Logo for Portland State University Pressbooks

Want to create or adapt books like this? Learn more about how Pressbooks supports open publishing practices.

Developing a Hypothesis

Rajiv S. Jhangiani; I-Chant A. Chiang; Carrie Cuttler; and Dana C. Leighton

Learning Objectives

  • Distinguish between a theory and a hypothesis.
  • Discover how theories are used to generate hypotheses and how the results of studies can be used to further inform theories.
  • Understand the characteristics of a good hypothesis.

Theories and Hypotheses

Before describing how to develop a hypothesis, it is important to distinguish between a theory and a hypothesis. A  theory  is a coherent explanation or interpretation of one or more phenomena. Although theories can take a variety of forms, one thing they have in common is that they go beyond the phenomena they explain by including variables, structures, processes, functions, or organizing principles that have not been observed directly. Consider, for example, Zajonc’s theory of social facilitation and social inhibition (1965) [1] . He proposed that being watched by others while performing a task creates a general state of physiological arousal, which increases the likelihood of the dominant (most likely) response. So for highly practiced tasks, being watched increases the tendency to make correct responses, but for relatively unpracticed tasks, being watched increases the tendency to make incorrect responses. Notice that this theory—which has come to be called drive theory—provides an explanation of both social facilitation and social inhibition that goes beyond the phenomena themselves by including concepts such as “arousal” and “dominant response,” along with processes such as the effect of arousal on the dominant response.

Outside of science, referring to an idea as a theory often implies that it is untested—perhaps no more than a wild guess. In science, however, the term theory has no such implication. A theory is simply an explanation or interpretation of a set of phenomena. It can be untested, but it can also be extensively tested, well supported, and accepted as an accurate description of the world by the scientific community. The theory of evolution by natural selection, for example, is a theory because it is an explanation of the diversity of life on earth—not because it is untested or unsupported by scientific research. On the contrary, the evidence for this theory is overwhelmingly positive and nearly all scientists accept its basic assumptions as accurate. Similarly, the “germ theory” of disease is a theory because it is an explanation of the origin of various diseases, not because there is any doubt that many diseases are caused by microorganisms that infect the body.

A  hypothesis , on the other hand, is a specific prediction about a new phenomenon that should be observed if a particular theory is accurate. It is an explanation that relies on just a few key concepts. Hypotheses are often specific predictions about what will happen in a particular study. They are developed by considering existing evidence and using reasoning to infer what will happen in the specific context of interest. Hypotheses are often but not always derived from theories. So a hypothesis is often a prediction based on a theory but some hypotheses are a-theoretical and only after a set of observations have been made, is a theory developed. This is because theories are broad in nature and they explain larger bodies of data. So if our research question is really original then we may need to collect some data and make some observations before we can develop a broader theory.

Theories and hypotheses always have this  if-then  relationship. “ If   drive theory is correct,  then  cockroaches should run through a straight runway faster, and a branching runway more slowly, when other cockroaches are present.” Although hypotheses are usually expressed as statements, they can always be rephrased as questions. “Do cockroaches run through a straight runway faster when other cockroaches are present?” Thus deriving hypotheses from theories is an excellent way of generating interesting research questions.

But how do researchers derive hypotheses from theories? One way is to generate a research question using the techniques discussed in this chapter  and then ask whether any theory implies an answer to that question. For example, you might wonder whether expressive writing about positive experiences improves health as much as expressive writing about traumatic experiences. Although this  question  is an interesting one  on its own, you might then ask whether the habituation theory—the idea that expressive writing causes people to habituate to negative thoughts and feelings—implies an answer. In this case, it seems clear that if the habituation theory is correct, then expressive writing about positive experiences should not be effective because it would not cause people to habituate to negative thoughts and feelings. A second way to derive hypotheses from theories is to focus on some component of the theory that has not yet been directly observed. For example, a researcher could focus on the process of habituation—perhaps hypothesizing that people should show fewer signs of emotional distress with each new writing session.

