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How to Write a Great Hypothesis

Hypothesis Format, Examples, and Tips

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

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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.

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Verywell / Alex Dos Diaz

  • The Scientific Method

Hypothesis Format

Falsifiability of a hypothesis, operational definitions, types of hypotheses, hypotheses examples.

  • Collecting Data

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

One hypothesis example would be a study designed to look at the relationship between sleep deprivation and test performance might have a hypothesis that states: "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."

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. It is only at this point that researchers 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 a number of 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 wisdom 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.

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.

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.

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

In order to measure this variable, the researcher must devise a measurement that assesses aggressive behavior without harming other people. In this situation, the researcher might utilize a simulated task to measure aggressiveness.

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 that there is a relationship between one independent variable and one dependent variable.
  • Complex hypothesis : This type of hypothesis suggests a relationship between three or more variables, such as two independent variables and a dependent variable.
  • 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 sample of the population 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."
  • Complex hypothesis: "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."

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:

  • "Children who receive a new reading intervention will have scores different than students who do not receive the intervention."
  • "There will be no difference in scores on a memory recall task between children and adults."

Examples of an alternative hypothesis:

  • "Children who receive a new reading intervention will perform better than students who did not receive the intervention."
  • "Adults will perform better on a memory task than children." 

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 it would be impossible or difficult to  conduct an experiment . 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 then be used to look at how the variables are related. This type of 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.

A Word From Verywell

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.

Some examples of how to write a hypothesis include:

  • "Staying up late will lead to worse test performance the next day."
  • "People who consume one apple each day will visit the doctor fewer times each year."
  • "Breaking study sessions up into three 20-minute sessions will lead to better test results than a single 60-minute study session."

The four parts of a hypothesis are:

  • The research question
  • The independent variable (IV)
  • The dependent variable (DV)
  • The proposed relationship between the IV and DV

Castillo M. The scientific method: a need for something better? . AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2013;34(9):1669-71. doi:10.3174/ajnr.A3401

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."

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  • How to Write a Strong Hypothesis | Guide & Examples

How to Write a Strong Hypothesis | Guide & Examples

Published on 6 May 2022 by Shona McCombes .

A hypothesis is a statement that can be tested by scientific research. If you want to test a relationship between two or more variables, you need to write hypotheses before you start your experiment or data collection.

Table of contents

What is a hypothesis, developing a hypothesis (with example), hypothesis examples, frequently asked questions about writing hypotheses.

A hypothesis states your predictions about what your research will find. It is a tentative answer to your research question that has not yet been tested. For some research projects, you might have to write several hypotheses that address different aspects of your research question.

A hypothesis is not just a guess – it should be based on existing theories and knowledge. It also has to be testable, which means you can support or refute it through scientific research methods (such as experiments, observations, and statistical analysis of data).

Variables in hypotheses

Hypotheses propose a relationship between two or more variables . An independent variable is something the researcher changes or controls. A dependent variable is something the researcher observes and measures.

In this example, the independent variable is exposure to the sun – the assumed cause . The dependent variable is the level of happiness – the assumed effect .

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Step 1: ask a question.

Writing a hypothesis begins with a research question that you want to answer. The question should be focused, specific, and researchable within the constraints of your project.

Step 2: Do some preliminary research

Your initial answer to the question should be based on what is already known about the topic. Look for theories and previous studies to help you form educated assumptions about what your research will find.

At this stage, you might construct a conceptual framework to identify which variables you will study and what you think the relationships are between them. Sometimes, you’ll have to operationalise more complex constructs.

Step 3: Formulate your hypothesis

Now you should have some idea of what you expect to find. Write your initial answer to the question in a clear, concise sentence.

Step 4: Refine your hypothesis

You need to make sure your hypothesis is specific and testable. There are various ways of phrasing a hypothesis, but all the terms you use should have clear definitions, and the hypothesis should contain:

  • The relevant variables
  • The specific group being studied
  • The predicted outcome of the experiment or analysis

Step 5: Phrase your hypothesis in three ways

To identify the variables, you can write a simple prediction in if … then form. The first part of the sentence states the independent variable and the second part states the dependent variable.

In academic research, hypotheses are more commonly phrased in terms of correlations or effects, where you directly state the predicted relationship between variables.

If you are comparing two groups, the hypothesis can state what difference you expect to find between them.

Step 6. Write a null hypothesis

If your research involves statistical hypothesis testing , you will also have to write a null hypothesis. The null hypothesis is the default position that there is no association between the variables. The null hypothesis is written as H 0 , while the alternative hypothesis is H 1 or H a .

Hypothesis testing is a formal procedure for investigating our ideas about the world using statistics. It is used by scientists to test specific predictions, called hypotheses , by calculating how likely it is that a pattern or relationship between variables could have arisen by chance.

A hypothesis is not just a guess. It should be based on existing theories and knowledge. It also has to be testable, which means you can support or refute it through scientific research methods (such as experiments, observations, and statistical analysis of data).

A research hypothesis is your proposed answer to your research question. The research hypothesis usually includes an explanation (‘ x affects y because …’).

A statistical hypothesis, on the other hand, is a mathematical statement about a population parameter. Statistical hypotheses always come in pairs: the null and alternative hypotheses. In a well-designed study , the statistical hypotheses correspond logically to the research hypothesis.

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What Are Examples of a Hypothesis?

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A hypothesis is an explanation for a set of observations. Here are examples of a scientific hypothesis.

Although you could state a scientific hypothesis in various ways, most hypotheses are either "If, then" statements or forms of the null hypothesis . The null hypothesis is sometimes called the "no difference" hypothesis. The null hypothesis is good for experimentation because it's simple to disprove. If you disprove a null hypothesis, that is evidence for a relationship between the variables you are examining.

Examples of Null Hypotheses

  • Hyperactivity is unrelated to eating sugar.
  • All daisies have the same number of petals.
  • The number of pets in a household is unrelated to the number of people living in it.
  • A person's preference for a shirt is unrelated to its color.

Examples of If, Then Hypotheses

  • If you get at least 6 hours of sleep, you will do better on tests than if you get less sleep.
  • If you drop a ball, it will fall toward the ground.
  • If you drink coffee before going to bed, then it will take longer to fall asleep.
  • If you cover a wound with a bandage, then it will heal with less scarring.

Improving a Hypothesis to Make It Testable

You may wish to revise your first hypothesis in order to make it easier to design an experiment to test. For example, let's say you have a bad breakout the morning after eating a lot of greasy food. You may wonder if there is a correlation between eating greasy food and getting pimples. You propose the hypothesis:

Eating greasy food causes pimples.

Next, you need to design an experiment to test this hypothesis. Let's say you decide to eat greasy food every day for a week and record the effect on your face. Then, as a control, you'll avoid greasy food for the next week and see what happens. Now, this is not a good experiment because it does not take into account other factors such as hormone levels, stress, sun exposure, exercise, or any number of other variables that might conceivably affect your skin.

The problem is that you cannot assign cause to your effect . If you eat french fries for a week and suffer a breakout, can you definitely say it was the grease in the food that caused it? Maybe it was the salt. Maybe it was the potato. Maybe it was unrelated to diet. You can't prove your hypothesis. It's much easier to disprove a hypothesis.

So, let's restate the hypothesis to make it easier to evaluate the data:

Getting pimples is unaffected by eating greasy food.

So, if you eat fatty food every day for a week and suffer breakouts and then don't break out the week that you avoid greasy food, you can be pretty sure something is up. Can you disprove the hypothesis? Probably not, since it is so hard to assign cause and effect. However, you can make a strong case that there is some relationship between diet and acne.

If your skin stays clear for the entire test, you may decide to accept your hypothesis . Again, you didn't prove or disprove anything, which is fine

  • Null Hypothesis Definition and Examples
  • What Is a Hypothesis? (Science)
  • What Are the Elements of a Good Hypothesis?
  • Understanding Simple vs Controlled Experiments
  • What Is a Testable Hypothesis?
  • What 'Fail to Reject' Means in a Hypothesis Test
  • Null Hypothesis Examples
  • Scientific Method Vocabulary Terms
  • How To Design a Science Fair Experiment
  • Scientific Hypothesis Examples
  • Six Steps of the Scientific Method
  • An Example of a Hypothesis Test
  • Definition of a Hypothesis
  • Scientific Method Flow Chart
  • Null Hypothesis and Alternative Hypothesis

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General Education

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Think about something strange and unexplainable in your life. Maybe you get a headache right before it rains, or maybe you think your favorite sports team wins when you wear a certain color. If you wanted to see whether these are just coincidences or scientific fact, you would form a hypothesis, then create an experiment to see whether that hypothesis is true or not. 

But what is a hypothesis, anyway? If you’re not sure about what a hypothesis is--or how to test for one!--you’re in the right place. This article will teach you everything you need to know about hypotheses, including: 

  • Defining the term “hypothesis” 
  • Providing hypothesis examples 
  • Giving you tips for how to write your own hypothesis 

So let’s get started!

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What Is a Hypothesis?

Merriam Webster defines a hypothesis as “an assumption or concession made for the sake of argument.” In other words, a hypothesis is an educated guess . Scientists make a reasonable assumption--or a hypothesis--then design an experiment to test whether it’s true or not. Keep in mind that in science, a hypothesis should be testable. You have to be able to design an experiment that tests your hypothesis in order for it to be valid. 

As you could assume from that statement, it’s easy to make a bad hypothesis. But when you’re holding an experiment, it’s even more important that your guesses be good...after all, you’re spending time (and maybe money!) to figure out more about your observation. That’s why we refer to a hypothesis as an educated guess--good hypotheses are based on existing data and research to make them as sound as possible.

Hypotheses are one part of what’s called the scientific method .  Every (good) experiment or study is based in the scientific method. The scientific method gives order and structure to experiments and ensures that interference from scientists or outside influences does not skew the results. It’s important that you understand the concepts of the scientific method before holding your own experiment. Though it may vary among scientists, the scientific method is generally made up of six steps (in order):

  • Observation
  • Asking questions
  • Forming a hypothesis
  • Analyze the data
  • Communicate your results

You’ll notice that the hypothesis comes pretty early on when conducting an experiment. That’s because experiments work best when they’re trying to answer one specific question. And you can’t conduct an experiment until you know what you’re trying to prove!

Independent and Dependent Variables 

After doing your research, you’re ready for another important step in forming your hypothesis: identifying variables. Variables are basically any factor that could influence the outcome of your experiment . Variables have to be measurable and related to the topic being studied.

There are two types of variables:  independent variables and dependent variables. I ndependent variables remain constant . For example, age is an independent variable; it will stay the same, and researchers can look at different ages to see if it has an effect on the dependent variable. 

Speaking of dependent variables... dependent variables are subject to the influence of the independent variable , meaning that they are not constant. Let’s say you want to test whether a person’s age affects how much sleep they need. In that case, the independent variable is age (like we mentioned above), and the dependent variable is how much sleep a person gets. 

Variables will be crucial in writing your hypothesis. You need to be able to identify which variable is which, as both the independent and dependent variables will be written into your hypothesis. For instance, in a study about exercise, the independent variable might be the speed at which the respondents walk for thirty minutes, and the dependent variable would be their heart rate. In your study and in your hypothesis, you’re trying to understand the relationship between the two variables.

Elements of a Good Hypothesis

The best hypotheses start by asking the right questions . For instance, if you’ve observed that the grass is greener when it rains twice a week, you could ask what kind of grass it is, what elevation it’s at, and if the grass across the street responds to rain in the same way. Any of these questions could become the backbone of experiments to test why the grass gets greener when it rains fairly frequently.

As you’re asking more questions about your first observation, make sure you’re also making more observations . If it doesn’t rain for two weeks and the grass still looks green, that’s an important observation that could influence your hypothesis. You'll continue observing all throughout your experiment, but until the hypothesis is finalized, every observation should be noted.

Finally, you should consult secondary research before writing your hypothesis . Secondary research is comprised of results found and published by other people. You can usually find this information online or at your library. Additionally, m ake sure the research you find is credible and related to your topic. If you’re studying the correlation between rain and grass growth, it would help you to research rain patterns over the past twenty years for your county, published by a local agricultural association. You should also research the types of grass common in your area, the type of grass in your lawn, and whether anyone else has conducted experiments about your hypothesis. Also be sure you’re checking the quality of your research . Research done by a middle school student about what minerals can be found in rainwater would be less useful than an article published by a local university.

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Writing Your Hypothesis

Once you’ve considered all of the factors above, you’re ready to start writing your hypothesis. Hypotheses usually take a certain form when they’re written out in a research report.

When you boil down your hypothesis statement, you are writing down your best guess and not the question at hand . This means that your statement should be written as if it is fact already, even though you are simply testing it.

The reason for this is that, after you have completed your study, you'll either accept or reject your if-then or your null hypothesis. All hypothesis testing examples should be measurable and able to be confirmed or denied. You cannot confirm a question, only a statement! 

In fact, you come up with hypothesis examples all the time! For instance, when you guess on the outcome of a basketball game, you don’t say, “Will the Miami Heat beat the Boston Celtics?” but instead, “I think the Miami Heat will beat the Boston Celtics.” You state it as if it is already true, even if it turns out you’re wrong. You do the same thing when writing your hypothesis.

Additionally, keep in mind that hypotheses can range from very specific to very broad.  These hypotheses can be specific, but if your hypothesis testing examples involve a broad range of causes and effects, your hypothesis can also be broad.  

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The Two Types of Hypotheses

Now that you understand what goes into a hypothesis, it’s time to look more closely at the two most common types of hypothesis: the if-then hypothesis and the null hypothesis.

#1: If-Then Hypotheses

First of all, if-then hypotheses typically follow this formula:

If ____ happens, then ____ will happen.

