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Definition of hypothesis – Learner’s Dictionary

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(Definition of hypothesis from the Cambridge Learner's Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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used to say that what you have just said is also true in the opposite order

Infinitive or -ing verb? Avoiding common mistakes with verb patterns (1)

Infinitive or -ing verb? Avoiding common mistakes with verb patterns (1)

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

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

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

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

Research Hypothesis 101

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

What is a hypothesis?

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

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

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

Hypothesis: sleep impacts academic performance.

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

But that’s not good enough…

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

What is a research hypothesis?

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

Let’s take a look at these more closely.

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hypothesis of something meaning

Hypothesis Essential #1: Specificity & Clarity

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hypothesis Essential #2: Testability (Provability)

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

For example, consider the hypothesis we mentioned earlier:

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

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

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

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

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

Defining A Research Hypothesis

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

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

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

What about the null hypothesis?

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

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

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

And there you have it – hypotheses in a nutshell. 

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

hypothesis of something meaning

Psst… there’s more (for free)

This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project. 

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Research limitations vs delimitations

12 Comments

Lynnet Chikwaikwai

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

Dr. WuodArek

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

Afshin

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

GANDI Benjamin

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

Lucile Dossou-Yovo

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

Egya Salihu

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

Mulugeta Tefera

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

Derek Jansen

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

Samia

could you please elaborate it more

Patricia Nyawir

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

Hopeson Khondiwa

This is very helpful

Dr. Andarge

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

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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."

hypothesis of something meaning

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.

hypothesis of something meaning

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."

This is the Difference Between a Hypothesis and a Theory

What to Know A hypothesis is an assumption made before any research has been done. It is formed so that it can be tested to see if it might be true. A theory is a principle formed to explain the things already shown in data. Because of the rigors of experiment and control, it is much more likely that a theory will be true than a hypothesis.

As anyone who has worked in a laboratory or out in the field can tell you, science is about process: that of observing, making inferences about those observations, and then performing tests to see if the truth value of those inferences holds up. The scientific method is designed to be a rigorous procedure for acquiring knowledge about the world around us.

hypothesis

In scientific reasoning, a hypothesis is constructed before any applicable research has been done. A theory, on the other hand, is supported by evidence: it's a principle formed as an attempt to explain things that have already been substantiated by data.

Toward that end, science employs a particular vocabulary for describing how ideas are proposed, tested, and supported or disproven. And that's where we see the difference between a hypothesis and a theory .

A hypothesis is an assumption, something proposed for the sake of argument so that it can be tested to see if it might be true.

In the scientific method, the hypothesis is constructed before any applicable research has been done, apart from a basic background review. You ask a question, read up on what has been studied before, and then form a hypothesis.

What is a Hypothesis?

A hypothesis is usually tentative, an assumption or suggestion made strictly for the objective of being tested.

When a character which has been lost in a breed, reappears after a great number of generations, the most probable hypothesis is, not that the offspring suddenly takes after an ancestor some hundred generations distant, but that in each successive generation there has been a tendency to reproduce the character in question, which at last, under unknown favourable conditions, gains an ascendancy. Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species , 1859 According to one widely reported hypothesis , cell-phone transmissions were disrupting the bees' navigational abilities. (Few experts took the cell-phone conjecture seriously; as one scientist said to me, "If that were the case, Dave Hackenberg's hives would have been dead a long time ago.") Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker , 6 Aug. 2007

What is a Theory?

A theory , in contrast, is a principle that has been formed as an attempt to explain things that have already been substantiated by data. It is used in the names of a number of principles accepted in the scientific community, such as the Big Bang Theory . Because of the rigors of experimentation and control, its likelihood as truth is much higher than that of a hypothesis.

It is evident, on our theory , that coasts merely fringed by reefs cannot have subsided to any perceptible amount; and therefore they must, since the growth of their corals, either have remained stationary or have been upheaved. Now, it is remarkable how generally it can be shown, by the presence of upraised organic remains, that the fringed islands have been elevated: and so far, this is indirect evidence in favour of our theory . Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle , 1839 An example of a fundamental principle in physics, first proposed by Galileo in 1632 and extended by Einstein in 1905, is the following: All observers traveling at constant velocity relative to one another, should witness identical laws of nature. From this principle, Einstein derived his theory of special relativity. Alan Lightman, Harper's , December 2011

Non-Scientific Use

In non-scientific use, however, hypothesis and theory are often used interchangeably to mean simply an idea, speculation, or hunch (though theory is more common in this regard):

The theory of the teacher with all these immigrant kids was that if you spoke English loudly enough they would eventually understand. E. L. Doctorow, Loon Lake , 1979 Chicago is famous for asking questions for which there can be no boilerplate answers. Example: given the probability that the federal tax code, nondairy creamer, Dennis Rodman and the art of mime all came from outer space, name something else that has extraterrestrial origins and defend your hypothesis . John McCormick, Newsweek , 5 Apr. 1999 In his mind's eye, Miller saw his case suddenly taking form: Richard Bailey had Helen Brach killed because she was threatening to sue him over the horses she had purchased. It was, he realized, only a theory , but it was one he felt certain he could, in time, prove. Full of urgency, a man with a mission now that he had a hypothesis to guide him, he issued new orders to his troops: Find out everything you can about Richard Bailey and his crowd. Howard Blum, Vanity Fair , January 1995

And sometimes one term is used as a genus, or a means for defining the other:

Laplace's popular version of his astronomy, the Système du monde , was famous for introducing what came to be known as the nebular hypothesis , the theory that the solar system was formed by the condensation, through gradual cooling, of the gaseous atmosphere (the nebulae) surrounding the sun. Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club , 2001 Researchers use this information to support the gateway drug theory — the hypothesis that using one intoxicating substance leads to future use of another. Jordy Byrd, The Pacific Northwest Inlander , 6 May 2015 Fox, the business and economics columnist for Time magazine, tells the story of the professors who enabled those abuses under the banner of the financial theory known as the efficient market hypothesis . Paul Krugman, The New York Times Book Review , 9 Aug. 2009

Incorrect Interpretations of "Theory"

Since this casual use does away with the distinctions upheld by the scientific community, hypothesis and theory are prone to being wrongly interpreted even when they are encountered in scientific contexts—or at least, contexts that allude to scientific study without making the critical distinction that scientists employ when weighing hypotheses and theories.

The most common occurrence is when theory is interpreted—and sometimes even gleefully seized upon—to mean something having less truth value than other scientific principles. (The word law applies to principles so firmly established that they are almost never questioned, such as the law of gravity.)

