without telling which way it goes.
Null hypothesis is a statement that says there’s no connection or difference between different things. It implies that any seen impacts are because of luck or random changes in the information.
Alternative Hypothesis is different from the null hypothesis and shows that there’s a big connection or gap between variables. Scientists want to say no to the null hypothesis and choose the alternative one.
Statistical Hypotheis are used in math testing and include making ideas about what groups or bits of them look like. You aim to get information or test certain things using these top-level, common words only.
Research Hypothesis comes from the research question and tells what link is expected between things or factors. It leads the study and chooses where to look more closely.
Associative Hypotheis guesses that there is a link or connection between things without really saying it caused them. It means that when one thing changes, it is connected to another thing changing.
Causal Hypothesis are different from other ideas because they say that one thing causes another. This means there’s a cause and effect relationship between variables involved in the situation. They say that when one thing changes, it directly makes another thing change.

Hypothesis Examples

Following are the examples of hypotheses based on their types:

Simple Hypothesis Example

  • Studying more can help you do better on tests.
  • Getting more sun makes people have higher amounts of vitamin D.

Complex Hypothesis Example

  • How rich you are, how easy it is to get education and healthcare greatly affects the number of years people live.
  • A new medicine’s success relies on the amount used, how old a person is who takes it and their genes.

Directional Hypothesis Example

  • Drinking more sweet drinks is linked to a higher body weight score.
  • Too much stress makes people less productive at work.

Non-directional Hypothesis Example

  • Drinking caffeine can affect how well you sleep.
  • People often like different kinds of music based on their gender.
  • The average test scores of Group A and Group B are not much different.
  • There is no connection between using a certain fertilizer and how much it helps crops grow.

Alternative Hypothesis (Ha)

  • Patients on Diet A have much different cholesterol levels than those following Diet B.
  • Exposure to a certain type of light can change how plants grow compared to normal sunlight.
  • The average smarts score of kids in a certain school area is 100.
  • The usual time it takes to finish a job using Method A is the same as with Method B.
  • Having more kids go to early learning classes helps them do better in school when they get older.
  • Using specific ways of talking affects how much customers get involved in marketing activities.
  • Regular exercise helps to lower the chances of heart disease.
  • Going to school more can help people make more money.
  • Playing violent video games makes teens more likely to act aggressively.
  • Less clean air directly impacts breathing health in city populations.

Functions of Hypothesis

Hypotheses have many important jobs in the process of scientific research. Here are the key functions of hypotheses:

  • Guiding Research: Hypotheses give a clear and exact way for research. They act like guides, showing the predicted connections or results that scientists want to study.
  • Formulating Research Questions: Research questions often create guesses. They assist in changing big questions into particular, checkable things. They guide what the study should be focused on.
  • Setting Clear Objectives: Hypotheses set the goals of a study by saying what connections between variables should be found. They set the targets that scientists try to reach with their studies.
  • Testing Predictions: Theories guess what will happen in experiments or observations. By doing tests in a planned way, scientists can check if what they see matches the guesses made by their ideas.
  • Providing Structure: Theories give structure to the study process by arranging thoughts and ideas. They aid scientists in thinking about connections between things and plan experiments to match.
  • Focusing Investigations: Hypotheses help scientists focus on certain parts of their study question by clearly saying what they expect links or results to be. This focus makes the study work better.
  • Facilitating Communication: Theories help scientists talk to each other effectively. Clearly made guesses help scientists to tell others what they plan, how they will do it and the results expected. This explains things well with colleagues in a wide range of audiences.
  • Generating Testable Statements: A good guess can be checked, which means it can be looked at carefully or tested by doing experiments. This feature makes sure that guesses add to the real information used in science knowledge.
  • Promoting Objectivity: Guesses give a clear reason for study that helps guide the process while reducing personal bias. They motivate scientists to use facts and data as proofs or disprovals for their proposed answers.
  • Driving Scientific Progress: Making, trying out and adjusting ideas is a cycle. Even if a guess is proven right or wrong, the information learned helps to grow knowledge in one specific area.

How Hypothesis help in Scientific Research?