The goal of this type of hypothesis is to test the causal relationship between the independent and dependent variable. It’s fairly simple, and each hypothesis can vary in how detailed it can be. We create if-then hypotheses all the time with our daily predictions. Here are some examples of hypotheses that use an if-then structure from daily life: 

  • If I get enough sleep, I’ll be able to get more work done tomorrow.
  • If the bus is on time, I can make it to my friend’s birthday party. 
  • If I study every night this week, I’ll get a better grade on my exam. 

In each of these situations, you’re making a guess on how an independent variable (sleep, time, or studying) will affect a dependent variable (the amount of work you can do, making it to a party on time, or getting better grades). 

You may still be asking, “What is an example of a hypothesis used in scientific research?” Take one of the hypothesis examples from a real-world study on whether using technology before bed affects children’s sleep patterns. The hypothesis read s:

“We hypothesized that increased hours of tablet- and phone-based screen time at bedtime would be inversely correlated with sleep quality and child attention.”

It might not look like it, but this is an if-then statement. The researchers basically said, “If children have more screen usage at bedtime, then their quality of sleep and attention will be worse.” The sleep quality and attention are the dependent variables and the screen usage is the independent variable. (Usually, the independent variable comes after the “if” and the dependent variable comes after the “then,” as it is the independent variable that affects the dependent variable.) This is an excellent example of how flexible hypothesis statements can be, as long as the general idea of “if-then” and the independent and dependent variables are present.

#2: Null Hypotheses

Your if-then hypothesis is not the only one needed to complete a successful experiment, however. You also need a null hypothesis to test it against. In its most basic form, the null hypothesis is the opposite of your if-then hypothesis . When you write your null hypothesis, you are writing a hypothesis that suggests that your guess is not true, and that the independent and dependent variables have no relationship .

One null hypothesis for the cell phone and sleep study from the last section might say: 

“If children have more screen usage at bedtime, their quality of sleep and attention will not be worse.” 

In this case, this is a null hypothesis because it’s asking the opposite of the original thesis! 

Conversely, if your if-then hypothesis suggests that your two variables have no relationship, then your null hypothesis would suggest that there is one. So, pretend that there is a study that is asking the question, “Does the amount of followers on Instagram influence how long people spend on the app?” The independent variable is the amount of followers, and the dependent variable is the time spent. But if you, as the researcher, don’t think there is a relationship between the number of followers and time spent, you might write an if-then hypothesis that reads:

“If people have many followers on Instagram, they will not spend more time on the app than people who have less.”

In this case, the if-then suggests there isn’t a relationship between the variables. In that case, one of the null hypothesis examples might say:

“If people have many followers on Instagram, they will spend more time on the app than people who have less.”

You then test both the if-then and the null hypothesis to gauge if there is a relationship between the variables, and if so, how much of a relationship. 

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4 Tips to Write the Best Hypothesis

If you’re going to take the time to hold an experiment, whether in school or by yourself, you’re also going to want to take the time to make sure your hypothesis is a good one. The best hypotheses have four major elements in common: plausibility, defined concepts, observability, and general explanation.

#1: Plausibility

At first glance, this quality of a hypothesis might seem obvious. When your hypothesis is plausible, that means it’s possible given what we know about science and general common sense. However, improbable hypotheses are more common than you might think. 

Imagine you’re studying weight gain and television watching habits. If you hypothesize that people who watch more than  twenty hours of television a week will gain two hundred pounds or more over the course of a year, this might be improbable (though it’s potentially possible). Consequently, c ommon sense can tell us the results of the study before the study even begins.

Improbable hypotheses generally go against  science, as well. Take this hypothesis example: 

“If a person smokes one cigarette a day, then they will have lungs just as healthy as the average person’s.” 

This hypothesis is obviously untrue, as studies have shown again and again that cigarettes negatively affect lung health. You must be careful that your hypotheses do not reflect your own personal opinion more than they do scientifically-supported findings. This plausibility points to the necessity of research before the hypothesis is written to make sure that your hypothesis has not already been disproven.

#2: Defined Concepts

The more advanced you are in your studies, the more likely that the terms you’re using in your hypothesis are specific to a limited set of knowledge. One of the hypothesis testing examples might include the readability of printed text in newspapers, where you might use words like “kerning” and “x-height.” Unless your readers have a background in graphic design, it’s likely that they won’t know what you mean by these terms. Thus, it’s important to either write what they mean in the hypothesis itself or in the report before the hypothesis.

Here’s what we mean. Which of the following sentences makes more sense to the common person?

If the kerning is greater than average, more words will be read per minute.

If the space between letters is greater than average, more words will be read per minute.

For people reading your report that are not experts in typography, simply adding a few more words will be helpful in clarifying exactly what the experiment is all about. It’s always a good idea to make your research and findings as accessible as possible. 

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Good hypotheses ensure that you can observe the results. 

#3: Observability

In order to measure the truth or falsity of your hypothesis, you must be able to see your variables and the way they interact. For instance, if your hypothesis is that the flight patterns of satellites affect the strength of certain television signals, yet you don’t have a telescope to view the satellites or a television to monitor the signal strength, you cannot properly observe your hypothesis and thus cannot continue your study.

Some variables may seem easy to observe, but if you do not have a system of measurement in place, you cannot observe your hypothesis properly. Here’s an example: if you’re experimenting on the effect of healthy food on overall happiness, but you don’t have a way to monitor and measure what “overall happiness” means, your results will not reflect the truth. Monitoring how often someone smiles for a whole day is not reasonably observable, but having the participants state how happy they feel on a scale of one to ten is more observable. 

In writing your hypothesis, always keep in mind how you'll execute the experiment.

#4: Generalizability 

Perhaps you’d like to study what color your best friend wears the most often by observing and documenting the colors she wears each day of the week. This might be fun information for her and you to know, but beyond you two, there aren’t many people who could benefit from this experiment. When you start an experiment, you should note how generalizable your findings may be if they are confirmed. Generalizability is basically how common a particular phenomenon is to other people’s everyday life.

Let’s say you’re asking a question about the health benefits of eating an apple for one day only, you need to realize that the experiment may be too specific to be helpful. It does not help to explain a phenomenon that many people experience. If you find yourself with too specific of a hypothesis, go back to asking the big question: what is it that you want to know, and what do you think will happen between your two variables?

body-experiment-chemistry

Hypothesis Testing Examples

We know it can be hard to write a good hypothesis unless you’ve seen some good hypothesis examples. We’ve included four hypothesis examples based on some made-up experiments. Use these as templates or launch pads for coming up with your own hypotheses.

Experiment #1: Students Studying Outside (Writing a Hypothesis)

You are a student at PrepScholar University. When you walk around campus, you notice that, when the temperature is above 60 degrees, more students study in the quad. You want to know when your fellow students are more likely to study outside. With this information, how do you make the best hypothesis possible?

You must remember to make additional observations and do secondary research before writing your hypothesis. In doing so, you notice that no one studies outside when it’s 75 degrees and raining, so this should be included in your experiment. Also, studies done on the topic beforehand suggested that students are more likely to study in temperatures less than 85 degrees. With this in mind, you feel confident that you can identify your variables and write your hypotheses:

If-then: “If the temperature in Fahrenheit is less than 60 degrees, significantly fewer students will study outside.”

Null: “If the temperature in Fahrenheit is less than 60 degrees, the same number of students will study outside as when it is more than 60 degrees.”

These hypotheses are plausible, as the temperatures are reasonably within the bounds of what is possible. The number of people in the quad is also easily observable. It is also not a phenomenon specific to only one person or at one time, but instead can explain a phenomenon for a broader group of people.

To complete this experiment, you pick the month of October to observe the quad. Every day (except on the days where it’s raining)from 3 to 4 PM, when most classes have released for the day, you observe how many people are on the quad. You measure how many people come  and how many leave. You also write down the temperature on the hour. 

After writing down all of your observations and putting them on a graph, you find that the most students study on the quad when it is 70 degrees outside, and that the number of students drops a lot once the temperature reaches 60 degrees or below. In this case, your research report would state that you accept or “failed to reject” your first hypothesis with your findings.

Experiment #2: The Cupcake Store (Forming a Simple Experiment)

Let’s say that you work at a bakery. You specialize in cupcakes, and you make only two colors of frosting: yellow and purple. You want to know what kind of customers are more likely to buy what kind of cupcake, so you set up an experiment. Your independent variable is the customer’s gender, and the dependent variable is the color of the frosting. What is an example of a hypothesis that might answer the question of this study?

Here’s what your hypotheses might look like: 

If-then: “If customers’ gender is female, then they will buy more yellow cupcakes than purple cupcakes.”

Null: “If customers’ gender is female, then they will be just as likely to buy purple cupcakes as yellow cupcakes.”

This is a pretty simple experiment! It passes the test of plausibility (there could easily be a difference), defined concepts (there’s nothing complicated about cupcakes!), observability (both color and gender can be easily observed), and general explanation ( this would potentially help you make better business decisions ).

body-bird-feeder

Experiment #3: Backyard Bird Feeders (Integrating Multiple Variables and Rejecting the If-Then Hypothesis)

While watching your backyard bird feeder, you realized that different birds come on the days when you change the types of seeds. You decide that you want to see more cardinals in your backyard, so you decide to see what type of food they like the best and set up an experiment. 

However, one morning, you notice that, while some cardinals are present, blue jays are eating out of your backyard feeder filled with millet. You decide that, of all of the other birds, you would like to see the blue jays the least. This means you'll have more than one variable in your hypothesis. Your new hypotheses might look like this: 

If-then: “If sunflower seeds are placed in the bird feeders, then more cardinals will come than blue jays. If millet is placed in the bird feeders, then more blue jays will come than cardinals.”

Null: “If either sunflower seeds or millet are placed in the bird, equal numbers of cardinals and blue jays will come.”

Through simple observation, you actually find that cardinals come as often as blue jays when sunflower seeds or millet is in the bird feeder. In this case, you would reject your “if-then” hypothesis and “fail to reject” your null hypothesis . You cannot accept your first hypothesis, because it’s clearly not true. Instead you found that there was actually no relation between your different variables. Consequently, you would need to run more experiments with different variables to see if the new variables impact the results.

Experiment #4: In-Class Survey (Including an Alternative Hypothesis)

You’re about to give a speech in one of your classes about the importance of paying attention. You want to take this opportunity to test a hypothesis you’ve had for a while: 

If-then: If students sit in the first two rows of the classroom, then they will listen better than students who do not.

Null: If students sit in the first two rows of the classroom, then they will not listen better or worse than students who do not.

You give your speech and then ask your teacher if you can hand out a short survey to the class. On the survey, you’ve included questions about some of the topics you talked about. When you get back the results, you’re surprised to see that not only do the students in the first two rows not pay better attention, but they also scored worse than students in other parts of the classroom! Here, both your if-then and your null hypotheses are not representative of your findings. What do you do?

This is when you reject both your if-then and null hypotheses and instead create an alternative hypothesis . This type of hypothesis is used in the rare circumstance that neither of your hypotheses is able to capture your findings . Now you can use what you’ve learned to draft new hypotheses and test again! 

Key Takeaways: Hypothesis Writing

The more comfortable you become with writing hypotheses, the better they will become. The structure of hypotheses is flexible and may need to be changed depending on what topic you are studying. The most important thing to remember is the purpose of your hypothesis and the difference between the if-then and the null . From there, in forming your hypothesis, you should constantly be asking questions, making observations, doing secondary research, and considering your variables. After you have written your hypothesis, be sure to edit it so that it is plausible, clearly defined, observable, and helpful in explaining a general phenomenon.

Writing a hypothesis is something that everyone, from elementary school children competing in a science fair to professional scientists in a lab, needs to know how to do. Hypotheses are vital in experiments and in properly executing the scientific method . When done correctly, hypotheses will set up your studies for success and help you to understand the world a little better, one experiment at a time.

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What’s Next?

If you’re studying for the science portion of the ACT, there’s definitely a lot you need to know. We’ve got the tools to help, though! Start by checking out our ultimate study guide for the ACT Science subject test. Once you read through that, be sure to download our recommended ACT Science practice tests , since they’re one of the most foolproof ways to improve your score. (And don’t forget to check out our expert guide book , too.)

If you love science and want to major in a scientific field, you should start preparing in high school . Here are the science classes you should take to set yourself up for success.

If you’re trying to think of science experiments you can do for class (or for a science fair!), here’s a list of 37 awesome science experiments you can do at home

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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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The Craft of Writing a Strong Hypothesis

Deeptanshu D

Table of Contents

Writing a hypothesis is one of the essential elements of a scientific research paper. It needs to be to the point, clearly communicating what your research is trying to accomplish. A blurry, drawn-out, or complexly-structured hypothesis can confuse your readers. Or worse, the editor and peer reviewers.

A captivating hypothesis is not too intricate. This blog will take you through the process so that, by the end of it, you have a better idea of how to convey your research paper's intent in just one sentence.

What is a Hypothesis?

The first step in your scientific endeavor, a hypothesis, is a strong, concise statement that forms the basis of your research. It is not the same as a thesis statement , which is a brief summary of your research paper .

The sole purpose of a hypothesis is to predict your paper's findings, data, and conclusion. It comes from a place of curiosity and intuition . When you write a hypothesis, you're essentially making an educated guess based on scientific prejudices and evidence, which is further proven or disproven through the scientific method.

The reason for undertaking research is to observe a specific phenomenon. A hypothesis, therefore, lays out what the said phenomenon is. And it does so through two variables, an independent and dependent variable.

The independent variable is the cause behind the observation, while the dependent variable is the effect of the cause. A good example of this is “mixing red and blue forms purple.” In this hypothesis, mixing red and blue is the independent variable as you're combining the two colors at your own will. The formation of purple is the dependent variable as, in this case, it is conditional to the independent variable.