Among the very best hypotheses are those that distinguish between competing theories. For example, Norbert Schwarz and his colleagues considered two theories of how people make judgments about themselves, such as how assertive they are (Schwarz et al., 1991) [2] . Both theories held that such judgments are based on relevant examples that people bring to mind. However, one theory was that people base their judgments on the  number  of examples they bring to mind and the other was that people base their judgments on how  easily  they bring those examples to mind. To test these theories, the researchers asked people to recall either six times when they were assertive (which is easy for most people) or 12 times (which is difficult for most people). Then they asked them to judge their own assertiveness. Note that the number-of-examples theory implies that people who recalled 12 examples should judge themselves to be more assertive because they recalled more examples, but the ease-of-examples theory implies that participants who recalled six examples should judge themselves as more assertive because recalling the examples was easier. Thus the two theories made opposite predictions so that only one of the predictions could be confirmed. The surprising result was that participants who recalled fewer examples judged themselves to be more assertive—providing particularly convincing evidence in favor of the ease-of-retrieval theory over the number-of-examples theory.

Theory Testing

The primary way that scientific researchers use theories is sometimes called the hypothetico-deductive method  (although this term is much more likely to be used by philosophers of science than by scientists themselves). Researchers begin with a set of phenomena and either construct a theory to explain or interpret them or choose an existing theory to work with. They then make a prediction about some new phenomenon that should be observed if the theory is correct. Again, this prediction is called a hypothesis. The researchers then conduct an empirical study to test the hypothesis. Finally, they reevaluate the theory in light of the new results and revise it if necessary. This process is usually conceptualized as a cycle because the researchers can then derive a new hypothesis from the revised theory, conduct a new empirical study to test the hypothesis, and so on. As  Figure 2.3  shows, this approach meshes nicely with the model of scientific research in psychology presented earlier in the textbook—creating a more detailed model of “theoretically motivated” or “theory-driven” research.

what are the features of a good hypothesis (links to an external site )

As an example, let us consider Zajonc’s research on social facilitation and inhibition. He started with a somewhat contradictory pattern of results from the research literature. He then constructed his drive theory, according to which being watched by others while performing a task causes physiological arousal, which increases an organism’s tendency to make the dominant response. This theory predicts social facilitation for well-learned tasks and social inhibition for poorly learned tasks. He now had a theory that organized previous results in a meaningful way—but he still needed to test it. He hypothesized that if his theory was correct, he should observe that the presence of others improves performance in a simple laboratory task but inhibits performance in a difficult version of the very same laboratory task. To test this hypothesis, one of the studies he conducted used cockroaches as subjects (Zajonc, Heingartner, & Herman, 1969) [3] . The cockroaches ran either down a straight runway (an easy task for a cockroach) or through a cross-shaped maze (a difficult task for a cockroach) to escape into a dark chamber when a light was shined on them. They did this either while alone or in the presence of other cockroaches in clear plastic “audience boxes.” Zajonc found that cockroaches in the straight runway reached their goal more quickly in the presence of other cockroaches, but cockroaches in the cross-shaped maze reached their goal more slowly when they were in the presence of other cockroaches. Thus he confirmed his hypothesis and provided support for his drive theory. (Zajonc also showed that drive theory existed in humans [Zajonc & Sales, 1966] [4] in many other studies afterward).

Incorporating Theory into Your Research

When you write your research report or plan your presentation, be aware that there are two basic ways that researchers usually include theory. The first is to raise a research question, answer that question by conducting a new study, and then offer one or more theories (usually more) to explain or interpret the results. This format works well for applied research questions and for research questions that existing theories do not address. The second way is to describe one or more existing theories, derive a hypothesis from one of those theories, test the hypothesis in a new study, and finally reevaluate the theory. This format works well when there is an existing theory that addresses the research question—especially if the resulting hypothesis is surprising or conflicts with a hypothesis derived from a different theory.

To use theories in your research will not only give you guidance in coming up with experiment ideas and possible projects, but it lends legitimacy to your work. Psychologists have been interested in a variety of human behaviors and have developed many theories along the way. Using established theories will help you break new ground as a researcher, not limit you from developing your own ideas.