Researchers use hypotheses to put down their thoughts directing how the experiment would take place. Following are the steps that are involved in the scientific method:

  • Initiating Investigations: Hypotheses are the beginning of science research. They come from watching, knowing what’s already known or asking questions. This makes scientists make certain explanations that need to be checked with tests.
  • Formulating Research Questions: Ideas usually come from bigger questions in study. They help scientists make these questions more exact and testable, guiding the study’s main point.
  • Setting Clear Objectives: Hypotheses set the goals of a study by stating what we think will happen between different things. They set the goals that scientists want to reach by doing their studies.
  • Designing Experiments and Studies: Assumptions help plan experiments and watchful studies. They assist scientists in knowing what factors to measure, the techniques they will use and gather data for a proposed reason.
  • Testing Predictions: Ideas guess what will happen in experiments or observations. By checking these guesses carefully, scientists can see if the seen results match up with what was predicted in each hypothesis.
  • Analysis and Interpretation of Data: Hypotheses give us a way to study and make sense of information. Researchers look at what they found and see if it matches the guesses made in their theories. They decide if the proof backs up or disagrees with these suggested reasons why things are happening as expected.
  • Encouraging Objectivity: Hypotheses help make things fair by making sure scientists use facts and information to either agree or disagree with their suggested reasons. They lessen personal preferences by needing proof from experience.
  • Iterative Process: People either agree or disagree with guesses, but they still help the ongoing process of science. Findings from testing ideas make us ask new questions, improve those ideas and do more tests. It keeps going on in the work of science to keep learning things.

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Summary – Hypothesis

A hypothesis is a testable statement serving as an initial explanation for phenomena, based on observations, theories, or existing knowledge. It acts as a guiding light for scientific research, proposing potential relationships between variables that can be empirically tested through experiments and observations. The hypothesis must be specific, testable, falsifiable, and grounded in prior research or observation, laying out a predictive, if-then scenario that details a cause-and-effect relationship. It originates from various sources including existing theories, observations, previous research, and even personal curiosity, leading to different types, such as simple, complex, directional, non-directional, null, and alternative hypotheses, each serving distinct roles in research methodology. The hypothesis not only guides the research process by shaping objectives and designing experiments but also facilitates objective analysis and interpretation of data, ultimately driving scientific progress through a cycle of testing, validation, and refinement.

FAQs on Hypothesis

What is a hypothesis.

A guess is a possible explanation or forecast that can be checked by doing research and experiments.

What are Components of a Hypothesis?

The components of a Hypothesis are Independent Variable, Dependent Variable, Relationship between Variables, Directionality etc.

What makes a Good Hypothesis?

Testability, Falsifiability, Clarity and Precision, Relevance are some parameters that makes a Good Hypothesis

Can a Hypothesis be Proven True?

You cannot prove conclusively that most hypotheses are true because it’s generally impossible to examine all possible cases for exceptions that would disprove them.

How are Hypotheses Tested?

Hypothesis testing is used to assess the plausibility of a hypothesis by using sample data

Can Hypotheses change during Research?

Yes, you can change or improve your ideas based on new information discovered during the research process.

What is the Role of a Hypothesis in Scientific Research?

Hypotheses are used to support scientific research and bring about advancements in knowledge.

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Striving for carbon neutrality and economic prosperity in the top ten emitting countries: Testing N shape Kuznets curve hypothesis

  • Khan, Imran
  • Lei, Hongdou
  • Ji, Xiangbo
  • Sharif, Arshian
  • Elkhrachy, Ismail
  • Khan, Inayat

Environmental deterioration brought on by the top ten greenhouse gas emitters is a critical worldwide issue with far-reaching ramifications for global economic sustainability. The main purpose of this research is to explore the link between economic growth, energy consumption, trade openness, and environmental factors with a focus on achieving carbon neutrality without compromising economic growth in the top ten emitting countries by employing a dynamic STIRPAT modeling technique. The data used in this research was taken from various sources, such as the International Energy Agency and the World Bank. The research found a robust association between energy consumption and economic growth, with a correlation coefficient of 0.87. The results revealed that carbon emissions ( CO 2 ) are positively related to per capita gross domestic product (PGDP), cubic GDP ( G D P 3 ), international tourism arrivals (Tour) and energy consumption (EC), while negatively related to trade openness (TO) and squared GDP ( G D P 2 ) in the top ten emitting countries, confirming the N shaped Kuznets curve hypothesis. Trade liberalization also impacted emissions with a coefficient of 0.65 (p < 0.01). The findings suggest that in order to simultaneously achieve carbon neutrality and continue economic development, it is imperative for the major polluting countries to embrace renewable energy sources and enact environmentally beneficial trade and economic measures.