This mistake is one of projection: since we use theory in general use to mean something lightly speculated, then it's implied that scientists must be talking about the same level of uncertainty when they use theory to refer to their well-tested and reasoned principles.

The distinction has come to the forefront particularly on occasions when the content of science curricula in schools has been challenged—notably, when a school board in Georgia put stickers on textbooks stating that evolution was "a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things." As Kenneth R. Miller, a cell biologist at Brown University, has said , a theory "doesn’t mean a hunch or a guess. A theory is a system of explanations that ties together a whole bunch of facts. It not only explains those facts, but predicts what you ought to find from other observations and experiments.”

While theories are never completely infallible, they form the basis of scientific reasoning because, as Miller said "to the best of our ability, we’ve tested them, and they’ve held up."

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What is a scientific hypothesis?

It's the initial building block in the scientific method.

A girl looks at plants in a test tube for a science experiment. What's her scientific hypothesis?

Hypothesis basics

What makes a hypothesis testable.

  • Types of hypotheses
  • Hypothesis versus theory

Additional resources

Bibliography.

A scientific hypothesis is a tentative, testable explanation for a phenomenon in the natural world. It's the initial building block in the scientific method . Many describe it as an "educated guess" based on prior knowledge and observation. While this is true, a hypothesis is more informed than a guess. While an "educated guess" suggests a random prediction based on a person's expertise, developing a hypothesis requires active observation and background research. 

The basic idea of a hypothesis is that there is no predetermined outcome. For a solution to be termed a scientific hypothesis, it has to be an idea that can be supported or refuted through carefully crafted experimentation or observation. This concept, called falsifiability and testability, was advanced in the mid-20th century by Austrian-British philosopher Karl Popper in his famous book "The Logic of Scientific Discovery" (Routledge, 1959).

A key function of a hypothesis is to derive predictions about the results of future experiments and then perform those experiments to see whether they support the predictions.

A hypothesis is usually written in the form of an if-then statement, which gives a possibility (if) and explains what may happen because of the possibility (then). The statement could also include "may," according to California State University, Bakersfield .

Here are some examples of hypothesis statements:

  • If garlic repels fleas, then a dog that is given garlic every day will not get fleas.
  • If sugar causes cavities, then people who eat a lot of candy may be more prone to cavities.
  • If ultraviolet light can damage the eyes, then maybe this light can cause blindness.

A useful hypothesis should be testable and falsifiable. That means that it should be possible to prove it wrong. A theory that can't be proved wrong is nonscientific, according to Karl Popper's 1963 book " Conjectures and Refutations ."

An example of an untestable statement is, "Dogs are better than cats." That's because the definition of "better" is vague and subjective. However, an untestable statement can be reworded to make it testable. For example, the previous statement could be changed to this: "Owning a dog is associated with higher levels of physical fitness than owning a cat." With this statement, the researcher can take measures of physical fitness from dog and cat owners and compare the two.

Types of scientific hypotheses

In an experiment, researchers generally state their hypotheses in two ways. The null hypothesis predicts that there will be no relationship between the variables tested, or no difference between the experimental groups. The alternative hypothesis predicts the opposite: that there will be a difference between the experimental groups. This is usually the hypothesis scientists are most interested in, according to the University of Miami .

For example, a null hypothesis might state, "There will be no difference in the rate of muscle growth between people who take a protein supplement and people who don't." The alternative hypothesis would state, "There will be a difference in the rate of muscle growth between people who take a protein supplement and people who don't."

If the results of the experiment show a relationship between the variables, then the null hypothesis has been rejected in favor of the alternative hypothesis, according to the book " Research Methods in Psychology " (​​BCcampus, 2015). 

There are other ways to describe an alternative hypothesis. The alternative hypothesis above does not specify a direction of the effect, only that there will be a difference between the two groups. That type of prediction is called a two-tailed hypothesis. If a hypothesis specifies a certain direction — for example, that people who take a protein supplement will gain more muscle than people who don't — it is called a one-tailed hypothesis, according to William M. K. Trochim , a professor of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University.

Sometimes, errors take place during an experiment. These errors can happen in one of two ways. A type I error is when the null hypothesis is rejected when it is true. This is also known as a false positive. A type II error occurs when the null hypothesis is not rejected when it is false. This is also known as a false negative, according to the University of California, Berkeley . 

A hypothesis can be rejected or modified, but it can never be proved correct 100% of the time. For example, a scientist can form a hypothesis stating that if a certain type of tomato has a gene for red pigment, that type of tomato will be red. During research, the scientist then finds that each tomato of this type is red. Though the findings confirm the hypothesis, there may be a tomato of that type somewhere in the world that isn't red. Thus, the hypothesis is true, but it may not be true 100% of the time.

Scientific theory vs. scientific hypothesis

The best hypotheses are simple. They deal with a relatively narrow set of phenomena. But theories are broader; they generally combine multiple hypotheses into a general explanation for a wide range of phenomena, according to the University of California, Berkeley . For example, a hypothesis might state, "If animals adapt to suit their environments, then birds that live on islands with lots of seeds to eat will have differently shaped beaks than birds that live on islands with lots of insects to eat." After testing many hypotheses like these, Charles Darwin formulated an overarching theory: the theory of evolution by natural selection.

"Theories are the ways that we make sense of what we observe in the natural world," Tanner said. "Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts." 

  • Read more about writing a hypothesis, from the American Medical Writers Association.
  • Find out why a hypothesis isn't always necessary in science, from The American Biology Teacher.
  • Learn about null and alternative hypotheses, from Prof. Essa on YouTube .

Encyclopedia Britannica. Scientific Hypothesis. Jan. 13, 2022. https://www.britannica.com/science/scientific-hypothesis

Karl Popper, "The Logic of Scientific Discovery," Routledge, 1959.

California State University, Bakersfield, "Formatting a testable hypothesis." https://www.csub.edu/~ddodenhoff/Bio100/Bio100sp04/formattingahypothesis.htm  

Karl Popper, "Conjectures and Refutations," Routledge, 1963.