Characteristics of a Good Hypothesis

There are three general characteristics of a good hypothesis. First, a good hypothesis must be testable and falsifiable . We must be able to test the hypothesis using the methods of science and if you’ll recall Popper’s falsifiability criterion, it must be possible to gather evidence that will disconfirm the hypothesis if it is indeed false. Second, a good hypothesis must be logical. As described above, hypotheses are more than just a random guess. Hypotheses should be informed by previous theories or observations and logical reasoning. Typically, we begin with a broad and general theory and use  deductive reasoning to generate a more specific hypothesis to test based on that theory. Occasionally, however, when there is no theory to inform our hypothesis, we use  inductive reasoning  which involves using specific observations or research findings to form a more general hypothesis. Finally, the hypothesis should be positive. That is, the hypothesis should make a positive statement about the existence of a relationship or effect, rather than a statement that a relationship or effect does not exist. As scientists, we don’t set out to show that relationships do not exist or that effects do not occur so our hypotheses should not be worded in a way to suggest that an effect or relationship does not exist. The nature of science is to assume that something does not exist and then seek to find evidence to prove this wrong, to show that it really does exist. That may seem backward to you but that is the nature of the scientific method. The underlying reason for this is beyond the scope of this chapter but it has to do with statistical theory.

  • Zajonc, R. B. (1965). Social facilitation.  Science, 149 , 269–274 ↵
  • Schwarz, N., Bless, H., Strack, F., Klumpp, G., Rittenauer-Schatka, H., & Simons, A. (1991). Ease of retrieval as information: Another look at the availability heuristic.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61 , 195–202. ↵
  • Zajonc, R. B., Heingartner, A., & Herman, E. M. (1969). Social enhancement and impairment of performance in the cockroach.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 13 , 83–92. ↵
  • Zajonc, R.B. & Sales, S.M. (1966). Social facilitation of dominant and subordinate responses. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2 , 160-168. ↵

A coherent explanation or interpretation of one or more phenomena.

A specific prediction about a new phenomenon that should be observed if a particular theory is accurate.

A cyclical process of theory development, starting with an observed phenomenon, then developing or using a theory to make a specific prediction of what should happen if that theory is correct, testing that prediction, refining the theory in light of the findings, and using that refined theory to develop new hypotheses, and so on.

The ability to test the hypothesis using the methods of science and the possibility to gather evidence that will disconfirm the hypothesis if it is indeed false.

Developing a Hypothesis Copyright © 2022 by Rajiv S. Jhangiani; I-Chant A. Chiang; Carrie Cuttler; and Dana C. Leighton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book

5 Characteristics of a Good Hypothesis: A Guide for Researchers

  • by Brian Thomas
  • October 10, 2023

Are you a curious soul, always seeking answers to the whys and hows of the world? As a researcher, formulating a hypothesis is a crucial first step towards unraveling the mysteries of your study. A well-crafted hypothesis not only guides your research but also lays the foundation for drawing valid conclusions. But what exactly makes a hypothesis a good one? In this blog post, we will explore the five key characteristics of a good hypothesis that every researcher should know.

Here, we will delve into the world of hypotheses, covering everything from their types in research to understanding if they can be proven true. Whether you’re a seasoned researcher or just starting out, this blog post will provide valuable insights on how to craft a sound hypothesis for your study. So let’s dive in and uncover the secrets to formulating a hypothesis that stands strong amidst the scientific rigor!

(Keywords: characteristics of a good hypothesis, important characteristics of a good hypothesis quizlet, types of hypothesis in research, can a hypothesis be proven true, 6 parts of hypothesis, how to start a hypothesis sentence, examples of hypothesis, five key elements of a good hypothesis, hypothesis in research papers, is a hypothesis always a question, three things needed for a good hypothesis, components of a good hypothesis, formulate a hypothesis, characteristics of a hypothesis mcq, criteria for a scientific hypothesis, steps of theory development in scientific methods, what makes a good hypothesis, characteristics of a good hypothesis quizlet, five-step p-value approach to hypothesis testing , stages of hypothesis, good hypothesis characteristics, writing a good hypothesis example, difference between hypothesis and hypotheses, good hypothesis statement, not a characteristic of a good hypothesis)

5 Characteristics of a Good Hypothesis

Clear and specific.