Different Types of Hypotheses‌

Types-of-hypotheses

Types of hypotheses

Some would stand by the notion that there are only two types of hypotheses: a Null hypothesis and an Alternative hypothesis. While that may have some truth to it, it would be better to fully distinguish the most common forms as these terms come up so often, which might leave you out of context.

Apart from Null and Alternative, there are Complex, Simple, Directional, Non-Directional, Statistical, and Associative and casual hypotheses. They don't necessarily have to be exclusive, as one hypothesis can tick many boxes, but knowing the distinctions between them will make it easier for you to construct your own.

1. Null hypothesis

A null hypothesis proposes no relationship between two variables. Denoted by H 0 , it is a negative statement like “Attending physiotherapy sessions does not affect athletes' on-field performance.” Here, the author claims physiotherapy sessions have no effect on on-field performances. Even if there is, it's only a coincidence.

2. Alternative hypothesis

Considered to be the opposite of a null hypothesis, an alternative hypothesis is donated as H1 or Ha. It explicitly states that the dependent variable affects the independent variable. A good  alternative hypothesis example is “Attending physiotherapy sessions improves athletes' on-field performance.” or “Water evaporates at 100 °C. ” The alternative hypothesis further branches into directional and non-directional.

  • Directional hypothesis: A hypothesis that states the result would be either positive or negative is called directional hypothesis. It accompanies H1 with either the ‘<' or ‘>' sign.
  • Non-directional hypothesis: A non-directional hypothesis only claims an effect on the dependent variable. It does not clarify whether the result would be positive or negative. The sign for a non-directional hypothesis is ‘≠.'

3. Simple hypothesis

A simple hypothesis is a statement made to reflect the relation between exactly two variables. One independent and one dependent. Consider the example, “Smoking is a prominent cause of lung cancer." The dependent variable, lung cancer, is dependent on the independent variable, smoking.

4. Complex hypothesis

In contrast to a simple hypothesis, a complex hypothesis implies the relationship between multiple independent and dependent variables. For instance, “Individuals who eat more fruits tend to have higher immunity, lesser cholesterol, and high metabolism.” The independent variable is eating more fruits, while the dependent variables are higher immunity, lesser cholesterol, and high metabolism.

5. Associative and casual hypothesis

Associative and casual hypotheses don't exhibit how many variables there will be. They define the relationship between the variables. In an associative hypothesis, changing any one variable, dependent or independent, affects others. In a casual hypothesis, the independent variable directly affects the dependent.

6. Empirical hypothesis

Also referred to as the working hypothesis, an empirical hypothesis claims a theory's validation via experiments and observation. This way, the statement appears justifiable and different from a wild guess.

Say, the hypothesis is “Women who take iron tablets face a lesser risk of anemia than those who take vitamin B12.” This is an example of an empirical hypothesis where the researcher  the statement after assessing a group of women who take iron tablets and charting the findings.

7. Statistical hypothesis

The point of a statistical hypothesis is to test an already existing hypothesis by studying a population sample. Hypothesis like “44% of the Indian population belong in the age group of 22-27.” leverage evidence to prove or disprove a particular statement.

Characteristics of a Good Hypothesis

Writing a hypothesis is essential as it can make or break your research for you. That includes your chances of getting published in a journal. So when you're designing one, keep an eye out for these pointers:

  • A research hypothesis has to be simple yet clear to look justifiable enough.
  • It has to be testable — your research would be rendered pointless if too far-fetched into reality or limited by technology.
  • It has to be precise about the results —what you are trying to do and achieve through it should come out in your hypothesis.
  • A research hypothesis should be self-explanatory, leaving no doubt in the reader's mind.
  • If you are developing a relational hypothesis, you need to include the variables and establish an appropriate relationship among them.
  • A hypothesis must keep and reflect the scope for further investigations and experiments.

Separating a Hypothesis from a Prediction

Outside of academia, hypothesis and prediction are often used interchangeably. In research writing, this is not only confusing but also incorrect. And although a hypothesis and prediction are guesses at their core, there are many differences between them.

A hypothesis is an educated guess or even a testable prediction validated through research. It aims to analyze the gathered evidence and facts to define a relationship between variables and put forth a logical explanation behind the nature of events.

Predictions are assumptions or expected outcomes made without any backing evidence. They are more fictionally inclined regardless of where they originate from.

For this reason, a hypothesis holds much more weight than a prediction. It sticks to the scientific method rather than pure guesswork. "Planets revolve around the Sun." is an example of a hypothesis as it is previous knowledge and observed trends. Additionally, we can test it through the scientific method.

Whereas "COVID-19 will be eradicated by 2030." is a prediction. Even though it results from past trends, we can't prove or disprove it. So, the only way this gets validated is to wait and watch if COVID-19 cases end by 2030.

Finally, How to Write a Hypothesis

Quick-tips-on-how-to-write-a-hypothesis

Quick tips on writing a hypothesis

1.  Be clear about your research question

A hypothesis should instantly address the research question or the problem statement. To do so, you need to ask a question. Understand the constraints of your undertaken research topic and then formulate a simple and topic-centric problem. Only after that can you develop a hypothesis and further test for evidence.

2. Carry out a recce

Once you have your research's foundation laid out, it would be best to conduct preliminary research. Go through previous theories, academic papers, data, and experiments before you start curating your research hypothesis. It will give you an idea of your hypothesis's viability or originality.

Making use of references from relevant research papers helps draft a good research hypothesis. SciSpace Discover offers a repository of over 270 million research papers to browse through and gain a deeper understanding of related studies on a particular topic. Additionally, you can use SciSpace Copilot , your AI research assistant, for reading any lengthy research paper and getting a more summarized context of it. A hypothesis can be formed after evaluating many such summarized research papers. Copilot also offers explanations for theories and equations, explains paper in simplified version, allows you to highlight any text in the paper or clip math equations and tables and provides a deeper, clear understanding of what is being said. This can improve the hypothesis by helping you identify potential research gaps.

3. Create a 3-dimensional hypothesis

Variables are an essential part of any reasonable hypothesis. So, identify your independent and dependent variable(s) and form a correlation between them. The ideal way to do this is to write the hypothetical assumption in the ‘if-then' form. If you use this form, make sure that you state the predefined relationship between the variables.

In another way, you can choose to present your hypothesis as a comparison between two variables. Here, you must specify the difference you expect to observe in the results.

4. Write the first draft

Now that everything is in place, it's time to write your hypothesis. For starters, create the first draft. In this version, write what you expect to find from your research.

Clearly separate your independent and dependent variables and the link between them. Don't fixate on syntax at this stage. The goal is to ensure your hypothesis addresses the issue.

5. Proof your hypothesis

After preparing the first draft of your hypothesis, you need to inspect it thoroughly. It should tick all the boxes, like being concise, straightforward, relevant, and accurate. Your final hypothesis has to be well-structured as well.

Research projects are an exciting and crucial part of being a scholar. And once you have your research question, you need a great hypothesis to begin conducting research. Thus, knowing how to write a hypothesis is very important.

Now that you have a firmer grasp on what a good hypothesis constitutes, the different kinds there are, and what process to follow, you will find it much easier to write your hypothesis, which ultimately helps your research.

Now it's easier than ever to streamline your research workflow with SciSpace Discover . Its integrated, comprehensive end-to-end platform for research allows scholars to easily discover, write and publish their research and fosters collaboration.

It includes everything you need, including a repository of over 270 million research papers across disciplines, SEO-optimized summaries and public profiles to show your expertise and experience.

If you found these tips on writing a research hypothesis useful, head over to our blog on Statistical Hypothesis Testing to learn about the top researchers, papers, and institutions in this domain.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. what is the definition of hypothesis.

According to the Oxford dictionary, a hypothesis is defined as “An idea or explanation of something that is based on a few known facts, but that has not yet been proved to be true or correct”.

2. What is an example of hypothesis?

The hypothesis is a statement that proposes a relationship between two or more variables. An example: "If we increase the number of new users who join our platform by 25%, then we will see an increase in revenue."

3. What is an example of null hypothesis?

A null hypothesis is a statement that there is no relationship between two variables. The null hypothesis is written as H0. The null hypothesis states that there is no effect. For example, if you're studying whether or not a particular type of exercise increases strength, your null hypothesis will be "there is no difference in strength between people who exercise and people who don't."

4. What are the types of research?

• Fundamental research

• Applied research

• Qualitative research

• Quantitative research

• Mixed research

• Exploratory research

• Longitudinal research

• Cross-sectional research

• Field research

• Laboratory research

• Fixed research

• Flexible research

• Action research

• Policy research

• Classification research

• Comparative research

• Causal research

• Inductive research

• Deductive research

5. How to write a hypothesis?

• Your hypothesis should be able to predict the relationship and outcome.

• Avoid wordiness by keeping it simple and brief.

• Your hypothesis should contain observable and testable outcomes.

• Your hypothesis should be relevant to the research question.

6. What are the 2 types of hypothesis?

• Null hypotheses are used to test the claim that "there is no difference between two groups of data".

• Alternative hypotheses test the claim that "there is a difference between two data groups".

7. Difference between research question and research hypothesis?

A research question is a broad, open-ended question you will try to answer through your research. A hypothesis is a statement based on prior research or theory that you expect to be true due to your study. Example - Research question: What are the factors that influence the adoption of the new technology? Research hypothesis: There is a positive relationship between age, education and income level with the adoption of the new technology.

8. What is plural for hypothesis?

The plural of hypothesis is hypotheses. Here's an example of how it would be used in a statement, "Numerous well-considered hypotheses are presented in this part, and they are supported by tables and figures that are well-illustrated."

9. What is the red queen hypothesis?

The red queen hypothesis in evolutionary biology states that species must constantly evolve to avoid extinction because if they don't, they will be outcompeted by other species that are evolving. Leigh Van Valen first proposed it in 1973; since then, it has been tested and substantiated many times.

10. Who is known as the father of null hypothesis?

The father of the null hypothesis is Sir Ronald Fisher. He published a paper in 1925 that introduced the concept of null hypothesis testing, and he was also the first to use the term itself.

11. When to reject null hypothesis?

You need to find a significant difference between your two populations to reject the null hypothesis. You can determine that by running statistical tests such as an independent sample t-test or a dependent sample t-test. You should reject the null hypothesis if the p-value is less than 0.05.

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What is and How to Write a Good Hypothesis in Research?

  • 4 minute read
  • 262.9K views

Table of Contents

One of the most important aspects of conducting research is constructing a strong hypothesis. But what makes a hypothesis in research effective? In this article, we’ll look at the difference between a hypothesis and a research question, as well as the elements of a good hypothesis in research. We’ll also include some examples of effective hypotheses, and what pitfalls to avoid.

What is a Hypothesis in Research?

Simply put, a hypothesis is a research question that also includes the predicted or expected result of the research. Without a hypothesis, there can be no basis for a scientific or research experiment. As such, it is critical that you carefully construct your hypothesis by being deliberate and thorough, even before you set pen to paper. Unless your hypothesis is clearly and carefully constructed, any flaw can have an adverse, and even grave, effect on the quality of your experiment and its subsequent results.

Research Question vs Hypothesis

It’s easy to confuse research questions with hypotheses, and vice versa. While they’re both critical to the Scientific Method, they have very specific differences. Primarily, a research question, just like a hypothesis, is focused and concise. But a hypothesis includes a prediction based on the proposed research, and is designed to forecast the relationship of and between two (or more) variables. Research questions are open-ended, and invite debate and discussion, while hypotheses are closed, e.g. “The relationship between A and B will be C.”

A hypothesis is generally used if your research topic is fairly well established, and you are relatively certain about the relationship between the variables that will be presented in your research. Since a hypothesis is ideally suited for experimental studies, it will, by its very existence, affect the design of your experiment. The research question is typically used for new topics that have not yet been researched extensively. Here, the relationship between different variables is less known. There is no prediction made, but there may be variables explored. The research question can be casual in nature, simply trying to understand if a relationship even exists, descriptive or comparative.

How to Write Hypothesis in Research

Writing an effective hypothesis starts before you even begin to type. Like any task, preparation is key, so you start first by conducting research yourself, and reading all you can about the topic that you plan to research. From there, you’ll gain the knowledge you need to understand where your focus within the topic will lie.

Remember that a hypothesis is a prediction of the relationship that exists between two or more variables. Your job is to write a hypothesis, and design the research, to “prove” whether or not your prediction is correct. A common pitfall is to use judgments that are subjective and inappropriate for the construction of a hypothesis. It’s important to keep the focus and language of your hypothesis objective.

An effective hypothesis in research is clearly and concisely written, and any terms or definitions clarified and defined. Specific language must also be used to avoid any generalities or assumptions.

Use the following points as a checklist to evaluate the effectiveness of your research hypothesis:

  • Predicts the relationship and outcome
  • Simple and concise – avoid wordiness
  • Clear with no ambiguity or assumptions about the readers’ knowledge
  • Observable and testable results
  • Relevant and specific to the research question or problem

Research Hypothesis Example

Perhaps the best way to evaluate whether or not your hypothesis is effective is to compare it to those of your colleagues in the field. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to writing a powerful research hypothesis. As you’re reading and preparing your hypothesis, you’ll also read other hypotheses. These can help guide you on what works, and what doesn’t, when it comes to writing a strong research hypothesis.

Here are a few generic examples to get you started.

Eating an apple each day, after the age of 60, will result in a reduction of frequency of physician visits.

Budget airlines are more likely to receive more customer complaints. A budget airline is defined as an airline that offers lower fares and fewer amenities than a traditional full-service airline. (Note that the term “budget airline” is included in the hypothesis.

Workplaces that offer flexible working hours report higher levels of employee job satisfaction than workplaces with fixed hours.