Price, P., Jhangiani, R., & Chiang, I., "Research Methods of Psychology — 2nd Canadian Edition," BCcampus, 2015.‌

University of Miami, "The Scientific Method" http://www.bio.miami.edu/dana/161/evolution/161app1_scimethod.pdf  

William M.K. Trochim, "Research Methods Knowledge Base," https://conjointly.com/kb/hypotheses-explained/  

University of California, Berkeley, "Multiple Hypothesis Testing and False Discovery Rate" https://www.stat.berkeley.edu/~hhuang/STAT141/Lecture-FDR.pdf  

University of California, Berkeley, "Science at multiple levels" https://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/0_0_0/howscienceworks_19

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Research Method

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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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

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 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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Definition of hypothesis noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary

  • formulate/advance a theory/hypothesis
  • build/construct/create/develop a simple/theoretical/mathematical model
  • develop/establish/provide/use a theoretical/conceptual framework/an algorithm
  • advance/argue/develop the thesis that…
  • explore an idea/a concept/a hypothesis
  • make a prediction/an inference
  • base a prediction/your calculations on something
  • investigate/evaluate/accept/challenge/reject a theory/hypothesis/model
  • design an experiment/a questionnaire/a study/a test
  • do research/an experiment/an analysis
  • make observations/calculations
  • take/record measurements
  • carry out/conduct/perform an experiment/a test/a longitudinal study/observations/clinical trials
  • run an experiment/a simulation/clinical trials
  • repeat an experiment/a test/an analysis
  • replicate a study/the results/the findings
  • observe/study/examine/investigate/assess a pattern/a process/a behavior
  • fund/support the research/project/study
  • seek/provide/get/secure funding for research
  • collect/gather/extract data/information
  • yield data/evidence/similar findings/the same results
  • analyze/examine the data/soil samples/a specimen
  • consider/compare/interpret the results/findings
  • fit the data/model
  • confirm/support/verify a prediction/a hypothesis/the results/the findings
  • prove a conjecture/hypothesis/theorem
  • draw/make/reach the same conclusions
  • read/review the records/literature
  • describe/report an experiment/a study
  • present/publish/summarize the results/findings
  • present/publish/read/review/cite a paper in a scientific journal

Join our community to access the latest language learning and assessment tips from Oxford University Press!

  • 2 [ uncountable ] guesses and ideas that are not based on certain knowledge synonym speculation It would be pointless to engage in hypothesis before we have the facts.

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What is Hypothesis? Definition, Meaning, Characteristics, Sources

  • Post last modified: 10 January 2022
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  • Post category: Research Methodology

What is Hypothesis?

Hypothesis is a prediction of the outcome of a study. Hypotheses are drawn from theories and research questions or from direct observations. In fact, a research problem can be formulated as a hypothesis. To test the hypothesis we need to formulate it in terms that can actually be analysed with statistical tools.

As an example, if we want to explore whether using a specific teaching method at school will result in better school marks (research question), the hypothesis could be that the mean school marks of students being taught with that specific teaching method will be higher than of those being taught using other methods.

In this example, we stated a hypothesis about the expected differences between groups. Other hypotheses may refer to correlations between variables.

Table of Content

  • 1 What is Hypothesis?
  • 2 Hypothesis Definition
  • 3 Meaning of Hypothesis
  • 4.1 Conceptual Clarity
  • 4.2 Need of empirical referents
  • 4.3 Hypothesis should be specific
  • 4.4 Hypothesis should be within the ambit of the available research techniques
  • 4.5 Hypothesis should be consistent with the theory
  • 4.6 Hypothesis should be concerned with observable facts and empirical events
  • 4.7 Hypothesis should be simple
  • 5.1 Observation
  • 5.2 Analogies
  • 5.4 State of Knowledge
  • 5.5 Culture
  • 5.6 Continuity of Research
  • 6.1 Null Hypothesis
  • 6.2 Alternative Hypothesis

Thus, to formulate a hypothesis, we need to refer to the descriptive statistics (such as the mean final marks), and specify a set of conditions about these statistics (such as a difference between the means, or in a different example, a positive or negative correlation). The hypothesis we formulate applies to the population of interest.

The null hypothesis makes a statement that no difference exists (see Pyrczak, 1995, pp. 75-84).

Hypothesis Definition

A hypothesis is ‘a guess or supposition as to the existence of some fact or law which will serve to explain a connection of facts already known to exist.’ – J. E. Creighton & H. R. Smart

Hypothesis is ‘a proposition not known to be definitely true or false, examined for the sake of determining the consequences which would follow from its truth.’ – Max Black

Hypothesis is ‘a proposition which can be put to a test to determine validity and is useful for further research.’ – W. J. Goode and P. K. Hatt

A hypothesis is a proposition, condition or principle which is assumed, perhaps without belief, in order to draw out its logical consequences and by this method to test its accord with facts which are known or may be determined. – Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language (1956)

Meaning of Hypothesis

From the above mentioned definitions of hypothesis, its meaning can be explained in the following ways.

  • At the primary level, a hypothesis is the possible and probable explanation of the sequence of happenings or data.
  • Sometimes, hypothesis may emerge from an imagination, common sense or a sudden event.
  • Hypothesis can be a probable answer to the research problem undertaken for study. 4. Hypothesis may not always be true. It can get disproven. In other words, hypothesis need not always be a true proposition.
  • Hypothesis, in a sense, is an attempt to present the interrelations that exist in the available data or information.
  • Hypothesis is not an individual opinion or community thought. Instead, it is a philosophical means which is to be used for research purpose. Hypothesis is not to be considered as the ultimate objective; rather it is to be taken as the means of explaining scientifically the prevailing situation.

The concept of hypothesis can further be explained with the help of some examples. Lord Keynes, in his theory of national income determination, made a hypothesis about the consumption function. He stated that the consumption expenditure of an individual or an economy as a whole is dependent on the level of income and changes in a certain proportion.

Later, this proposition was proved in the statistical research carried out by Prof. Simon Kuznets. Matthus, while studying the population, formulated a hypothesis that population increases faster than the supply of food grains. Population studies of several countries revealed that this hypothesis is true.

Validation of the Malthus’ hypothesis turned it into a theory and when it was tested in many other countries it became the famous Malthus’ Law of Population. It thus emerges that when a hypothesis is tested and proven, it becomes a theory. The theory, when found true in different times and at different places, becomes the law. Having understood the concept of hypothesis, few hypotheses can be formulated in the areas of commerce and economics.

  • Population growth moderates with the rise in per capita income.
  • Sales growth is positively linked with the availability of credit.
  • Commerce education increases the employability of the graduate students.
  • High rates of direct taxes prompt people to evade taxes.
  • Good working conditions improve the productivity of employees.
  • Advertising is the most effecting way of promoting sales than any other scheme.
  • Higher Debt-Equity Ratio increases the probability of insolvency.
  • Economic reforms in India have made the public sector banks more efficient and competent.
  • Foreign direct investment in India has moved in those sectors which offer higher rate of profit.
  • There is no significant association between credit rating and investment of fund.