A good hypothesis is like a GPS that guides you to the right destination. It needs to be clear and specific so that you know exactly what you’re testing. Avoid vague statements or general ideas. Instead, focus on crafting a hypothesis that clearly states the relationship between variables and the expected outcome. Clarity is key, my friend!

Testable and Falsifiable

A hypothesis might sound great in theory, but if you can’t test it or prove it wrong, then it’s like chasing unicorns. A good hypothesis should be testable and falsifiable – meaning there should be a way to gather evidence to support or refute it. Don’t be afraid to challenge your hypothesis and put it to the test. Only when it can be proven false can it truly be considered a good hypothesis.

Based on Existing Knowledge

Imagine trying to build a Lego tower without any Lego bricks. That’s what it’s like to come up with a hypothesis that has no basis in existing knowledge. A good hypothesis is grounded in previous research, theories, or observations. It shows that you’ve done your homework and understand the current state of knowledge in your field. So, put on your research hat and gather those building blocks for a solid hypothesis!

Specific Predictions

No, we’re not talking about crystal ball predictions or psychic abilities here. A good hypothesis includes specific predictions about what you expect to happen. It’s like making an educated guess based on your understanding of the variables involved. These predictions help guide your research and give you something concrete to look for. So, put on those prediction goggles, my friend, and let’s get specific!

Relevant to the Research Question

A hypothesis is a road sign that points you in the right direction. But if it’s not relevant to your research question, then you might end up in a never-ending detour. A good hypothesis aligns with your research question and addresses the specific problem or phenomenon you’re investigating. Keep your focus on the main topic and avoid getting sidetracked by shiny distractions. Stay relevant, my friend, and you’ll find the answers you seek!

And there you have it: the five characteristics of a good hypothesis. Remember, a good hypothesis is clear, testable, based on existing knowledge, makes specific predictions, and is relevant to your research question. So go forth, my friend, and hypothesize your way to scientific discovery!

FAQs: Characteristics of a Good Hypothesis

In the realm of scientific research, a hypothesis plays a crucial role in formulating and testing ideas. A good hypothesis serves as the foundation for an experiment or study, guiding the researcher towards meaningful results. In this FAQ-style subsection, we’ll explore the characteristics of a good hypothesis, their types, formulation, and more. So let’s dive in and unravel the mysteries of hypothesis-making!

What Are Two Important Characteristics of a Good Hypothesis

A good hypothesis possesses two important characteristics:

Testability : A hypothesis must be testable to determine its validity. It should be formulated in a way that allows researchers to design and conduct experiments or gather data for analysis. For example, if we hypothesize that “drinking herbal tea reduces stress,” we can easily test it by conducting a study with a control group and a group drinking herbal tea.

Falsifiability : Falsifiability refers to the potential for a hypothesis to be proven wrong. A good hypothesis should make specific predictions that can be refuted or supported by evidence. This characteristic ensures that hypotheses are based on empirical observations rather than personal opinions. For instance, the hypothesis “all swans are white” can be falsified by discovering a single black swan.

What Are the Types of Hypothesis in Research

In research, there are three main types of hypotheses:

Null Hypothesis (H0) : The null hypothesis is a statement of no effect or relationship. It assumes that there is no significant difference between variables or no effect of a treatment. Researchers aim to reject the null hypothesis in favor of an alternative hypothesis.

Alternative Hypothesis (HA or H1) : The alternative hypothesis is the opposite of the null hypothesis. It asserts that there is a significant difference between variables or an effect of a treatment. Researchers seek evidence to support the alternative hypothesis.