Each of the above examples are specific, observable and measurable, and the statement of prediction can be verified or shown to be false by utilizing standard experimental practices. It should be noted, however, that often your hypothesis will change as your research progresses.

Language Editing Plus

Elsevier’s Language Editing Plus service can help ensure that your research hypothesis is well-designed, and articulates your research and conclusions. Our most comprehensive editing package, you can count on a thorough language review by native-English speakers who are PhDs or PhD candidates. We’ll check for effective logic and flow of your manuscript, as well as document formatting for your chosen journal, reference checks, and much more.

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Hypothesis Testing | A Step-by-Step Guide with Easy Examples

Published on November 8, 2019 by Rebecca Bevans . Revised on June 22, 2023.

Hypothesis testing is a formal procedure for investigating our ideas about the world using statistics . It is most often used by scientists to test specific predictions, called hypotheses, that arise from theories.

There are 5 main steps in hypothesis testing:

  • State your research hypothesis as a null hypothesis and alternate hypothesis (H o ) and (H a  or H 1 ).
  • Collect data in a way designed to test the hypothesis.
  • Perform an appropriate statistical test .
  • Decide whether to reject or fail to reject your null hypothesis.
  • Present the findings in your results and discussion section.

Though the specific details might vary, the procedure you will use when testing a hypothesis will always follow some version of these steps.

Table of contents

Step 1: state your null and alternate hypothesis, step 2: collect data, step 3: perform a statistical test, step 4: decide whether to reject or fail to reject your null hypothesis, step 5: present your findings, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about hypothesis testing.

After developing your initial research hypothesis (the prediction that you want to investigate), it is important to restate it as a null (H o ) and alternate (H a ) hypothesis so that you can test it mathematically.

The alternate hypothesis is usually your initial hypothesis that predicts a relationship between variables. The null hypothesis is a prediction of no relationship between the variables you are interested in.

  • H 0 : Men are, on average, not taller than women. H a : Men are, on average, taller than women.

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form hypothesis example

For a statistical test to be valid , it is important to perform sampling and collect data in a way that is designed to test your hypothesis. If your data are not representative, then you cannot make statistical inferences about the population you are interested in.

There are a variety of statistical tests available, but they are all based on the comparison of within-group variance (how spread out the data is within a category) versus between-group variance (how different the categories are from one another).

If the between-group variance is large enough that there is little or no overlap between groups, then your statistical test will reflect that by showing a low p -value . This means it is unlikely that the differences between these groups came about by chance.

Alternatively, if there is high within-group variance and low between-group variance, then your statistical test will reflect that with a high p -value. This means it is likely that any difference you measure between groups is due to chance.

Your choice of statistical test will be based on the type of variables and the level of measurement of your collected data .

  • an estimate of the difference in average height between the two groups.
  • a p -value showing how likely you are to see this difference if the null hypothesis of no difference is true.

Based on the outcome of your statistical test, you will have to decide whether to reject or fail to reject your null hypothesis.

In most cases you will use the p -value generated by your statistical test to guide your decision. And in most cases, your predetermined level of significance for rejecting the null hypothesis will be 0.05 – that is, when there is a less than 5% chance that you would see these results if the null hypothesis were true.

In some cases, researchers choose a more conservative level of significance, such as 0.01 (1%). This minimizes the risk of incorrectly rejecting the null hypothesis ( Type I error ).

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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). In the discussion , you can discuss whether your initial hypothesis was supported by your results or not.

In the formal language of hypothesis testing, we talk about rejecting or failing to reject the null hypothesis. You will probably be asked to do this in your statistics assignments.

However, when presenting research results in academic papers we rarely talk this way. Instead, we go back to our alternate hypothesis (in this case, the hypothesis that men are on average taller than women) and state whether the result of our test did or did not support the alternate hypothesis.

If your null hypothesis was rejected, this result is interpreted as “supported the alternate hypothesis.”

These are superficial differences; you can see that they mean the same thing.

You might notice that we don’t say that we reject or fail to reject the alternate hypothesis . This is because hypothesis testing is not designed to prove or disprove anything. It is only designed to test whether a pattern we measure could have arisen spuriously, or by chance.

If we reject the null hypothesis based on our research (i.e., we find that it is unlikely that the pattern arose by chance), then we can say our test lends support to our hypothesis . But if the pattern does not pass our decision rule, meaning that it could have arisen by chance, then we say the test is inconsistent with our hypothesis .

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Normal distribution
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Measures of central tendency
  • Correlation coefficient

Methodology

  • Cluster sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Types of interviews
  • Cohort study
  • Thematic analysis

Research bias

  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Survivorship bias
  • Availability heuristic
  • Nonresponse bias
  • Regression to the mean

Hypothesis testing is a formal procedure for investigating our ideas about the world using statistics. It is used by scientists to test specific predictions, called hypotheses , by calculating how likely it is that a pattern or relationship between variables could have arisen by chance.

A hypothesis states your predictions about what your research will find. It is a tentative answer to your research question that has not yet been tested. For some research projects, you might have to write several hypotheses that address different aspects of your research question.

A hypothesis is not just a guess — it should be based on existing theories and knowledge. It also has to be testable, which means you can support or refute it through scientific research methods (such as experiments, observations and statistical analysis of data).

Null and alternative hypotheses are used in statistical hypothesis testing . The null hypothesis of a test always predicts no effect or no relationship between variables, while the alternative hypothesis states your research prediction of an effect or relationship.

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How to Write a Research Hypothesis: Good & Bad Examples

form hypothesis example

What is a research hypothesis?

A research hypothesis is an attempt at explaining a phenomenon or the relationships between phenomena/variables in the real world. Hypotheses are sometimes called “educated guesses”, but they are in fact (or let’s say they should be) based on previous observations, existing theories, scientific evidence, and logic. A research hypothesis is also not a prediction—rather, predictions are ( should be) based on clearly formulated hypotheses. For example, “We tested the hypothesis that KLF2 knockout mice would show deficiencies in heart development” is an assumption or prediction, not a hypothesis. 

The research hypothesis at the basis of this prediction is “the product of the KLF2 gene is involved in the development of the cardiovascular system in mice”—and this hypothesis is probably (hopefully) based on a clear observation, such as that mice with low levels of Kruppel-like factor 2 (which KLF2 codes for) seem to have heart problems. From this hypothesis, you can derive the idea that a mouse in which this particular gene does not function cannot develop a normal cardiovascular system, and then make the prediction that we started with. 

What is the difference between a hypothesis and a prediction?

You might think that these are very subtle differences, and you will certainly come across many publications that do not contain an actual hypothesis or do not make these distinctions correctly. But considering that the formulation and testing of hypotheses is an integral part of the scientific method, it is good to be aware of the concepts underlying this approach. The two hallmarks of a scientific hypothesis are falsifiability (an evaluation standard that was introduced by the philosopher of science Karl Popper in 1934) and testability —if you cannot use experiments or data to decide whether an idea is true or false, then it is not a hypothesis (or at least a very bad one).

So, in a nutshell, you (1) look at existing evidence/theories, (2) come up with a hypothesis, (3) make a prediction that allows you to (4) design an experiment or data analysis to test it, and (5) come to a conclusion. Of course, not all studies have hypotheses (there is also exploratory or hypothesis-generating research), and you do not necessarily have to state your hypothesis as such in your paper. 

But for the sake of understanding the principles of the scientific method, let’s first take a closer look at the different types of hypotheses that research articles refer to and then give you a step-by-step guide for how to formulate a strong hypothesis for your own paper.

Types of Research Hypotheses

Hypotheses can be simple , which means they describe the relationship between one single independent variable (the one you observe variations in or plan to manipulate) and one single dependent variable (the one you expect to be affected by the variations/manipulation). If there are more variables on either side, you are dealing with a complex hypothesis. You can also distinguish hypotheses according to the kind of relationship between the variables you are interested in (e.g., causal or associative ). But apart from these variations, we are usually interested in what is called the “alternative hypothesis” and, in contrast to that, the “null hypothesis”. If you think these two should be listed the other way round, then you are right, logically speaking—the alternative should surely come second. However, since this is the hypothesis we (as researchers) are usually interested in, let’s start from there.

Alternative Hypothesis

If you predict a relationship between two variables in your study, then the research hypothesis that you formulate to describe that relationship is your alternative hypothesis (usually H1 in statistical terms). The goal of your hypothesis testing is thus to demonstrate that there is sufficient evidence that supports the alternative hypothesis, rather than evidence for the possibility that there is no such relationship. The alternative hypothesis is usually the research hypothesis of a study and is based on the literature, previous observations, and widely known theories. 

Null Hypothesis

The hypothesis that describes the other possible outcome, that is, that your variables are not related, is the null hypothesis ( H0 ). Based on your findings, you choose between the two hypotheses—usually that means that if your prediction was correct, you reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternative. Make sure, however, that you are not getting lost at this step of the thinking process: If your prediction is that there will be no difference or change, then you are trying to find support for the null hypothesis and reject H1. 

Directional Hypothesis

While the null hypothesis is obviously “static”, the alternative hypothesis can specify a direction for the observed relationship between variables—for example, that mice with higher expression levels of a certain protein are more active than those with lower levels. This is then called a one-tailed hypothesis. 

Another example for a directional one-tailed alternative hypothesis would be that 

H1: Attending private classes before important exams has a positive effect on performance. 

Your null hypothesis would then be that

H0: Attending private classes before important exams has no/a negative effect on performance.

Nondirectional Hypothesis

A nondirectional hypothesis does not specify the direction of the potentially observed effect, only that there is a relationship between the studied variables—this is called a two-tailed hypothesis. For instance, if you are studying a new drug that has shown some effects on pathways involved in a certain condition (e.g., anxiety) in vitro in the lab, but you can’t say for sure whether it will have the same effects in an animal model or maybe induce other/side effects that you can’t predict and potentially increase anxiety levels instead, you could state the two hypotheses like this:

H1: The only lab-tested drug (somehow) affects anxiety levels in an anxiety mouse model.

You then test this nondirectional alternative hypothesis against the null hypothesis:

H0: The only lab-tested drug has no effect on anxiety levels in an anxiety mouse model.

hypothesis in a research paper

How to Write a Hypothesis for a Research Paper

Now that we understand the important distinctions between different kinds of research hypotheses, let’s look at a simple process of how to write a hypothesis.

Writing a Hypothesis Step:1

Ask a question, based on earlier research. Research always starts with a question, but one that takes into account what is already known about a topic or phenomenon. For example, if you are interested in whether people who have pets are happier than those who don’t, do a literature search and find out what has already been demonstrated. You will probably realize that yes, there is quite a bit of research that shows a relationship between happiness and owning a pet—and even studies that show that owning a dog is more beneficial than owning a cat ! Let’s say you are so intrigued by this finding that you wonder: 

What is it that makes dog owners even happier than cat owners? 

Let’s move on to Step 2 and find an answer to that question.

Writing a Hypothesis Step 2:

Formulate a strong hypothesis by answering your own question. Again, you don’t want to make things up, take unicorns into account, or repeat/ignore what has already been done. Looking at the dog-vs-cat papers your literature search returned, you see that most studies are based on self-report questionnaires on personality traits, mental health, and life satisfaction. What you don’t find is any data on actual (mental or physical) health measures, and no experiments. You therefore decide to make a bold claim come up with the carefully thought-through hypothesis that it’s maybe the lifestyle of the dog owners, which includes walking their dog several times per day, engaging in fun and healthy activities such as agility competitions, and taking them on trips, that gives them that extra boost in happiness. You could therefore answer your question in the following way:

Dog owners are happier than cat owners because of the dog-related activities they engage in.

Now you have to verify that your hypothesis fulfills the two requirements we introduced at the beginning of this resource article: falsifiability and testability . If it can’t be wrong and can’t be tested, it’s not a hypothesis. We are lucky, however, because yes, we can test whether owning a dog but not engaging in any of those activities leads to lower levels of happiness or well-being than owning a dog and playing and running around with them or taking them on trips.  

Writing a Hypothesis Step 3:

Make your predictions and define your variables. We have verified that we can test our hypothesis, but now we have to define all the relevant variables, design our experiment or data analysis, and make precise predictions. You could, for example, decide to study dog owners (not surprising at this point), let them fill in questionnaires about their lifestyle as well as their life satisfaction (as other studies did), and then compare two groups of active and inactive dog owners. Alternatively, if you want to go beyond the data that earlier studies produced and analyzed and directly manipulate the activity level of your dog owners to study the effect of that manipulation, you could invite them to your lab, select groups of participants with similar lifestyles, make them change their lifestyle (e.g., couch potato dog owners start agility classes, very active ones have to refrain from any fun activities for a certain period of time) and assess their happiness levels before and after the intervention. In both cases, your independent variable would be “ level of engagement in fun activities with dog” and your dependent variable would be happiness or well-being . 

Examples of a Good and Bad Hypothesis

Let’s look at a few examples of good and bad hypotheses to get you started.

Good Hypothesis Examples

Bad hypothesis examples, tips for writing a research hypothesis.

If you understood the distinction between a hypothesis and a prediction we made at the beginning of this article, then you will have no problem formulating your hypotheses and predictions correctly. To refresh your memory: We have to (1) look at existing evidence, (2) come up with a hypothesis, (3) make a prediction, and (4) design an experiment. For example, you could summarize your dog/happiness study like this:

(1) While research suggests that dog owners are happier than cat owners, there are no reports on what factors drive this difference. (2) We hypothesized that it is the fun activities that many dog owners (but very few cat owners) engage in with their pets that increases their happiness levels. (3) We thus predicted that preventing very active dog owners from engaging in such activities for some time and making very inactive dog owners take up such activities would lead to an increase and decrease in their overall self-ratings of happiness, respectively. (4) To test this, we invited dog owners into our lab, assessed their mental and emotional well-being through questionnaires, and then assigned them to an “active” and an “inactive” group, depending on… 

Note that you use “we hypothesize” only for your hypothesis, not for your experimental prediction, and “would” or “if – then” only for your prediction, not your hypothesis. A hypothesis that states that something “would” affect something else sounds as if you don’t have enough confidence to make a clear statement—in which case you can’t expect your readers to believe in your research either. Write in the present tense, don’t use modal verbs that express varying degrees of certainty (such as may, might, or could ), and remember that you are not drawing a conclusion while trying not to exaggerate but making a clear statement that you then, in a way, try to disprove . And if that happens, that is not something to fear but an important part of the scientific process.