Characteristics of Hypothesis

Not all the hypotheses are good and useful from the point of view of research. It is only a few hypotheses satisfying certain criteria that are good, useful and directive in the research work undertaken. The characteristics of such a useful hypothesis can be listed as below:

Conceptual Clarity

Need of empirical referents, hypothesis should be specific, hypothesis should be within the ambit of the available research techniques, hypothesis should be consistent with the theory, hypothesis should be concerned with observable facts and empirical events, hypothesis should be simple.

The concepts used while framing hypothesis should be crystal clear and unambiguous. Such concepts must be clearly defined so that they become lucid and acceptable to everyone. How are the newly developed concepts interrelated and how are they linked with the old one is to be very clear so that the hypothesis framed on their basis also carries the same clarity.

A hypothesis embodying unclear and ambiguous concepts can to a great extent undermine the successful completion of the research work.

A hypothesis can be useful in the research work undertaken only when it has links with some empirical referents. Hypothesis based on moral values and ideals are useless as they cannot be tested. Similarly, hypothesis containing opinions as good and bad or expectation with respect to something are not testable and therefore useless.

For example, ‘current account deficit can be lowered if people change their attitude towards gold’ is a hypothesis encompassing expectation. In case of such a hypothesis, the attitude towards gold is something which cannot clearly be described and therefore a hypothesis which embodies such an unclean thing cannot be tested and proved or disproved. In short, the hypothesis should be linked with some testable referents.

For the successful conduction of research, it is necessary that the hypothesis is specific and presented in a precise manner. Hypothesis which is general, too ambitious and grandiose in scope is not to be made as such hypothesis cannot be easily put to test. A hypothesis is to be based on such concepts which are precise and empirical in nature. A hypothesis should give a clear idea about the indicators which are to be used.

For example, a hypothesis that economic power is increasingly getting concentrated in a few hands in India should enable us to define the concept of economic power. It should be explicated in terms of measurable indicator like income, wealth, etc. Such specificity in the formulation of a hypothesis ensures that the research is practicable and significant.

While framing the hypothesis, the researcher should be aware of the available research techniques and should see that the hypothesis framed is testable on the basis of them. In other words, a hypothesis should be researchable and for this it is important that a due thought has been given to the methods and techniques which can be used to measure the concepts and variables embodied in the hypothesis.

It does not however mean that hypotheses which are not testable with the available techniques of research are not to be made. If the problem is too significant and therefore the hypothesis framed becomes too ambitious and complex, it’s testing becomes possible with the development of new research techniques or the hypothesis itself leads to the development of new research techniques.

A hypothesis must be related to the existing theory or should have a theoretical orientation. The growth of knowledge takes place in the sequence of facts, hypothesis, theory and law or principles. It means the hypothesis should have a correspondence with the existing facts and theory.

If the hypothesis is related to some theory, the research work will enable us to support, modify or refute the existing theory. Theoretical orientation of the hypothesis ensures that it becomes scientifically useful. According to Prof. Goode and Prof. Hatt, research work can contribute to the existing knowledge only when the hypothesis is related with some theory.

This enables us to explain the observed facts and situations and also verify the framed hypothesis. In the words of Prof. Cohen and Prof. Nagel, “hypothesis must be formulated in such a manner that deduction can be made from it and that consequently a decision can be reached as to whether it does or does not explain the facts considered.”

If the research work based on a hypothesis is to be successful, it is necessary that the later is as simple and easy as possible. An ambition of finding out something new may lead the researcher to frame an unrealistic and unclear hypothesis. Such a temptation is to be avoided. Framing a simple, easy and testable hypothesis requires that the researcher is well acquainted with the related concepts.

Sources of Hypothesis

Hypotheses can be derived from various sources. Some of the sources is given below:

Observation

State of knowledge, continuity of research.

Hypotheses can be derived from observation from the observation of price behavior in a market. For example the relationship between the price and demand for an article is hypothesized.

Analogies are another source of useful hypotheses. Julian Huxley has pointed out that casual observations in nature or in the framework of another science may be a fertile source of hypotheses. For example, the hypotheses that similar human types or activities may be found in similar geophysical regions come from plant ecology.

This is one of the main sources of hypotheses. It gives direction to research by stating what is known logical deduction from theory lead to new hypotheses. For example, profit / wealth maximization is considered as the goal of private enterprises. From this assumption various hypotheses are derived’.

An important source of hypotheses is the state of knowledge in any particular science where formal theories exist hypotheses can be deduced. If the hypotheses are rejected theories are scarce hypotheses are generated from conception frameworks.

Another source of hypotheses is the culture on which the researcher was nurtured. Western culture has induced the emergence of sociology as an academic discipline over the past decade, a large part of the hypotheses on American society examined by researchers were connected with violence. This interest is related to the considerable increase in the level of violence in America.

The continuity of research in a field itself constitutes an important source of hypotheses. The rejection of some hypotheses leads to the formulation of new ones capable of explaining dependent variables in subsequent research on the same subject.

Null and Alternative Hypothesis

Null hypothesis.

The hypothesis that are proposed with the intent of receiving a rejection for them are called Null Hypothesis . This requires that we hypothesize the opposite of what is desired to be proved. For example, if we want to show that sales and advertisement expenditure are related, we formulate the null hypothesis that they are not related.

Similarly, if we want to conclude that the new sales training programme is effective, we formulate the null hypothesis that the new training programme is not effective, and if we want to prove that the average wages of skilled workers in town 1 is greater than that of town 2, we formulate the null hypotheses that there is no difference in the average wages of the skilled workers in both the towns.

Since we hypothesize that sales and advertisement are not related, new training programme is not effective and the average wages of skilled workers in both the towns are equal, we call such hypotheses null hypotheses and denote them as H 0 .

Alternative Hypothesis

Rejection of null hypotheses leads to the acceptance of alternative hypothesis . The rejection of null hypothesis indicates that the relationship between variables (e.g., sales and advertisement expenditure) or the difference between means (e.g., wages of skilled workers in town 1 and town 2) or the difference between proportions have statistical significance and the acceptance of the null hypotheses indicates that these differences are due to chance.

As already mentioned, the alternative hypotheses specify that values/relation which the researcher believes hold true. The alternative hypotheses can cover a whole range of values rather than a single point. The alternative hypotheses are denoted by H 1 .