Directional Hypothesis : A directional hypothesis predicts the specific direction of the relationship or difference between variables. For example, “increasing exercise duration will lead to greater weight loss.”

Can a Hypothesis Be Proven True

In scientific research, hypotheses are not proven true; they are supported or rejected based on empirical evidence . Even if a hypothesis is supported by multiple studies, new evidence could arise that contradicts it. Scientific knowledge is always subject to revision and refinement. Therefore, the goal is to gather enough evidence to either support or reject a hypothesis, rather than proving it absolutely true.

What Are the Six Parts of a Hypothesis

A hypothesis typically consists of six essential parts:

Research Question : A clear and concise question that the hypothesis seeks to answer.

Variables : Identification of the independent (manipulated) and dependent (measured) variables involved in the hypothesis.

Population : The specific group or individuals the hypothesis is concerned with.

Relationship or Comparison : The expected relationship or difference between variables, often indicated by directional terms like “more,” “less,” “higher,” or “lower.”

Predictability : A statement of the predicted outcome or result based on the relationship between variables.

Testability : The ability to design an experiment or gather data to support or reject the hypothesis.

How Do You Start a Hypothesis Sentence

When starting a hypothesis sentence, it is essential to use clear and concise language to express your ideas. A common approach is to use the phrase “If…then…” to establish the conditional relationship between variables. For example:

  • If [independent variable], then [dependent variable] because [explanation of expected relationship].

This structure allows for a straightforward and logical formulation of the hypothesis.

What Are Examples of Hypotheses

Here are a few examples of well-formulated hypotheses:

If exposure to sunlight increases, then plants will grow taller because sunlight is necessary for photosynthesis.

If students receive praise for good grades, then their motivation to excel will increase because they seek recognition and approval.

If the dose of a painkiller is increased, then the relief from pain will last longer because a higher dosage has a prolonged effect.

What Are the Five Key Elements to a Good Hypothesis

A good hypothesis should include the following five key elements:

Clarity : The hypothesis should be clear and specific, leaving no room for interpretation.

Testability : It should be possible to test the hypothesis through experimentation or data collection.

Relevance : The hypothesis should be directly tied to the research question or problem being investigated.

Specificity : It must clearly state the relationship or difference between variables being studied.

Falsifiability : The hypothesis should make predictions that can be refuted or supported by empirical evidence.

What Makes a Good Hypothesis in a Research Paper

In a research paper, a good hypothesis should have the following characteristics:

Relevance : It must directly relate to the research topic and address the objectives of the study.

Clarity : The hypothesis should be concise and precisely worded to avoid confusion.

Unambiguous : It must leave no room for multiple interpretations or ambiguity.

Logic : The hypothesis should be based on rational and logical reasoning, considering existing theories and observations.

Empirical Support : Ideally, the hypothesis should be supported by prior empirical evidence or strong theoretical justifications.

Is a Hypothesis Always a Question

No, a hypothesis is not always in the form of a question. While some hypotheses can take the form of a question, others may be statements asserting a relationship or difference between variables. The form of a hypothesis depends on the research question being addressed and the researcher’s preferred style of expression.

What Are the Three Things Needed for a Good Hypothesis

For a hypothesis to be considered good, it must fulfill the following three criteria:

Testability : The hypothesis should be formulated in a way that allows for empirical testing through experimentation or data collection.

Falsifiability : It must make specific predictions that can be potentially refuted or supported by evidence.

Relevance : The hypothesis should directly address the research question or problem being investigated.

What Are the Four Components to a Good Hypothesis

A good hypothesis typically consists of four components:

Independent Variable : The variable being manipulated or controlled by the researcher.

Dependent Variable : The variable being measured or observed to determine the effect of the independent variable.

Directionality : The predicted relationship or difference between the independent and dependent variables.

Population : The specific group or individuals to which the hypothesis applies.

How Do You Formulate a Hypothesis

To formulate a hypothesis, follow these steps:

Identify the Research Topic : Clearly define the area or phenomenon you want to study.

Conduct Background Research : Review existing literature and research to gain knowledge about the topic.