Similarly, don’t use “we hypothesize” when you explain the implications of your research or make predictions in the conclusion section of your manuscript, since these are clearly not hypotheses in the true sense of the word. As we said earlier, you will find that many authors of academic articles do not seem to care too much about these rather subtle distinctions, but thinking very clearly about your own research will not only help you write better but also ensure that even that infamous Reviewer 2 will find fewer reasons to nitpick about your manuscript. 

Perfect Your Manuscript With Professional Editing

Now that you know how to write a strong research hypothesis for your research paper, you might be interested in our free AI proofreader , Wordvice AI, which finds and fixes errors in grammar, punctuation, and word choice in academic texts. Or if you are interested in human proofreading , check out our English editing services , including research paper editing and manuscript editing .

On the Wordvice academic resources website , you can also find many more articles and other resources that can help you with writing the other parts of your research paper , with making a research paper outline before you put everything together, or with writing an effective cover letter once you are ready to submit.

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Hypothesis Examples

Hypothesis Examples

A hypothesis is a prediction of the outcome of a test. It forms the basis for designing an experiment in the scientific method . A good hypothesis is testable, meaning it makes a prediction you can check with observation or experimentation. Here are different hypothesis examples.

Null Hypothesis Examples

The null hypothesis (H 0 ) is also known as the zero-difference or no-difference hypothesis. It predicts that changing one variable ( independent variable ) will have no effect on the variable being measured ( dependent variable ). Here are null hypothesis examples:

  • Plant growth is unaffected by temperature.
  • If you increase temperature, then solubility of salt will increase.
  • Incidence of skin cancer is unrelated to ultraviolet light exposure.
  • All brands of light bulb last equally long.
  • Cats have no preference for the color of cat food.
  • All daisies have the same number of petals.

Sometimes the null hypothesis shows there is a suspected correlation between two variables. For example, if you think plant growth is affected by temperature, you state the null hypothesis: “Plant growth is not affected by temperature.” Why do you do this, rather than say “If you change temperature, plant growth will be affected”? The answer is because it’s easier applying a statistical test that shows, with a high level of confidence, a null hypothesis is correct or incorrect.

Research Hypothesis Examples

A research hypothesis (H 1 ) is a type of hypothesis used to design an experiment. This type of hypothesis is often written as an if-then statement because it’s easy identifying the independent and dependent variables and seeing how one affects the other. If-then statements explore cause and effect. In other cases, the hypothesis shows a correlation between two variables. Here are some research hypothesis examples:

  • If you leave the lights on, then it takes longer for people to fall asleep.
  • If you refrigerate apples, they last longer before going bad.
  • If you keep the curtains closed, then you need less electricity to heat or cool the house (the electric bill is lower).
  • If you leave a bucket of water uncovered, then it evaporates more quickly.
  • Goldfish lose their color if they are not exposed to light.
  • Workers who take vacations are more productive than those who never take time off.

Is It Okay to Disprove a Hypothesis?

Yes! You may even choose to write your hypothesis in such a way that it can be disproved because it’s easier to prove a statement is wrong than to prove it is right. In other cases, if your prediction is incorrect, that doesn’t mean the science is bad. Revising a hypothesis is common. It demonstrates you learned something you did not know before you conducted the experiment.

Test yourself with a Scientific Method Quiz .

  • Mellenbergh, G.J. (2008). Chapter 8: Research designs: Testing of research hypotheses. In H.J. Adèr & G.J. Mellenbergh (eds.), Advising on Research Methods: A Consultant’s Companion . Huizen, The Netherlands: Johannes van Kessel Publishing.
  • Popper, Karl R. (1959). The Logic of Scientific Discovery . Hutchinson & Co. ISBN 3-1614-8410-X.
  • Schick, Theodore; Vaughn, Lewis (2002). How to think about weird things: critical thinking for a New Age . Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education. ISBN 0-7674-2048-9.
  • Tobi, Hilde; Kampen, Jarl K. (2018). “Research design: the methodology for interdisciplinary research framework”. Quality & Quantity . 52 (3): 1209–1225. doi: 10.1007/s11135-017-0513-8

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How to Write a Research Hypothesis

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Since grade school, we've all been familiar with hypotheses. The hypothesis is an essential step of the scientific method. But what makes an effective research hypothesis, how do you create one, and what types of hypotheses are there? We answer these questions and more.

Updated on April 27, 2022

the word hypothesis being typed on white paper

What is a research hypothesis?

General hypothesis.

Since grade school, we've all been familiar with the term “hypothesis.” A hypothesis is a fact-based guess or prediction that has not been proven. It is an essential step of the scientific method. The hypothesis of a study is a drive for experimentation to either prove the hypothesis or dispute it.

Research Hypothesis

A research hypothesis is more specific than a general hypothesis. It is an educated, expected prediction of the outcome of a study that is testable.

What makes an effective research hypothesis?

A good research hypothesis is a clear statement of the relationship between a dependent variable(s) and independent variable(s) relevant to the study that can be disproven.

Research hypothesis checklist

Once you've written a possible hypothesis, make sure it checks the following boxes:

  • It must be testable: You need a means to prove your hypothesis. If you can't test it, it's not a hypothesis.
  • It must include a dependent and independent variable: At least one independent variable ( cause ) and one dependent variable ( effect ) must be included.
  • The language must be easy to understand: Be as clear and concise as possible. Nothing should be left to interpretation.
  • It must be relevant to your research topic: You probably shouldn't be talking about cats and dogs if your research topic is outer space. Stay relevant to your topic.

How to create an effective research hypothesis

Pose it as a question first.

Start your research hypothesis from a journalistic approach. Ask one of the five W's: Who, what, when, where, or why.

A possible initial question could be: Why is the sky blue?

Do the preliminary research

Once you have a question in mind, read research around your topic. Collect research from academic journals.

If you're looking for information about the sky and why it is blue, research information about the atmosphere, weather, space, the sun, etc.

Write a draft hypothesis

Once you're comfortable with your subject and have preliminary knowledge, create a working hypothesis. Don't stress much over this. Your first hypothesis is not permanent. Look at it as a draft.

Your first draft of a hypothesis could be: Certain molecules in the Earth's atmosphere are responsive to the sky being the color blue.

Make your working draft perfect

Take your working hypothesis and make it perfect. Narrow it down to include only the information listed in the “Research hypothesis checklist” above.

Now that you've written your working hypothesis, narrow it down. Your new hypothesis could be: Light from the sun hitting oxygen molecules in the sky makes the color of the sky appear blue.

Write a null hypothesis

Your null hypothesis should be the opposite of your research hypothesis. It should be able to be disproven by your research.

In this example, your null hypothesis would be: Light from the sun hitting oxygen molecules in the sky does not make the color of the sky appear blue.

Why is it important to have a clear, testable hypothesis?

One of the main reasons a manuscript can be rejected from a journal is because of a weak hypothesis. “Poor hypothesis, study design, methodology, and improper use of statistics are other reasons for rejection of a manuscript,” says Dr. Ish Kumar Dhammi and Dr. Rehan-Ul-Haq in Indian Journal of Orthopaedics.

According to Dr. James M. Provenzale in American Journal of Roentgenology , “The clear declaration of a research question (or hypothesis) in the Introduction is critical for reviewers to understand the intent of the research study. It is best to clearly state the study goal in plain language (for example, “We set out to determine whether condition x produces condition y.”) An insufficient problem statement is one of the more common reasons for manuscript rejection.”

Characteristics that make a hypothesis weak include:

  • Unclear variables
  • Unoriginality
  • Too general
  • Too specific

A weak hypothesis leads to weak research and methods . The goal of a paper is to prove or disprove a hypothesis - or to prove or disprove a null hypothesis. If the hypothesis is not a dependent variable of what is being studied, the paper's methods should come into question.

A strong hypothesis is essential to the scientific method. A hypothesis states an assumed relationship between at least two variables and the experiment then proves or disproves that relationship with statistical significance. Without a proven and reproducible relationship, the paper feeds into the reproducibility crisis. Learn more about writing for reproducibility .

In a study published in The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology of India by Dr. Suvarna Satish Khadilkar, she reviewed 400 rejected manuscripts to see why they were rejected. Her studies revealed that poor methodology was a top reason for the submission having a final disposition of rejection.

Aside from publication chances, Dr. Gareth Dyke believes a clear hypothesis helps efficiency.

“Developing a clear and testable hypothesis for your research project means that you will not waste time, energy, and money with your work,” said Dyke. “Refining a hypothesis that is both meaningful, interesting, attainable, and testable is the goal of all effective research.”

Types of research hypotheses

There can be overlap in these types of hypotheses.

Simple hypothesis

A simple hypothesis is a hypothesis at its most basic form. It shows the relationship of one independent and one independent variable.

Example: Drinking soda (independent variable) every day leads to obesity (dependent variable).

Complex hypothesis

A complex hypothesis shows the relationship of two or more independent and dependent variables.

Example: Drinking soda (independent variable) every day leads to obesity (dependent variable) and heart disease (dependent variable).

Directional hypothesis

A directional hypothesis guesses which way the results of an experiment will go. It uses words like increase, decrease, higher, lower, positive, negative, more, or less. It is also frequently used in statistics.

Example: Humans exposed to radiation have a higher risk of cancer than humans not exposed to radiation.

Non-directional hypothesis

A non-directional hypothesis says there will be an effect on the dependent variable, but it does not say which direction.

Associative hypothesis

An associative hypothesis says that when one variable changes, so does the other variable.

Alternative hypothesis

An alternative hypothesis states that the variables have a relationship.

  • The opposite of a null hypothesis

Example: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Null hypothesis

A null hypothesis states that there is no relationship between the two variables. It is posed as the opposite of what the alternative hypothesis states.

Researchers use a null hypothesis to work to be able to reject it. A null hypothesis:

  • Can never be proven
  • Can only be rejected
  • Is the opposite of an alternative hypothesis

Example: An apple a day does not keep the doctor away.

Logical hypothesis

A logical hypothesis is a suggested explanation while using limited evidence.

Example: Bats can navigate in the dark better than tigers.

In this hypothesis, the researcher knows that tigers cannot see in the dark, and bats mostly live in darkness.

Empirical hypothesis

An empirical hypothesis is also called a “working hypothesis.” It uses the trial and error method and changes around the independent variables.

  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
  • Two apples a day keep the doctor away.
  • Three apples a day keep the doctor away.

In this case, the research changes the hypothesis as the researcher learns more about his/her research.

Statistical hypothesis

A statistical hypothesis is a look of a part of a population or statistical model. This type of hypothesis is especially useful if you are making a statement about a large population. Instead of having to test the entire population of Illinois, you could just use a smaller sample of people who live there.

Example: 70% of people who live in Illinois are iron deficient.

Causal hypothesis

A causal hypothesis states that the independent variable will have an effect on the dependent variable.

Example: Using tobacco products causes cancer.

Final thoughts

Make sure your research is error-free before you send it to your preferred journal . Check our our English Editing services to avoid your chances of desk rejection.

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Writing a Strong Hypothesis Statement

form hypothesis example

All good theses begins with a good thesis question. However, all great theses begins with a great hypothesis statement. One of the most important steps for writing a thesis is to create a strong hypothesis statement. 

What is a hypothesis statement?

A hypothesis statement must be testable. If it cannot be tested, then there is no research to be done.

Simply put, a hypothesis statement posits the relationship between two or more variables. It is a prediction of what you think will happen in a research study. A hypothesis statement must be testable. If it cannot be tested, then there is no research to be done. If your thesis question is whether wildfires have effects on the weather, “wildfires create tornadoes” would be your hypothesis. However, a hypothesis needs to have several key elements in order to meet the criteria for a good hypothesis.

In this article, we will learn about what distinguishes a weak hypothesis from a strong one. We will also learn how to phrase your thesis question and frame your variables so that you are able to write a strong hypothesis statement and great thesis.

What is a hypothesis?

A hypothesis statement posits, or considers, a relationship between two variables.

As we mentioned above, a hypothesis statement posits or considers a relationship between two variables. In our hypothesis statement example above, the two variables are wildfires and tornadoes, and our assumed relationship between the two is a causal one (wildfires cause tornadoes). It is clear from our example above what we will be investigating: the relationship between wildfires and tornadoes.

A strong hypothesis statement should be:

  • A prediction of the relationship between two or more variables

A hypothesis is not just a blind guess. It should build upon existing theories and knowledge . Tornadoes are often observed near wildfires once the fires reach a certain size. In addition, tornadoes are not a normal weather event in many areas; they have been spotted together with wildfires. This existing knowledge has informed the formulation of our hypothesis.

Depending on the thesis question, your research paper might have multiple hypothesis statements. What is important is that your hypothesis statement or statements are testable through data analysis, observation, experiments, or other methodologies.

Formulating your hypothesis

One of the best ways to form a hypothesis is to think about “if...then” statements.

Now that we know what a hypothesis statement is, let’s walk through how to formulate a strong one. First, you will need a thesis question. Your thesis question should be narrow in scope, answerable, and focused. Once you have your thesis question, it is time to start thinking about your hypothesis statement. You will need to clearly identify the variables involved before you can begin thinking about their relationship.