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  • Scientific Methods

What is Hypothesis?

We have heard of many hypotheses which have led to great inventions in science. Assumptions that are made on the basis of some evidence are known as hypotheses. In this article, let us learn in detail about the hypothesis and the type of hypothesis with examples.

A hypothesis is an assumption that is made based on some evidence. This is the initial point of any investigation that translates the research questions into predictions. It includes components like variables, population and the relation between the variables. A research hypothesis is a hypothesis that is used to test the relationship between two or more variables.

Characteristics of Hypothesis

Following are the characteristics of the hypothesis:

  • The hypothesis should be clear and precise to consider it to be reliable.
  • If the hypothesis is a relational hypothesis, then it should be stating the relationship between variables.
  • The hypothesis must be specific and should have scope for conducting more tests.
  • The way of explanation of the hypothesis must be very simple and it should also be understood that the simplicity of the hypothesis is not related to its significance.

Sources of Hypothesis

Following are the sources of hypothesis:

  • The resemblance between the phenomenon.
  • Observations from past studies, present-day experiences and from the competitors.
  • Scientific theories.
  • General patterns that influence the thinking process of people.

Types of Hypothesis

There are six forms of hypothesis and they are:

  • Simple hypothesis
  • Complex hypothesis
  • Directional hypothesis
  • Non-directional hypothesis
  • Null hypothesis
  • Associative and casual hypothesis

Simple Hypothesis

It shows a relationship between one dependent variable and a single independent variable. For example – If you eat more vegetables, you will lose weight faster. Here, eating more vegetables is an independent variable, while losing weight is the dependent variable.

Complex Hypothesis

It shows the relationship between two or more dependent variables and two or more independent variables. Eating more vegetables and fruits leads to weight loss, glowing skin, and reduces the risk of many diseases such as heart disease.

Directional Hypothesis

It shows how a researcher is intellectual and committed to a particular outcome. The relationship between the variables can also predict its nature. For example- children aged four years eating proper food over a five-year period are having higher IQ levels than children not having a proper meal. This shows the effect and direction of the effect.

Non-directional Hypothesis

It is used when there is no theory involved. It is a statement that a relationship exists between two variables, without predicting the exact nature (direction) of the relationship.

Null Hypothesis

It provides a statement which is contrary to the hypothesis. It’s a negative statement, and there is no relationship between independent and dependent variables. The symbol is denoted by “H O ”.

Associative and Causal Hypothesis

Associative hypothesis occurs when there is a change in one variable resulting in a change in the other variable. Whereas, the causal hypothesis proposes a cause and effect interaction between two or more variables.

Examples of Hypothesis

Following are the examples of hypotheses based on their types:

  • Consumption of sugary drinks every day leads to obesity is an example of a simple hypothesis.
  • All lilies have the same number of petals is an example of a null hypothesis.
  • If a person gets 7 hours of sleep, then he will feel less fatigue than if he sleeps less. It is an example of a directional hypothesis.

Functions of Hypothesis

Following are the functions performed by the hypothesis:

  • Hypothesis helps in making an observation and experiments possible.
  • It becomes the start point for the investigation.
  • Hypothesis helps in verifying the observations.
  • It helps in directing the inquiries in the right direction.

How will Hypothesis help in the Scientific Method?

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

  • Formation of question
  • Doing background research
  • Creation of hypothesis
  • Designing an experiment
  • Collection of data
  • Result analysis
  • Summarizing the experiment
  • Communicating the results

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

What is hypothesis.

A hypothesis is an assumption made based on some evidence.

Give an example of simple hypothesis?

What are the types of hypothesis.

Types of hypothesis are:

  • Associative and Casual hypothesis

State true or false: Hypothesis is the initial point of any investigation that translates the research questions into a prediction.

Define complex hypothesis..

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

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  • Knowledge Base

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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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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A poll found 1 in 5 believe in a covert Taylor Swift effort to help Biden win. What does that mean?

The majority of respondents who believe the swift-biden theory are republicans and plan to vote for trump..

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A January Fox News segment promoted the  bubbling conspiracy theory  that singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is a government operative whose mission is bolstering President Joe Biden’s reelection chances. Now a poll shows a significant percentage of Americans are buying the false claim.

Monmouth University Polling Institute’s mid-February survey of 902 adults found that nearly 1 in 5 Americans believed the Swift-psyop theory. The telephone polling overlapped with the Feb. 11 Super Bowl in Las Vegas, which Swift attended to watch her boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce.

“Even many who hadn’t heard about it before we polled them accept the idea as credible,” Patrick Murray, the Monmouth pollster who directed the survey,  said  in an announcement about the poll results. It has “legs among a decent number of Trump supporters.”

The poll results drew significant media attention. But as fact-checkers, we had questions. How meaningful is any poll when asking about a conspiracy theory? How much room do poll respondents have to fill in the blanks about how far the conspiracy stretches? And could support for the theory simply be standing in for disdain for Biden, Swift or both?

In January,  The New York Times  reported that unnamed Biden aides were dreaming of a Swift endorsement. (Swift  endorsed Biden in 2020 .) But there is no evidence that Biden or his allies are manipulating government resources to produce a renewed endorsement this year.

“A lot more research would have to be done to tease apart all of the contributors to support for the Swift covert ops conspiracy,” said Jesse H. Rhodes, a University of Massachusetts-Amherst political scientist and co-director of the UMass poll. “I think the main point is that there are many contributors to apparent support for this conspiracy, and not all of them reflect genuine, heartfelt endorsement of the conspiracy (theory) itself.”

The poll found largely Republicans believed the Swift-Biden theory

In the Monmouth poll,  respondents were asked  whether they had heard of Swift (only 5% had not) and, if so, whether they viewed her favorably or unfavorably (39% favorable, 13% unfavorable and the balance no opinion). The poll also asked whether they considered themselves hard-core “Swifties” (only 6%). Respondents were also asked their view on Swift encouraging people to vote in the presidential election (68% approved).

Later in the poll, 46% of respondents said they had heard of the theory that Swift is part of a covert government effort to help Joe Biden win.

Then the pollsters asked, “Do you think that a covert government effort for Taylor Swift to help Joe Biden win the presidential election actually exists, or not?” The poll did not define that alleged “covert government effort” and did not ask respondents follow-up questions that would clarify their views about such theory.