  • Top emitting countries;
  • Decarbonization;
  • Climate change mitigation;
  • Sustainable development;
  • Technological innovation

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  1. Hypothesis Testing

    Step 5: Present your findings. The results of hypothesis testing will be presented in the results and discussion sections of your research paper, dissertation or thesis.. In the results section you should give a brief summary of the data and a summary of the results of your statistical test (for example, the estimated difference between group means and associated p-value).

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    Hypothesis Testing. Investigators conducting studies need research questions and hypotheses to guide analyses. Starting with broad research questions (RQs), investigators then identify a gap in current clinical practice or research. Any research problem or statement is grounded in a better understanding of relationships between two or more ...

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    Select appropriate methods for testing the hypothesis: Select appropriate research methods, such as experiments, surveys, or observational studies, which will allow you to test your research hypothesis. Remember that creating a research hypothesis is an iterative process, i.e., you might have to revise it based on the data you collect.

  4. An Introduction to Statistics: Understanding Hypothesis Testing and

    HYPOTHESIS TESTING. A clinical trial begins with an assumption or belief, and then proceeds to either prove or disprove this assumption. In statistical terms, this belief or assumption is known as a hypothesis. Counterintuitively, what the researcher believes in (or is trying to prove) is called the "alternate" hypothesis, and the opposite ...

  5. What Is A Research Hypothesis? A Simple Definition

    A research hypothesis (also called a scientific hypothesis) is a statement about the expected outcome of a study (for example, a dissertation or thesis). To constitute a quality hypothesis, the statement needs to have three attributes - specificity, clarity and testability. Let's take a look at these more closely.

  6. Research Hypothesis: Definition, Types, Examples and Quick Tips

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    Hypothesis testing is a crucial procedure to perform when you want to make inferences about a population using a random sample. These inferences include estimating population properties such as the mean, differences between means, proportions, and the relationships between variables. This post provides an overview of statistical hypothesis testing.

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    Hypothesis Testing The research hypothesis. The first step in hypothesis testing is to set a research hypothesis. In Sarah and Mike's study, the aim is to examine the effect that two different teaching methods - providing both lectures and seminar classes (Sarah), and providing lectures by themselves (Mike) - had on the performance of Sarah ...

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    A research hypothesis, in its plural form "hypotheses," is a specific, testable prediction about the anticipated results of a study, established at its outset. It is a key component of the scientific method. Hypotheses connect theory to data and guide the research process towards expanding scientific understanding.

  12. 9.1: Introduction to Hypothesis Testing

    In hypothesis testing, the goal is to see if there is sufficient statistical evidence to reject a presumed null hypothesis in favor of a conjectured alternative hypothesis.The null hypothesis is usually denoted \(H_0\) while the alternative hypothesis is usually denoted \(H_1\). An hypothesis test is a statistical decision; the conclusion will either be to reject the null hypothesis in favor ...

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    Hypothesis-testing (Quantitative hypothesis-testing research) - Quantitative research uses deductive reasoning. - This involves the formation of a hypothesis, collection of data in the investigation of the problem, analysis and use of the data from the investigation, and drawing of conclusions to validate or nullify the hypotheses.

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    Step 1: State the Null Hypothesis. The null hypothesis can be thought of as the opposite of the "guess" the researchers made: in this example, the biologist thinks the plant height will be different for the fertilizers. So the null would be that there will be no difference among the groups of plants. Specifically, in more statistical language ...

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    The curse of hypothesis testing is that we will never know if we are dealing with a True or a False Positive (Negative). All we can do is fill the confusion matrix with probabilities that are acceptable given our application. To be able to do that, we must start from a hypothesis. Step 1. Defining the hypothesis

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    A hypothesis is a tentative statement about the relationship between two or more variables. It is a specific, testable prediction about what you expect to happen in a study. It is a preliminary answer to your question that helps guide the research process. Consider a study designed to examine the relationship between sleep deprivation and test ...

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    Hypothesis testing is as old as the scientific method and is at the heart of the research process. Research exists to validate or disprove assumptions about various phenomena. The process of validation involves testing and it is in this context that we will explore hypothesis testing.

  18. What is a Hypothesis

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    Hypothesis testing is a statistical method used to determine if there is enough evidence in a sample data to draw conclusions about a population. It involves formulating two competing hypotheses, the null hypothesis (H0) and the alternative hypothesis (Ha), and then collecting data to assess the evidence.

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