Formulate a Research Question : Ask a clear and focused question that you want to answer through your hypothesis.

State the Null and Alternative Hypotheses : Develop a null hypothesis to assume no effect or relationship, and an alternative hypothesis to propose a significant effect or relationship.

Decide on Variables and Relationships : Determine the independent and dependent variables and the predicted relationship between them.

Refine and Test : Refine your hypothesis, ensuring it is clear, testable, and falsifiable. Then, design experiments or gather data to support or reject it.

What Is a Characteristic of a Hypothesis MCQ

Multiple-choice questions (MCQ) regarding the characteristics of a hypothesis often assess knowledge on the testability and falsifiability of hypotheses. They may ask about the criteria that distinguish a good hypothesis from a poor one or the importance of making specific predictions. Remember to choose answers that emphasize the empirical and testable nature of hypotheses.

What Five Criteria Must Be Satisfied for a Hypothesis to Be Scientific

For a hypothesis to be considered scientific, it must satisfy the following five criteria:

Testability : The hypothesis must be formulated in a way that allows it to be tested through experimentation or data collection.

Falsifiability : It should make specific predictions that can be potentially refuted or supported by empirical evidence.

Empirical Basis : The hypothesis should be based on empirical observations or existing theories and knowledge.

Relevance : It must directly address the research question or problem being investigated.

Objective : A scientific hypothesis should be free from personal biases or subjective opinions, focusing on objective observations and analysis.

What Are the Steps of Theory Development in Scientific Methods

In scientific methods, theory development typically involves the following steps:

Observation : Identifying a phenomenon or pattern worthy of investigation through observation or empirical data.

Formulation of a Hypothesis : Constructing a hypothesis that explains the observed phenomena or predicts a relationship between variables.

Data Collection : Gathering relevant data through experiments, surveys, observations, or other research methods.

Analysis : Analyzing the collected data to evaluate the hypothesis’s predictions and determine their validity.

Revision and Refinement : Based on the analysis, refining the hypothesis, modifying the theory, or formulating new hypotheses for further investigation.

Which of the Following Makes a Good Hypothesis

A good hypothesis is characterized by:

Testability : The ability to form experiments or gather data to support or refute the hypothesis.

Falsifiability : The potential for the hypothesis’s predictions to be proven wrong based on empirical evidence.

Clarity : A clear and concise statement or question that leaves no room for ambiguity.

Relevancy : Directly addressing the research question or problem at hand.

Remember, it is important to select the option that encompasses all these characteristics.

What Are the Characteristics of a Good Hypothesis

A good hypothesis possesses several characteristics, such as:

Testability : It should allow for empirical testing through experiments or data collection.

Falsifiability : The hypothesis should make specific predictions that can be potentially refuted or supported by evidence.

Clarity : It must be clearly and precisely formulated, leaving no room for ambiguity or multiple interpretations.

Relevance : The hypothesis should directly relate to the research question or problem being investigated.

What Is the Five-Step p-value Approach to Hypothesis Testing

The five-step p-value approach is a commonly used framework for hypothesis testing:

Step 1: Formulating the Hypotheses : The null hypothesis (H0) assumes no effect or relationship, while the alternative hypothesis (HA) proposes a significant effect or relationship.

Step 2: Setting the Significance Level : Decide on the level of significance (α), which represents the probability of rejecting the null hypothesis when it is true. The commonly used level is 0.05 (5%).

Step 3: Collecting Data and Performing the Test : Acquire and analyze the data, calculating the test statistic and the corresponding p-value.

Step 4: Comparing the p-value with the Significance Level : If the p-value is less than the significance level (α), reject the null hypothesis. Otherwise, fail to reject the null hypothesis.

Step 5: Drawing Conclusions : Based on the comparison in Step 4, interpret the results and draw conclusions about the hypothesis.

What Are the Stages of Hypothesis

The stages of hypothesis generally include:

Observation : Identifying a pattern, phenomenon, or research question that warrants investigation.