About 1 in 5 – 18% – said yes.  About 71%  of those who believed this identify with or lean toward the Republican Party and 83% said they are likely to support Donald Trump in the fall, the polling institute said. The poll had a sampling margin of error of about plus or minus 4 percentage points, meaning that results like the 18% figure could be from four points lower to four points higher.

Paradoxically, 42% of poll respondents who said the conspiracy exists also said they had not heard about it before Monmouth’s pollsters asked them about it.

A segment of the population may be primed to believe in various conspiracy theories

Previous polling has shown that a nontrivial segment of the American public believes in conspiracy theories.

Monmouth  polling  from 2018 found that a majority said the “Deep State,” a purported group of unelected government and military officials who secretly direct or manipulate national policy, “probably” or “definitely” exists. In 2010, PolitiFact gave a  Pants on Fire  to the claim supported by 18% of the population, that then-President Barack Obama was Muslim, a finding a Pew Research Center poll had recently recorded.

Murray said that, in any polling, some respondents give an answer that “aligns with a pre-existing attitudinal pattern.” However, the Swift psyop theory offers especially strong evidence of that.

Among Republicans and Republican-leaning respondents who had preexisting knowledge of the story, Murray said,  42% said the conspiracy exists .

Also, nearly three-quarters (73%) of poll respondents who said they believed the theory about Swift also said they believed the 2020 election outcome was fraudulent. PolitiFact has repeatedly debunked statements that the 2020 election was  stolen  or  rigged  or that  Biden’s win was illegitimate .

“There always seems to be a segment of the public that believes in conspiracy theories,” said Karlyn Bowman, a polling analyst at the American Enterprise Institute. “I’ve always wondered if people who answer these questions are true believers, soft believers, or are just teasing the pollsters. We don’t know how deeply people hold these beliefs.”

In a 2013  article , Bowman wrote that substantial survey data signaled that “skepticism about the federal government’s power and reach is deep. It seems that whenever pollsters use the words ‘government’ and ‘cover-up,’ a substantial number respond in the affirmative.”

The University of Massachusetts’ Rhodes agreed that suspicions of the federal government are widespread, pointing to persistent conspiracy theories about President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“The Swift covert op conspiracy shares characteristics of other conspiracy theories in that it features a narrative of powerful actors using shadowy methods to shape politics and manipulate the public,” Rhodes said. “Because the Swift conspiracy partakes of narrative forms common to conspiracy theories in general, people who tend to believe in conspiracy theories might gravitate to this one.”

Could the Swift conspiracy reflect anti-Biden sentiment more than the conspiracy itself?

Rhodes suggested that some respondents may not believe the conspiracy theory’s specifics but said they agreed with it because they distrust the government or dislike Biden or Swift.

“This conspiracy theory is a way of expressing negative sentiment toward Biden, Swift, the federal government, or all of the above,” said Rhodes, who said social scientists call this phenomenon “expressive responding.’

Other poll respondents could have said they believe the theory because they were reacting to a sentiment shared on conservative media that coverage of Swift and Kelce shifted the Super Bowl focus away from football.

“There are many contributors to apparent support for this conspiracy, and not all of them reflect genuine, heartfelt endorsement of the conspiracy itself,” Rhodes said.

Also playing into support for the Swift conspiracy theory could be sentiment that celebrities should stay out of politics, Bowman said.  A recent Economist/YouGov poll  showed that 48% of respondents want Taylor Swift to not speak publicly about politics.

This fact check was originally published by PolitiFact , which is part of the Poynter Institute. See the sources for this fact check here .

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Scientists suggest our universe is merging with ‘baby universes’ as possible theory of expansion

Astronomers have proposed a new theory to suggest why our universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. 

That our universe is expanding, is in wide agreement, though how exactly that process happens is not as well understood. Scientists believe that an elusive substance called " dark energy " is responsible for driving the expansion.

But the very existence of dark matter is only ever discussed in the context of an expanding universe, leading some to question whether there are other causes of expansion. 

A study published in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics, proposed that the universe’s expansion is driven by merging with smaller, "baby" universes. 

The study’s lead author, Jan Ambjørn, told LiveScience that the study’s main finding, was that the "accelerated expansion of our universe, caused by the mysterious dark energy, might have a simple intuitive explanation, the merging with so-called baby universes, and that a model for this might fit data better than the standard cosmological model." 

NASA GOES OLD SCHOOL WITH ROCKET SENDING ASTRONAUTS TO THE MOON

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The "Standard Cosmological Model," is the main theory of cosmic evolution, that the universe began with the Big Bang , went through a near-exponential inflation at early times, and has been expanding ever since. 

While the latest study is by no means the first to propose the idea of multiple universes, it offers a mathematical model to show how merging with other, smaller universes might expand our universe. 

By quantifying the rate of expansion, their calculations more closely aligned with observations of the universe than the Standard Cosmological Model. 

The researchers also suggested that early cosmological inflation – the quick, rapid expansion of our universe after the Big Bang – may have been caused by our young universe colliding with a larger universe. 

They proposed that after this possible absorption, it is likely that our, now-larger universe carried on to collide with and absorb other "baby" universes.  

Original article source: Scientists suggest our universe is merging with ‘baby universes’ as possible theory of expansion

A star-forming region of ionised hydrogen gas in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small galaxy which neighbours the Milky Way. NASA/ESA

How everything became a ‘psyop’ for conservative media

It’s not just taylor swift. right-wing pundits are branding everything from climate change to the hunter biden case a ‘psyop,’ though the conspiracy-tinged phrase is losing grip on an actual definition.

hypothesis of something meaning

Lately, it’s become popular in conservative media circles to brand certain things as a psychological operation, or “psyop.”

Climate change, for example. Or covid. Or the media coverage of Donald Trump . Or even the prosecution of Hunter Biden.

Technically, “psyop” is a U.S. military term, referring to various kinds of campaigns to get inside the heads of adversaries. In a classic psychological operation during the Vietnam War, the U.S. government blasted messages over loudspeakers that were meant to urge Viet Cong soldiers to defect. Ahead of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, it was millions of leaflets dropped on cities to undermine support for then-President Saddam Hussein. “Who needs you more? Your family or the regime?” one flier asked.

But conservative media personalities have begun using the term in vaguer and wilder ways, seemingly to allege government conspiracies targeted at American citizens — something that would be illegal, even if any of these theories were remotely plausible.

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Actual experts in real-life psyops are unconvinced by this latest wave of claims.

“Most people realize it’s just baloney,” said Herbert A. Friedman, a retired sergeant major who worked in psychological operations for the Army.