One of the best ways to form a hypothesis is to think about “if...then” statements . This can also help you easily identify the variables you are working with and refine your hypothesis statement. Let’s take a few examples.

If teenagers are given comprehensive sex education, there will be fewer teen pregnancies .

In this example, the independent variable is whether or not teenagers receive comprehensive sex education (the cause), and the dependent variable is the number of teen pregnancies (the effect).

If a cat is fed a vegan diet, it will die .

Here, our independent variable is the diet of the cat (the cause), and the dependent variable is the cat’s health (the thing impacted by the cause).

If children drink 8oz of milk per day, they will grow taller than children who do not drink any milk .

What are the variables in this hypothesis? If you identified drinking milk as the independent variable and growth as the dependent variable, you are correct. This is because we are guessing that drinking milk causes increased growth in the height of children.

Refining your hypothesis

Do not be afraid to refine your hypothesis throughout the process of formulation.

Do not be afraid to refine your hypothesis throughout the process of formulation. A strong hypothesis statement is clear, testable, and involves a prediction. While “testable” means verifiable or falsifiable, it also means that you are able to perform the necessary experiments without violating any ethical standards. Perhaps once you think about the ethics of possibly harming some cats by testing a vegan diet on them you might abandon the idea of that experiment altogether. However, if you think it is really important to research the relationship between a cat’s diet and a cat’s health, perhaps you could refine your hypothesis to something like this:

If 50% of a cat’s meals are vegan, the cat will not be able to meet its nutritional needs .

Another feature of a strong hypothesis statement is that it can easily be tested with the resources that you have readily available. While it might not be feasible to measure the growth of a cohort of children throughout their whole lives, you may be able to do so for a year. Then, you can adjust your hypothesis to something like this:

I f children aged 8 drink 8oz of milk per day for one year, they will grow taller during that year than children who do not drink any milk .

As you work to narrow down and refine your hypothesis to reflect a realistic potential research scope, don’t be afraid to talk to your supervisor about any concerns or questions you might have about what is truly possible to research. 

What makes a hypothesis weak?

We noted above that a strong hypothesis statement is clear, is a prediction of a relationship between two or more variables, and is testable. We also clarified that statements, which are too general or specific are not strong hypotheses. We have looked at some examples of hypotheses that meet the criteria for a strong hypothesis, but before we go any further, let’s look at weak or bad hypothesis statement examples so that you can really see the difference.

Bad hypothesis 1: Diabetes is caused by witchcraft .

While this is fun to think about, it cannot be tested or proven one way or the other with clear evidence, data analysis, or experiments. This bad hypothesis fails to meet the testability requirement.

Bad hypothesis 2: If I change the amount of food I eat, my energy levels will change .

This is quite vague. Am I increasing or decreasing my food intake? What do I expect exactly will happen to my energy levels and why? How am I defining energy level? This bad hypothesis statement fails the clarity requirement.

Bad hypothesis 3: Japanese food is disgusting because Japanese people don’t like tourists .

This hypothesis is unclear about the posited relationship between variables. Are we positing the relationship between the deliciousness of Japanese food and the desire for tourists to visit? or the relationship between the deliciousness of Japanese food and the amount that Japanese people like tourists? There is also the problematic subjectivity of the assessment that Japanese food is “disgusting.” The problems are numerous.

The null hypothesis and the alternative hypothesis

The null hypothesis, quite simply, posits that there is no relationship between the variables.

What is the null hypothesis?

The hypothesis posits a relationship between two or more variables. The null hypothesis, quite simply, posits that there is no relationship between the variables. It is often indicated as H 0 , which is read as “h-oh” or “h-null.” The alternative hypothesis is the opposite of the null hypothesis as it posits that there is some relationship between the variables. The alternative hypothesis is written as H a or H 1 .

Let’s take our previous hypothesis statement examples discussed at the start and look at their corresponding null hypothesis.

H a : If teenagers are given comprehensive sex education, there will be fewer teen pregnancies .
H 0 : If teenagers are given comprehensive sex education, there will be no change in the number of teen pregnancies .

The null hypothesis assumes that comprehensive sex education will not affect how many teenagers get pregnant. It should be carefully noted that the null hypothesis is not always the opposite of the alternative hypothesis. For example:

If teenagers are given comprehensive sex education, there will be more teen pregnancies .

These are opposing statements that assume an opposite relationship between the variables: comprehensive sex education increases or decreases the number of teen pregnancies. In fact, these are both alternative hypotheses. This is because they both still assume that there is a relationship between the variables . In other words, both hypothesis statements assume that there is some kind of relationship between sex education and teen pregnancy rates. The alternative hypothesis is also the researcher’s actual predicted outcome, which is why calling it “alternative” can be confusing! However, you can think of it this way: our default assumption is the null hypothesis, and so any possible relationship is an alternative to the default.

Step-by-step sample hypothesis statements

Now that we’ve covered what makes a hypothesis statement strong, how to go about formulating a hypothesis statement, refining your hypothesis statement, and the null hypothesis, let’s put it all together with some examples. The table below shows a breakdown of how we can take a thesis question, identify the variables, create a null hypothesis, and finally create a strong alternative hypothesis.

Once you have formulated a solid thesis question and written a strong hypothesis statement, you are ready to begin your thesis in earnest. Check out our site for more tips on writing a great thesis and information on thesis proofreading and editing services.

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Start with a clear thesis question

Think about “if-then” statements to identify your variables and the relationship between them

Create a null hypothesis

Formulate an alternative hypothesis using the variables you have identified

Make sure your hypothesis clearly posits a relationship between variables

Make sure your hypothesis is testable considering your available time and resources

What makes a hypothesis strong? +

A hypothesis is strong when it is testable, clear, and identifies a potential relationship between two or more variables.

What makes a hypothesis weak? +

A hypothesis is weak when it is too specific or too general, or does not identify a clear relationship between two or more variables.

What is the null hypothesis? +

The null hypothesis posits that the variables you have identified have no relationship.

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5.2 - writing hypotheses.

The first step in conducting a hypothesis test is to write the hypothesis statements that are going to be tested. For each test you will have a null hypothesis (\(H_0\)) and an alternative hypothesis (\(H_a\)).

When writing hypotheses there are three things that we need to know: (1) the parameter that we are testing (2) the direction of the test (non-directional, right-tailed or left-tailed), and (3) the value of the hypothesized parameter.

  • At this point we can write hypotheses for a single mean (\(\mu\)), paired means(\(\mu_d\)), a single proportion (\(p\)), the difference between two independent means (\(\mu_1-\mu_2\)), the difference between two proportions (\(p_1-p_2\)), a simple linear regression slope (\(\beta\)), and a correlation (\(\rho\)). 
  • The research question will give us the information necessary to determine if the test is two-tailed (e.g., "different from," "not equal to"), right-tailed (e.g., "greater than," "more than"), or left-tailed (e.g., "less than," "fewer than").
  • The research question will also give us the hypothesized parameter value. This is the number that goes in the hypothesis statements (i.e., \(\mu_0\) and \(p_0\)). For the difference between two groups, regression, and correlation, this value is typically 0.

Hypotheses are always written in terms of population parameters (e.g., \(p\) and \(\mu\)).  The tables below display all of the possible hypotheses for the parameters that we have learned thus far. Note that the null hypothesis always includes the equality (i.e., =).

form hypothesis example

How to Write a Hypothesis

form hypothesis example

If I [do something], then [this] will happen.

This basic statement/formula should be pretty familiar to all of you as it is the starting point of almost every scientific project or paper. It is a hypothesis – a statement that showcases what you “think” will happen during an experiment. This assumption is made based on the knowledge, facts, and data you already have.

How do you write a hypothesis? If you have a clear understanding of the proper structure of a hypothesis, you should not find it too hard to create one. However, if you have never written a hypothesis before, you might find it a bit frustrating. In this article from EssayPro - custom essay writing services , we are going to tell you everything you need to know about hypotheses, their types, and practical tips for writing them.

Hypothesis Definition

According to the definition, a hypothesis is an assumption one makes based on existing knowledge. To elaborate, it is a statement that translates the initial research question into a logical prediction shaped on the basis of available facts and evidence. To solve a specific problem, one first needs to identify the research problem (research question), conduct initial research, and set out to answer the given question by performing experiments and observing their outcomes. However, before one can move to the experimental part of the research, they should first identify what they expect to see for results. At this stage, a scientist makes an educated guess and writes a hypothesis that he or she is going to prove or refute in the course of their study.

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A hypothesis can also be seen as a form of development of knowledge. It is a well-grounded assumption put forward to clarify the properties and causes of the phenomena being studied.

As a rule, a hypothesis is formed based on a number of observations and examples that confirm it. This way, it looks plausible as it is backed up with some known information. The hypothesis is subsequently proved by turning it into an established fact or refuted (for example, by pointing out a counterexample), which allows it to attribute it to the category of false statements.

As a student, you may be asked to create a hypothesis statement as a part of your academic papers. Hypothesis-based approaches are commonly used among scientific academic works, including but not limited to research papers, theses, and dissertations.

Note that in some disciplines, a hypothesis statement is called a thesis statement. However, its essence and purpose remain unchanged – this statement aims to make an assumption regarding the outcomes of the investigation that will either be proved or refuted.

Characteristics and Sources of a Hypothesis

Now, as you know what a hypothesis is in a nutshell, let’s look at the key characteristics that define it:

  • It has to be clear and accurate in order to look reliable.
  • It has to be specific.
  • There should be scope for further investigation and experiments.
  • A hypothesis should be explained in simple language—while retaining its significance.
  • If you are making a relational hypothesis, two essential elements you have to include are variables and the relationship between them.

The main sources of a hypothesis are:

  • Scientific theories.
  • Observations from previous studies and current experiences.
  • The resemblance among different phenomena.
  • General patterns that affect people’s thinking process.

Types of Hypothesis

Basically, there are two major types of scientific hypothesis: alternative and null.

Types of Hypothesis

  • Alternative Hypothesis

This type of hypothesis is generally denoted as H1. This statement is used to identify the expected outcome of your research. According to the alternative hypothesis definition, this type of hypothesis can be further divided into two subcategories:

  • Directional — a statement that explains the direction of the expected outcomes. Sometimes this type of hypothesis is used to study the relationship between variables rather than comparing between the groups.
  • Non-directional — unlike the directional alternative hypothesis, a non-directional one does not imply a specific direction of the expected outcomes.

Now, let’s see an alternative hypothesis example for each type:

Directional: Attending more lectures will result in improved test scores among students. Non-directional: Lecture attendance will influence test scores among students.

Notice how in the directional hypothesis we specified that the attendance of more lectures will boost student’s performance on tests, whereas in the non-directional hypothesis we only stated that there is a relationship between the two variables (i.e. lecture attendance and students’ test scores) but did not specify whether the performance will improve or decrease.

  • Null Hypothesis

This type of hypothesis is generally denoted as H0. This statement is the complete opposite of what you expect or predict will happen throughout the course of your study—meaning it is the opposite of your alternative hypothesis. Simply put, a null hypothesis claims that there is no exact or actual correlation between the variables defined in the hypothesis.

To give you a better idea of how to write a null hypothesis, here is a clear example: Lecture attendance has no effect on student’s test scores.

Both of these types of hypotheses provide specific clarifications and restatements of the research problem. The main difference between these hypotheses and a research problem is that the latter is just a question that can’t be tested, whereas hypotheses can.

Based on the alternative and null hypothesis examples provided earlier, we can conclude that the importance and main purpose of these hypotheses are that they deliver a rough description of the subject matter. The main purpose of these statements is to give an investigator a specific guess that can be directly tested in a study. Simply put, a hypothesis outlines the framework, scope, and direction for the study. Although null and alternative hypotheses are the major types, there are also a few more to keep in mind:

Research Hypothesis — a statement that is used to test the correlation between two or more variables.

For example: Eating vitamin-rich foods affects human health.

Simple Hypothesis — a statement used to indicate the correlation between one independent and one dependent variable.

For example: Eating more vegetables leads to better immunity.

Complex Hypothesis — a statement used to indicate the correlation between two or more independent variables and two or more dependent variables.

For example: Eating more fruits and vegetables leads to better immunity, weight loss, and lower risk of diseases.

Associative and Causal Hypothesis — an associative hypothesis is a statement used to indicate the correlation between variables under the scenario when a change in one variable inevitably changes the other variable. A causal hypothesis is a statement that highlights the cause and effect relationship between variables.

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Hypothesis vs Prediction

When speaking of hypotheses, another term that comes to mind is prediction. These two terms are often used interchangeably, which can be rather confusing. Although both a hypothesis and prediction can generally be defined as “guesses” and can be easy to confuse, these terms are different. The main difference between a hypothesis and a prediction is that the first is predominantly used in science, while the latter is most often used outside of science.

Simply put, a hypothesis is an intelligent assumption. It is a guess made regarding the nature of the unknown (or less known) phenomena based on existing knowledge, studies, and/or series of experiments, and is otherwise grounded by valid facts. The main purpose of a hypothesis is to use available facts to create a logical relationship between variables in order to provide a more precise scientific explanation. Additionally, hypotheses are statements that can be tested with further experiments. It is an assumption you make regarding the flow and outcome(s) of your research study.

A prediction, on the contrary, is a guess that often lacks grounding. Although, in theory, a prediction can be scientific, in most cases it is rather fictional—i.e. a pure guess that is not based on current knowledge and/or facts. As a rule, predictions are linked to foretelling events that may or may not occur in the future. Often, a person who makes predictions has little or no actual knowledge of the subject matter he or she makes the assumption about.