Fox News host Jesse Watters is perhaps the most influential superspreader of the term. In January, Watters used a just-asking-questions formula to suggest that Taylor Swift is a psyop asset of the Defense Department. How so? He didn’t exactly connect the dots for viewers, but he did note that Swift, who endorsed Joe Biden in 2020, had urged her fans to vote.

The Pentagon shot it down with a punny statement: “As for this conspiracy theory, we are going to shake it off.”

How the MAGA-fed Taylor Swift conspiracy theories caught fire

Watters acknowledged that his show “obviously has no evidence” for the claim, but he tied it tangentially to a comment made at a 2019 NATO cybersecurity conference, where a speaker mentioned Swift’s social media influence. However, the speaker never claimed that the pop star was a government asset, and the event was not held by the U.S. government.

On other occasions, Watters has seemed to repurpose the word into a fancy way to call something a myth or a falsehood or simply a sinister PR campaign he happens to disagree with. Last summer, he claimed that climate change is “a psyop against the American people by big business and the Democratic Party to worry you into giving you more of their money,” and separately referred to a “decades-long liberal media social psyop that marriage is a broken and dated institution.”

In November, though, it was an even murkier argument about how “control freaks” in the FBI and liberal-leaning Twitter employees constituted an anti-Trump psyop of some kind — though he not only presented no evidence, but he also failed to explain what any of that meant.

Watters’s Fox News colleague Greg Gutfeld has also expressed concern about psyops. In November, he asked panelists on his nightly show whether media coverage of Trump’s potential second term is a “psyop,” though he acknowledged, “I hate using that word, because it puts you in a conspiracy realm.” Nonetheless, a month later, he declared on the panel show “The Five” that social media is a “psyop.”

In appearances in late December, Fox News host Rachel Campos-Duffy spoke of both “the trans psyop” and “the covid psyop” but without any context or explanation of what these things are supposed to mean.

The fact that none of these personalities seems particularly committed to any firm definition of the word may be the point.

“It has connotations of malign influence, and so it’s a scary word they can use to negatively brand the things they want to negatively brand,” said Todd C. Helmus, a senior behavioral scientist at RAND.

The term is also popular on two conservative cable-news channels that have tried to outflank Fox. Newsmax anchor Rob Schmitt recently referred to the federal indictments against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Hunter Biden and a federal investigation into Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) as a “psyop” to “dupe everybody” into thinking that the criminal charges against Trump are “somehow normal and credible and not strange.” In late January, a host on One America News said that sexually explicit artificial-intelligence-generated images of Swift that circulated online are “another psyop.” A few days earlier, conservative activist Charlie Kirk, who hosts a show on Salem Radio, said he doesn’t really watch movies “because they’re all CIA psychological operation programming.”

Mike Rothschild, an expert in conspiracy theories who wrote a book on QAnon, sees a profit motive in conservative media’s use of the term, which he said is on the rise.

“There’s a desperate need to get people churning through content and terrified of things they don’t understand or don’t know much about it,” he said.

The cynical genius of calling something a “psyop” is that such accusations “don’t really need to have any evidence, because there’s not going to be any evidence: It’s a secret operation.”

A poll released by Monmouth University last week suggests that at least one so-called “psyop” claim is catching on, with 18 percent of Americans saying that they believe in the existence of “a covert government effort for Taylor Swift to help Joe Biden win the presidential election.”

Helmus said he expects the term to continue being used widely in conservative media, even though it does not align with the actual meaning of the term.

“The problem with these conspiracy theories is that they sound crazy to begin with, but they gain legs, and people will continue with them, and there will be people that believe it because there are always believers for these conspiracy theories.”

But, he added: “It would be good for Taylor Swift, and for truth in general, if they died out.”

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  • Former digital-media darling Vice to end website, lay off hundreds February 22, 2024 Former digital-media darling Vice to end website, lay off hundreds February 22, 2024

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‘Mea Culpa’ Review: Who’s Really to Blame, and for What?

The tagline of Tyler Perry’s new movie is “everyone’s guilty of something,” but the responsibility for this willfully steamy, decidedly silly thriller is all his.

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hypothesis of something meaning

By Lisa Kennedy

Is creating a guilty pleasure something a director can — or even should — aim for? That’s one of the questions wafting over the writer-director Tyler Perry’s willfully steamy thriller “Mea Culpa.”

Cast for sizzle, the movie stars the singer-actor Kelly Rowland as Mea Harper, a Chicago defense attorney, and Trevante Rhodes (“Moonlight”) as a successful painter accused of killing his girlfriend. Her body has yet to been found, but there were skull fragments in one of his paintings.

The assistant district attorney Ray Hawthorne (Nick Sagar) hopes to leverage the case for a mayoral run. He’s also Mea’s brother-in-law. In the firm clutches of the matriarch Azalia (Kerry O’Malley), the Hawthornes are an ambitious clan who appear to have borrowed much of their dialogue from the daytime soaps of yore. Among Mea’s reasons for taking this case is the Hawthorne family’s condescension and the excessive deference her husband, Kal, (Sean Sagar) shows his mother. (In case the family isn’t close enough, the actors Sean and Nick Sagar are brothers.)

Rowland commits to the thankless task of playing a smart woman gone stupid. Rhodes can’t do much with Zyair, whose affect is more flat than seductive. Or, as Mea’s private investigator and friend Jimmy (RonReaco Lee, a bright spot) quips: Zyair’s either a great liar or a psychopath.

While the movie teases with its “is he or isn’t he a murderer?” quandary, the soundtrack boasts killer tunes, including Isaac Hayes’s cover of “Walk on By,” playing like a caution the first time Mea visits Zyair’s loft. The warning goes unheeded, and the two embark on a possibly dangerous and decidedly silly liaison, one that taps into spousal angst and features plenty of soft-core intrigue.

Mea Culpa Rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity, language, some violence and drug use. Running time: 2 hours. Watch on Netflix .

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Jennifer Lopez is back onscreen with “This Is Me … Now: A Love Story,” a cinematic accompaniment to her new album. “Here’s an entertainer determined to enter-freaking-tain,” Wesley Morris writes .

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Sign up for our Watching newsletter  to get recommendations on the best films and TV shows to stream and watch, delivered to your inbox.

Opinion | Sun’s shadowy photograph carries useful message…

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Opinion | Sun’s shadowy photograph carries useful message | READER COMMENTARY

Pedestrian walks through shadows near sunset in Baltimore.