Another big difference between these terms is in the methodology used to prove each of them. A prediction can only be proven once. You can determine whether it is right or wrong only upon the occurrence or non-occurrence of the predicted event. A hypothesis, on the other hand, offers scope for further testing and experiments. Additionally, a hypothesis can be proven in multiple stages. This basically means that a single hypothesis can be proven or refuted numerous times by different scientists who use different scientific tools and methods.

To give you a better idea of how a hypothesis is different from a prediction, let’s look at the following examples:

Hypothesis: If I eat more vegetables and fruits, then I will lose weight faster.

This is a hypothesis because it is based on generally available knowledge (i.e. fruits and vegetables include fewer calories compared to other foods) and past experiences (i.e. people who give preference to healthier foods like fruits and vegetables are losing weight easier). It is still a guess, but it is based on facts and can be tested with an experiment.

Prediction: The end of the world will occur in 2023.

This is a prediction because it foretells future events. However, this assumption is fictional as it doesn’t have any actual grounded evidence supported by facts.

Based on everything that was said earlier and our examples, we can highlight the following key takeaways:

  • A hypothesis, unlike a prediction, is a more intelligent assumption based on facts.
  • Hypotheses define existing variables and analyze the relationship(s) between them.
  • Predictions are most often fictional and lack grounding.
  • A prediction is most often used to foretell events in the future.
  • A prediction can only be proven once – when the predicted event occurs or doesn’t occur. 
  • A hypothesis can remain a hypothesis even if one scientist has already proven or disproven it. Other scientists in the future can obtain a different result using other methods and tools.

We also recommend that you read about some informative essay topics .

Now, as you know what a hypothesis is, what types of it exist, and how it differs from a prediction, you are probably wondering how to state a hypothesis. In this section, we will guide you through the main stages of writing a good hypothesis and provide handy tips and examples to help you overcome this challenge:

how to write

1. Define Your Research Question

Here is one thing to keep in mind – regardless of the paper or project you are working on, the process should always start with asking the right research question. A perfect research question should be specific, clear, focused (meaning not too broad), and manageable.

Example: How does eating fruits and vegetables affect human health?

2. Conduct Your Basic Initial Research

As you already know, a hypothesis is an educated guess of the expected results and outcomes of an investigation. Thus, it is vital to collect some information before you can make this assumption.

At this stage, you should find an answer to your research question based on what has already been discovered. Search for facts, past studies, theories, etc. Based on the collected information, you should be able to make a logical and intelligent guess.

3. Formulate a Hypothesis

Based on the initial research, you should have a certain idea of what you may find throughout the course of your research. Use this knowledge to shape a clear and concise hypothesis.

Based on the type of project you are working on, and the type of hypothesis you are planning to use, you can restate your hypothesis in several different ways:

Non-directional: Eating fruits and vegetables will affect one’s human physical health. Directional: Eating fruits and vegetables will positively affect one’s human physical health. Null: Eating fruits and vegetables will have no effect on one’s human physical health.

4. Refine Your Hypothesis

Finally, the last stage of creating a good hypothesis is refining what you’ve got. During this step, you need to define whether your hypothesis:

  • Has clear and relevant variables;
  • Identifies the relationship between its variables;
  • Is specific and testable;
  • Suggests a predicted result of the investigation or experiment.

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Hypothesis Examples

Following a step-by-step guide and tips from our essay writers for hire , you should be able to create good hypotheses with ease. To give you a starting point, we have also compiled a list of different research questions with one hypothesis and one null hypothesis example for each:

Ask Pros to Make a Perfect Hypothesis for You!

Sometimes, coping with a large academic load is just too much for a student to handle. Papers like research papers and dissertations can take too much time and effort to write, and, often, a hypothesis is a necessary starting point to get the task on track. Writing or editing a hypothesis is not as easy as it may seem. However, if you need help with forming it, the team at EssayPro is always ready to come to your rescue! If you’re feeling stuck, or don’t have enough time to cope with other tasks, don’t hesitate to send us you rewrite my essay for me or any other request.

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Research Hypothesis In Psychology: Types, & Examples

Saul Mcleod, PhD

Editor-in-Chief for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

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

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Olivia Guy-Evans, MSc

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

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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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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15 Hypothesis Examples

hypothesis definition and example, explained below

A hypothesis is defined as a testable prediction , and is used primarily in scientific experiments as a potential or predicted outcome that scientists attempt to prove or disprove (Atkinson et al., 2021; Tan, 2022).

In my types of hypothesis article, I outlined 13 different hypotheses, including the directional hypothesis (which makes a prediction about an effect of a treatment will be positive or negative) and the associative hypothesis (which makes a prediction about the association between two variables).

This article will dive into some interesting examples of hypotheses and examine potential ways you might test each one.

Hypothesis Examples

1. “inadequate sleep decreases memory retention”.

Field: Psychology

Type: Causal Hypothesis A causal hypothesis explores the effect of one variable on another. This example posits that a lack of adequate sleep causes decreased memory retention. In other words, if you are not getting enough sleep, your ability to remember and recall information may suffer.

How to Test:

To test this hypothesis, you might devise an experiment whereby your participants are divided into two groups: one receives an average of 8 hours of sleep per night for a week, while the other gets less than the recommended sleep amount.

During this time, all participants would daily study and recall new, specific information. You’d then measure memory retention of this information for both groups using standard memory tests and compare the results.

Should the group with less sleep have statistically significant poorer memory scores, the hypothesis would be supported.

Ensuring the integrity of the experiment requires taking into account factors such as individual health differences, stress levels, and daily nutrition.

Relevant Study: Sleep loss, learning capacity and academic performance (Curcio, Ferrara & De Gennaro, 2006)

2. “Increase in Temperature Leads to Increase in Kinetic Energy”

Field: Physics

Type: Deductive Hypothesis The deductive hypothesis applies the logic of deductive reasoning – it moves from a general premise to a more specific conclusion. This specific hypothesis assumes that as temperature increases, the kinetic energy of particles also increases – that is, when you heat something up, its particles move around more rapidly.

This hypothesis could be examined by heating a gas in a controlled environment and capturing the movement of its particles as a function of temperature.

You’d gradually increase the temperature and measure the kinetic energy of the gas particles with each increment. If the kinetic energy consistently rises with the temperature, your hypothesis gets supporting evidence.

Variables such as pressure and volume of the gas would need to be held constant to ensure validity of results.

3. “Children Raised in Bilingual Homes Develop Better Cognitive Skills”

Field: Psychology/Linguistics

Type: Comparative Hypothesis The comparative hypothesis posits a difference between two or more groups based on certain variables. In this context, you might propose that children raised in bilingual homes have superior cognitive skills compared to those raised in monolingual homes.

Testing this hypothesis could involve identifying two groups of children: those raised in bilingual homes, and those raised in monolingual homes.

Cognitive skills in both groups would be evaluated using a standard cognitive ability test at different stages of development. The examination would be repeated over a significant time period for consistency.

If the group raised in bilingual homes persistently scores higher than the other, the hypothesis would thereby be supported.

The challenge for the researcher would be controlling for other variables that could impact cognitive development, such as socio-economic status, education level of parents, and parenting styles.

Relevant Study: The cognitive benefits of being bilingual (Marian & Shook, 2012)

4. “High-Fiber Diet Leads to Lower Incidences of Cardiovascular Diseases”

Field: Medicine/Nutrition

Type: Alternative Hypothesis The alternative hypothesis suggests an alternative to a null hypothesis. In this context, the implied null hypothesis could be that diet has no effect on cardiovascular health, which the alternative hypothesis contradicts by suggesting that a high-fiber diet leads to fewer instances of cardiovascular diseases.

To test this hypothesis, a longitudinal study could be conducted on two groups of participants; one adheres to a high-fiber diet, while the other follows a diet low in fiber.

After a fixed period, the cardiovascular health of participants in both groups could be analyzed and compared. If the group following a high-fiber diet has a lower number of recorded cases of cardiovascular diseases, it would provide evidence supporting the hypothesis.

Control measures should be implemented to exclude the influence of other lifestyle and genetic factors that contribute to cardiovascular health.

Relevant Study: Dietary fiber, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease (King, 2005)

5. “Gravity Influences the Directional Growth of Plants”

Field: Agronomy / Botany

Type: Explanatory Hypothesis An explanatory hypothesis attempts to explain a phenomenon. In this case, the hypothesis proposes that gravity affects how plants direct their growth – both above-ground (toward sunlight) and below-ground (towards water and other resources).

The testing could be conducted by growing plants in a rotating cylinder to create artificial gravity.

Observations on the direction of growth, over a specified period, can provide insights into the influencing factors. If plants consistently direct their growth in a manner that indicates the influence of gravitational pull, the hypothesis is substantiated.

It is crucial to ensure that other growth-influencing factors, such as light and water, are uniformly distributed so that only gravity influences the directional growth.

6. “The Implementation of Gamified Learning Improves Students’ Motivation”

Field: Education

Type: Relational Hypothesis The relational hypothesis describes the relation between two variables. Here, the hypothesis is that the implementation of gamified learning has a positive effect on the motivation of students.

To validate this proposition, two sets of classes could be compared: one that implements a learning approach with game-based elements, and another that follows a traditional learning approach.

The students’ motivation levels could be gauged by monitoring their engagement, performance, and feedback over a considerable timeframe.

If the students engaged in the gamified learning context present higher levels of motivation and achievement, the hypothesis would be supported.

Control measures ought to be put into place to account for individual differences, including prior knowledge and attitudes towards learning.

Relevant Study: Does educational gamification improve students’ motivation? (Chapman & Rich, 2018)

7. “Mathematics Anxiety Negatively Affects Performance”

Field: Educational Psychology

Type: Research Hypothesis The research hypothesis involves making a prediction that will be tested. In this case, the hypothesis proposes that a student’s anxiety about math can negatively influence their performance in math-related tasks.

To assess this hypothesis, researchers must first measure the mathematics anxiety levels of a sample of students using a validated instrument, such as the Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale.

Then, the students’ performance in mathematics would be evaluated through standard testing. If there’s a negative correlation between the levels of math anxiety and math performance (meaning as anxiety increases, performance decreases), the hypothesis would be supported.

It would be crucial to control for relevant factors such as overall academic performance and previous mathematical achievement.

8. “Disruption of Natural Sleep Cycle Impairs Worker Productivity”

Field: Organizational Psychology

Type: Operational Hypothesis The operational hypothesis involves defining the variables in measurable terms. In this example, the hypothesis posits that disrupting the natural sleep cycle, for instance through shift work or irregular working hours, can lessen productivity among workers.

To test this hypothesis, you could collect data from workers who maintain regular working hours and those with irregular schedules.

Measuring productivity could involve examining the worker’s ability to complete tasks, the quality of their work, and their efficiency.

If workers with interrupted sleep cycles demonstrate lower productivity compared to those with regular sleep patterns, it would lend support to the hypothesis.

Consideration should be given to potential confounding variables such as job type, worker age, and overall health.

9. “Regular Physical Activity Reduces the Risk of Depression”

Field: Health Psychology

Type: Predictive Hypothesis A predictive hypothesis involves making a prediction about the outcome of a study based on the observed relationship between variables. In this case, it is hypothesized that individuals who engage in regular physical activity are less likely to suffer from depression.

Longitudinal studies would suit to test this hypothesis, tracking participants’ levels of physical activity and their mental health status over time.

The level of physical activity could be self-reported or monitored, while mental health status could be assessed using standard diagnostic tools or surveys.

If data analysis shows that participants maintaining regular physical activity have a lower incidence of depression, this would endorse the hypothesis.

However, care should be taken to control other lifestyle and behavioral factors that could intervene with the results.

Relevant Study: Regular physical exercise and its association with depression (Kim, 2022)

10. “Regular Meditation Enhances Emotional Stability”

Type: Empirical Hypothesis In the empirical hypothesis, predictions are based on amassed empirical evidence . This particular hypothesis theorizes that frequent meditation leads to improved emotional stability, resonating with numerous studies linking meditation to a variety of psychological benefits.

Earlier studies reported some correlations, but to test this hypothesis directly, you’d organize an experiment where one group meditates regularly over a set period while a control group doesn’t.

Both groups’ emotional stability levels would be measured at the start and end of the experiment using a validated emotional stability assessment.

If regular meditators display noticeable improvements in emotional stability compared to the control group, the hypothesis gains credit.

You’d have to ensure a similar emotional baseline for all participants at the start to avoid skewed results.

11. “Children Exposed to Reading at an Early Age Show Superior Academic Progress”

Type: Directional Hypothesis The directional hypothesis predicts the direction of an expected relationship between variables. Here, the hypothesis anticipates that early exposure to reading positively affects a child’s academic advancement.

A longitudinal study tracking children’s reading habits from an early age and their consequent academic performance could validate this hypothesis.

Parents could report their children’s exposure to reading at home, while standardized school exam results would provide a measure of academic achievement.

If the children exposed to early reading consistently perform better acadically, it gives weight to the hypothesis.

However, it would be important to control for variables that might impact academic performance, such as socioeconomic background, parental education level, and school quality.

12. “Adopting Energy-efficient Technologies Reduces Carbon Footprint of Industries”

Field: Environmental Science

Type: Descriptive Hypothesis A descriptive hypothesis predicts the existence of an association or pattern related to variables. In this scenario, the hypothesis suggests that industries adopting energy-efficient technologies will resultantly show a reduced carbon footprint.

Global industries making use of energy-efficient technologies could track their carbon emissions over time. At the same time, others not implementing such technologies continue their regular tracking.

After a defined time, the carbon emission data of both groups could be compared. If industries that adopted energy-efficient technologies demonstrate a notable reduction in their carbon footprints, the hypothesis would hold strong.

In the experiment, you would exclude variations brought by factors such as industry type, size, and location.