I have to commend Baltimore Sun photographer Lloyd Fox for his recent shot of a pedestrian walking along St. Paul Street as the sun begins to set in Baltimore ( “Picturing Maryland: A photo every day in 2024,” Feb. 22).

The photo creates the illusion of a steep abyss as a Baltimorean walks through it. The irony is that Baltimore itself is struggling to “get to the other side” with life still intact. Thank you, Lloyd Fox, for a spellbinding photograph.

— Patrick R. Lynch, Towson

Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by  submitting your own letter .

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COMMENTS

  1. Hypothesis Definition & Meaning

    A hypothesis is an assumption, an idea that is proposed for the sake of argument so that it can be tested to see if it might be true. In the scientific method, the hypothesis is constructed before any applicable research has been done, apart from a basic background review.

  2. HYPOTHESIS

    an idea or explanation for something that is based on known facts but has not yet been proved: Several hypotheses for global warming have been suggested. SMART Vocabulary: related words and phrases Ideas, concepts and theories abstract abstraction afterthought anthropocentrism anti-Darwinian Dianetics exceptionalism foundation stone

  3. HYPOTHESIS

    an idea or explanation for something that is based on known facts but has not yet been proved: Several hypotheses for global warming have been suggested. SMART Vocabulary: related words and phrases Ideas, concepts and theories abstract abstraction afterthought anthropocentrism anti-Darwinian Dianetics exceptionalism foundation stone

  4. Hypothesis

    a tentative insight into the natural world; a concept that is not yet verified but that if true would explain certain facts or phenomena "a scientific hypothesis that survives experimental testing becomes a scientific theory" synonyms: possibility, theory see more noun a proposal intended to explain certain facts or observations see more noun

  5. What Is a Hypothesis? The Scientific Method

    A hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation for an observation. The definition depends on the subject. In science, a hypothesis is part of the scientific method. It is a prediction or explanation that is tested by an experiment. Observations and experiments may disprove a scientific hypothesis, but can never entirely prove one.

  6. Scientific hypothesis

    scientific hypothesis, an idea that proposes a tentative explanation about a phenomenon or a narrow set of phenomena observed in the natural world.

  7. hypothesis noun

    /haɪˈpɑːθəsiːz/ ) [countable] 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 synonym theory to formulate/confirm a hypothesis a hypothesis about the function of dreams There is little evidence to support these hypotheses. see also null hypothesis, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

  8. Hypothesis

    A hypothesis ( pl.: hypotheses) is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. For a hypothesis to be a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can test it. Scientists generally base scientific hypotheses on previous observations that cannot satisfactorily be explained with the available scientific theories.

  9. HYPOTHESIS definition

    noun [ C ] uk / haɪˈpɒθəsɪs / us plural hypotheses / haɪˈpɒθəsiːz / Add to word list a suggested explanation for something that has not yet been proved to be true (Definition of hypothesis from the Cambridge Learner's Dictionary © Cambridge University Press) Translations of hypothesis in Chinese (Traditional) 假設,假說… See more in Chinese (Simplified)

  10. What Is A Research Hypothesis? A Simple Definition

    Hypothesis: an idea or explanation for something that is based on known facts but has not yet been proved. In other words, it's a statement that provides an explanation for why or how something works, based on facts (or some reasonable assumptions), but that has not yet been specifically tested.

  11. How to Write a Great Hypothesis

    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.

  12. Hypothesis vs. Theory: The Difference Explained

    A hypothesis is an assumption made before any research has been done. It is formed so that it can be tested to see if it might be true. A theory is a principle formed to explain the things already shown in data. Because of the rigors of experiment and control, it is much more likely that a theory will be true than a hypothesis.

  13. How to Write a Strong Hypothesis

    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. Example: Hypothesis Daily apple consumption leads to fewer doctor's visits. Table of contents What is a hypothesis?

  14. What is a scientific hypothesis?

    Bibliography A scientific hypothesis is a tentative, testable explanation for a phenomenon in the natural world. It's the initial building block in the scientific method. Many describe it as an...

  15. 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.

  16. What is a hypothesis?

    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 ...

  17. What Are Examples of a Hypothesis?

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

  18. Research Hypothesis In Psychology: Types, & 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. Hypotheses connect theory to data and guide the research process towards expanding scientific understanding.

  19. hypothesis noun

    [countable] 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 synonym theory to formulate/confirm a hypothesis a hypothesis about the function of dreams There is little evidence to support these hypotheses. Topic Collocations Definitions on the go

  20. What Is Hypothesis? Definition, Meaning, Test, Formulation

    Hypothesis is a proposition which can be put to a test to determine validity and is useful for further research. Hypothesis is a statement which can be proved or disproved. It is a statement capable of being tested. In a sense, hypothesis is a question which definitely has an answer.

  21. What Is Hypothesis? Definition, Meaning, Characteristics, Sources

    Hypothesis is a prediction of the outcome of a study. Hypotheses are drawn from theories and research questions or from direct observations. In fact, a research problem can be formulated as a hypothesis. To test the hypothesis we need to formulate it in terms that can actually be analysed with statistical tools.

  22. What is Hypothesis

    If the hypothesis is a relational hypothesis, then it should be stating the relationship between variables. The hypothesis must be specific and should have scope for conducting more tests. The way of explanation of the hypothesis must be very simple and it should also be understood that the simplicity of the hypothesis is not related to its ...

  23. Hypothesis Testing

    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. ... Stating results in a statistics assignment In our comparison of mean height between men and women we found an average difference ...

  24. A poll found 1 in 5 believe in a covert Taylor Swift effort to help

    A January Fox News segment promoted the bubbling conspiracy theory that singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is a government operative whose mission is bolstering President Joe Biden's reelection ...

  25. Scientists suggest our universe is merging with 'baby universes' as

    A new theory published late last year is offering an explanation as to why our universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. ... The "Standard Cosmological Model," is the main theory of cosmic ...

  26. 'Psyop' is everywhere in conservative media but what does it mean

    Lately, it's become popular in conservative media circles to brand certain things as a psychological operation, or "psyop." Climate change, for example. Or covid. Or the media coverage of ...

  27. 'Mea Culpa' Review: Who's Really to Blame, and for What?

    The tagline of Tyler Perry's new movie is "everyone's guilty of something," but the responsibility for this willfully steamy, decidedly silly thriller is all his.

  28. Photo of city pedestrian carries greater meaning.

    Kudos to Lloyd Fox for turning something ordinary into something approaching spellbinding.