13. “Reduced Screen Time Improves Sleep Quality”

Type: Simple Hypothesis The simple hypothesis is a prediction about the relationship between two variables, excluding any other variables from consideration. This example posits that by reducing time spent on devices like smartphones and computers, an individual should experience improved sleep quality.

A sample group would need to reduce their daily screen time for a pre-determined period. Sleep quality before and after the reduction could be measured using self-report sleep diaries and objective measures like actigraphy, monitoring movement and wakefulness during sleep.

If the data shows that sleep quality improved post the screen time reduction, the hypothesis would be validated.

Other aspects affecting sleep quality, like caffeine intake, should be controlled during the experiment.

Relevant Study: Screen time use impacts low‐income preschool children’s sleep quality, tiredness, and ability to fall asleep (Waller et al., 2021)

14. Engaging in Brain-Training Games Improves Cognitive Functioning in Elderly

Field: Gerontology

Type: Inductive Hypothesis Inductive hypotheses are based on observations leading to broader generalizations and theories. In this context, the hypothesis deduces from observed instances that engaging in brain-training games can help improve cognitive functioning in the elderly.

A longitudinal study could be conducted where an experimental group of elderly people partakes in regular brain-training games.

Their cognitive functioning could be assessed at the start of the study and at regular intervals using standard neuropsychological tests.

If the group engaging in brain-training games shows better cognitive functioning scores over time compared to a control group not playing these games, the hypothesis would be supported.

15. Farming Practices Influence Soil Erosion Rates

Type: Null Hypothesis A null hypothesis is a negative statement assuming no relationship or difference between variables. The hypothesis in this context asserts there’s no effect of different farming practices on the rates of soil erosion.

Comparing soil erosion rates in areas with different farming practices over a considerable timeframe could help test this hypothesis.

If, statistically, the farming practices do not lead to differences in soil erosion rates, the null hypothesis is accepted.

However, if marked variation appears, the null hypothesis is rejected, meaning farming practices do influence soil erosion rates. It would be crucial to control for external factors like weather, soil type, and natural vegetation.

The variety of hypotheses mentioned above underscores the diversity of research constructs inherent in different fields, each with its unique purpose and way of testing.

While researchers may develop hypotheses primarily as tools to define and narrow the focus of the study, these hypotheses also serve as valuable guiding forces for the data collection and analysis procedures, making the research process more efficient and direction-focused.

Hypotheses serve as a compass for any form of academic research. The diverse examples provided, from Psychology to Educational Studies, Environmental Science to Gerontology, clearly demonstrate how certain hypotheses suit specific fields more aptly than others.

It is important to underline that although these varied hypotheses differ in their structure and methods of testing, each endorses the fundamental value of empiricism in research. Evidence-based decision making remains at the heart of scholarly inquiry, regardless of the research field, thus aligning all hypotheses to the core purpose of scientific investigation.

Testing hypotheses is an essential part of the scientific method . By doing so, researchers can either confirm their predictions, giving further validity to an existing theory, or they might uncover new insights that could potentially shift the field’s understanding of a particular phenomenon. In either case, hypotheses serve as the stepping stones for scientific exploration and discovery.

Atkinson, P., Delamont, S., Cernat, A., Sakshaug, J. W., & Williams, R. A. (2021).  SAGE research methods foundations . SAGE Publications Ltd.

Curcio, G., Ferrara, M., & De Gennaro, L. (2006). Sleep loss, learning capacity and academic performance.  Sleep medicine reviews ,  10 (5), 323-337.

Kim, J. H. (2022). Regular physical exercise and its association with depression: A population-based study short title: Exercise and depression.  Psychiatry Research ,  309 , 114406.

King, D. E. (2005). Dietary fiber, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease.  Molecular nutrition & food research ,  49 (6), 594-600.

Marian, V., & Shook, A. (2012, September). The cognitive benefits of being bilingual. In Cerebrum: the Dana forum on brain science (Vol. 2012). Dana Foundation.

Tan, W. C. K. (2022). Research Methods: A Practical Guide For Students And Researchers (Second Edition) . World Scientific Publishing Company.

Waller, N. A., Zhang, N., Cocci, A. H., D’Agostino, C., Wesolek‐Greenson, S., Wheelock, K., … & Resnicow, K. (2021). Screen time use impacts low‐income preschool children’s sleep quality, tiredness, and ability to fall asleep. Child: care, health and development, 47 (5), 618-626.

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Statology

Statistics Made Easy

How to Write a Null Hypothesis (5 Examples)

A hypothesis test uses sample data to determine whether or not some claim about a population parameter is true.

Whenever we perform a hypothesis test, we always write a null hypothesis and an alternative hypothesis, which take the following forms:

H 0 (Null Hypothesis): Population parameter =,  ≤, ≥ some value

H A  (Alternative Hypothesis): Population parameter <, >, ≠ some value

Note that the null hypothesis always contains the equal sign .

We interpret the hypotheses as follows:

Null hypothesis: The sample data provides no evidence to support some claim being made by an individual.

Alternative hypothesis: The sample data  does provide sufficient evidence to support the claim being made by an individual.

For example, suppose it’s assumed that the average height of a certain species of plant is 20 inches tall. However, one botanist claims the true average height is greater than 20 inches.

To test this claim, she may go out and collect a random sample of plants. She can then use this sample data to perform a hypothesis test using the following two hypotheses:

H 0 : μ ≤ 20 (the true mean height of plants is equal to or even less than 20 inches)

H A : μ > 20 (the true mean height of plants is greater than 20 inches)

If the sample data gathered by the botanist shows that the mean height of this species of plants is significantly greater than 20 inches, she can reject the null hypothesis and conclude that the mean height is greater than 20 inches.

Read through the following examples to gain a better understanding of how to write a null hypothesis in different situations.

Example 1: Weight of Turtles

A biologist wants to test whether or not the true mean weight of a certain species of turtles is 300 pounds. To test this, he goes out and measures the weight of a random sample of 40 turtles.

Here is how to write the null and alternative hypotheses for this scenario:

H 0 : μ = 300 (the true mean weight is equal to 300 pounds)

H A : μ ≠ 300 (the true mean weight is not equal to 300 pounds)

Example 2: Height of Males

It’s assumed that the mean height of males in a certain city is 68 inches. However, an independent researcher believes the true mean height is greater than 68 inches. To test this, he goes out and collects the height of 50 males in the city.

H 0 : μ ≤ 68 (the true mean height is equal to or even less than 68 inches)

H A : μ > 68 (the true mean height is greater than 68 inches)

Example 3: Graduation Rates

A university states that 80% of all students graduate on time. However, an independent researcher believes that less than 80% of all students graduate on time. To test this, she collects data on the proportion of students who graduated on time last year at the university.

H 0 : p ≥ 0.80 (the true proportion of students who graduate on time is 80% or higher)

H A : μ < 0.80 (the true proportion of students who graduate on time is less than 80%)

Example 4: Burger Weights

A food researcher wants to test whether or not the true mean weight of a burger at a certain restaurant is 7 ounces. To test this, he goes out and measures the weight of a random sample of 20 burgers from this restaurant.

H 0 : μ = 7 (the true mean weight is equal to 7 ounces)

H A : μ ≠ 7 (the true mean weight is not equal to 7 ounces)

Example 5: Citizen Support

A politician claims that less than 30% of citizens in a certain town support a certain law. To test this, he goes out and surveys 200 citizens on whether or not they support the law.

H 0 : p ≥ .30 (the true proportion of citizens who support the law is greater than or equal to 30%)

H A : μ < 0.30 (the true proportion of citizens who support the law is less than 30%)

Additional Resources

Introduction to Hypothesis Testing Introduction to Confidence Intervals An Explanation of P-Values and Statistical Significance

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  1. How to Write a Strong Hypothesis

    Table of contents What is a hypothesis? Developing a hypothesis (with example) Hypothesis examples Other interesting articles Frequently asked questions about writing hypotheses What is a hypothesis? A hypothesis states your predictions about what your research will find.

  2. Hypothesis Examples: How to Write a Great Research Hypothesis

    One hypothesis example would be a study designed to look at the relationship between sleep deprivation and test performance might have a hypothesis that states: "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."

  3. How to Write a Hypothesis in 6 Steps, With Examples

    Some hypothesis examples include: If I water plants daily they will grow faster. Adults can more accurately guess the temperature than children can. Butterflies prefer white flowers to orange ones. If you've noticed that watering your plants every day makes them grow faster, your hypothesis might be "plants grow better with regular watering."

  4. How to Write a Strong Hypothesis

    Step 1: Ask a question Writing a hypothesis begins with a research question that you want to answer. The question should be focused, specific, and researchable within the constraints of your project. Example: Research question Do students who attend more lectures get better exam results? Step 2: Do some preliminary research

  5. Writing a Hypothesis for Your Science Fair Project

    For example, let us say that you hypothesize that earthworms do not exist in places that have very cold winters because it is too cold for them to survive. You then predict that you will find earthworms in the dirt in Florida, which has warm winters, but not Alaska, which has cold winters.

  6. What Are Examples of a Hypothesis?

    Although you could state a scientific hypothesis in various ways, most hypotheses are either "If, then" statements or forms of the null hypothesis. The null hypothesis is sometimes called the "no difference" hypothesis. The null hypothesis is good for experimentation because it's simple to disprove.

  7. Hypothesis Examples: Different Types in Science and Research

    The most common forms of hypotheses are: Simple Hypothesis Complex Hypothesis Null Hypothesis Alternative Hypothesis Logical Hypothesis Empirical Hypothesis Statistical Hypothesis See how these types of hypotheses are created through examples.

  8. What Is a Hypothesis and How Do I Write One?

    Providing hypothesis examples Giving you tips for how to write your own hypothesis So let's get started! A hypothesis is all about asking a question. What Is a Hypothesis? Merriam Webster defines a hypothesis as "an assumption or concession made for the sake of argument." In other words, a hypothesis is an educated guess.

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

    A good example of this is "mixing red and blue forms purple." In this hypothesis, mixing red and blue is the independent variable as you're combining the two colors at your own will. The formation of purple is the dependent variable as, in this case, it is conditional to the independent variable. Different Types of Hypotheses‌ Types of hypotheses

  10. What is and How to Write a Good Hypothesis in Research?

    An effective hypothesis in research is clearly and concisely written, and any terms or definitions clarified and defined. Specific language must also be used to avoid any generalities or assumptions. Use the following points as a checklist to evaluate the effectiveness of your research hypothesis: Predicts the relationship and outcome.

  11. Hypothesis Testing

    Step 1: State your null and alternate hypothesis After developing your initial research hypothesis (the prediction that you want to investigate), it is important to restate it as a null (H o) and alternate (H a) hypothesis so that you can test it mathematically.

  12. How to Write a Research Hypothesis: Good & Bad Examples

    61,392 How to Write a Research Hypothesis: Good & Bad Examples Kevin Your hypothesis is the "seed" from which your entire study grows and develops in detail. It is perhaps the most important sentence of your research paper. What is a research hypothesis?

  13. What is a Research Hypothesis and How to Write a Hypothesis

    In research, there is a convention that the hypothesis is written in two forms, the null hypothesis, and the alternative hypothesis (called the experimental hypothesis when the method of investigation is an experiment). Characteristics of a Good Research Hypothesis

  14. Hypothesis Examples

    Here are some research hypothesis examples: If you leave the lights on, then it takes longer for people to fall asleep. If you refrigerate apples, they last longer before going bad. If you keep the curtains closed, then you need less electricity to heat or cool the house (the electric bill is lower).

  15. How to Write a Research Hypothesis

    A simple hypothesis is a hypothesis at its most basic form. It shows the relationship of one independent and one independent variable. Example: Drinking soda (independent variable) every day leads to obesity (dependent variable). Complex hypothesis. A complex hypothesis shows the relationship of two or more independent and dependent variables.

  16. Writing a Strong Hypothesis Statement

    Formulating your hypothesis. One of the best ways to form a hypothesis is to think about "if...then" statements. Now that we know what a hypothesis statement is, let's walk through how to formulate a strong one. First, you will need a thesis question. Your thesis question should be narrow in scope, answerable, and focused.

  17. What is a Research Hypothesis: How to Write it, Types, and Examples

    1. Null hypothesis: 2. Alternative hypothesis: 3. Directional hypothesis: 4. Non-directional hypothesis: 5. Simple hypothesis: 6. Complex hypothesis: 7. Associative hypothesis: 8.

  18. 5.2

    Alternative Hypothesis. The statement that there is some difference in the population (s), denoted as H a or H 1. When writing hypotheses there are three things that we need to know: (1) the parameter that we are testing (2) the direction of the test (non-directional, right-tailed or left-tailed), and (3) the value of the hypothesized parameter.

  19. How to Write a Hypothesis: Types, Steps and Examples

    A hypothesis can also be seen as a form of development of knowledge. It is a well-grounded assumption put forward to clarify the properties and causes of the phenomena being studied. As a rule, a hypothesis is formed based on a number of observations and examples that confirm it.

  20. Research Hypothesis In Psychology: Types, & Examples

    Types Falsifiability Can a Hypothesis be Proven? How to Write a Hypothesis Examples 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.

  21. What is a Hypothesis

    Table of Contents 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.

  22. 15 Hypothesis Examples (2024)

    Hypothesis Examples 1. "Inadequate Sleep Decreases Memory Retention" Field: Psychology Type: Causal Hypothesis A causal hypothesis explores the effect of one variable on another. This example posits that a lack of adequate sleep causes decreased memory retention.

  23. How to Write a Null Hypothesis (5 Examples)

    Whenever we perform a hypothesis test, we always write a null hypothesis and an alternative hypothesis, which take the following forms: H0 (Null Hypothesis): Population parameter =, ≤, ≥ some value HA (Alternative Hypothesis): Population parameter <, >, ≠ some value Note that the null hypothesis always contains the equal sign.