Formulation : Developing a hypothesis that explains or predicts the relationship or difference between variables.

Testing : Collecting data, designing experiments, or conducting studies to gather evidence supporting or refuting the hypothesis.

Analysis : Assessing the collected data to determine whether the results support or reject the hypothesis.

Conclusion : Drawing conclusions based on the analysis and making further iterations, refinements, or new hypotheses for future research.

What Is a Characteristic of a Good Hypothesis

A characteristic of a good hypothesis is its ability to make specific predictions about the relationship or difference between variables. Good hypotheses avoid vague statements and clearly articulate the expected outcomes. By doing so, researchers can design experiments or gather data that directly test the predictions, leading to meaningful results.

How Do You Write a Good Hypothesis Example

To write a good hypothesis example, follow these guidelines:

If possible, use the “If…then…” format to express a conditional relationship between variables.

Be clear and concise in stating the variables involved, the predicted relationship, and the expected outcome.

Ensure the hypothesis is testable, meaning it can be evaluated through experiments or data collection.

For instance, consider the following example:

If students study for longer periods of time, then their test scores will improve because increased study time allows for better retention of information and increased proficiency.

What Is the Difference Between Hypothesis and Hypotheses

The main difference between a hypothesis and hypotheses lies in their grammatical number. A hypothesis refers to a single statement or proposition that is formulated to explain or predict the relationship between variables. On the other hand, hypotheses is the plural form of the term hypothesis, commonly used when multiple statements or propositions are proposed and tested simultaneously.

What Is a Good Hypothesis Statement

A good hypothesis statement exhibits the following qualities:

Clarity : It is written in clear and concise language, leaving no room for confusion or ambiguity.

Testability : The hypothesis should be formulated in a way that enables testing through experiments or data collection.

Specificity : It must clearly state the predicted relationship or difference between variables.

By adhering to these criteria, a good hypothesis statement guides research efforts effectively.

What Is Not a Characteristic of a Good Hypothesis

A characteristic that does not align with a good hypothesis is subjectivity . A hypothesis should be objective, based on empirical observations or existing theories, and free from personal bias. While personal interpretations and opinions can inspire the formulation of a hypothesis, it must ultimately rely on objective observations and be open to empirical testing.

By now, you’ve gained insights into the characteristics of a good hypothesis, including testability, falsifiability, clarity,

  • characteristics
  • falsifiable
  • good hypothesis
  • hypothesis testing
  • null hypothesis
  • observations
  • scientific rigor

' src=

Brian Thomas

Is july really a 31-day month unraveling the puzzling calendar quirk, how long does it take to become l5 at amazon, you may also like, do splatter balls hurt: exploring the fun and safety of gel blasters.

  • by Mr. Gilbert Preston
  • October 12, 2023

The Mysterious Life of Slogoman: Where Does He Live in 2023?

  • November 1, 2023

How Tall Is Sidon from Breath of the Wild? Plus Other Fascinating Facts

  • by Donna Gonzalez
  • October 31, 2023

Do Worms Have a Tongue and Other Intriguing Questions Answered!

  • by Willie Wilson

How Fast Is Aaron Lennon? Exploring Speed in Football

  • by Thomas Harrison

What is the Lightest Greige Benjamin Moore? A Comprehensive Guide – 2023

  • by Brandon Thompson
  • October 6, 2023

Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, automatically generate references for free.

  • Knowledge Base
  • Methodology
  • How to Write a Strong Hypothesis | Guide & Examples

How to Write a Strong Hypothesis | Guide & Examples

Published on 6 May 2022 by Shona McCombes .

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

Table of contents

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

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

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

Variables in hypotheses

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

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

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

Step 1: ask a question.

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

Step 2: Do some preliminary research

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

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

Step 3: Formulate your hypothesis

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

Step 4: Refine your hypothesis

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

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

Step 5: Phrase your hypothesis in three ways

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

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

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

Step 6. Write a null hypothesis

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

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

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

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

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

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

McCombes, S. (2022, May 06). How to Write a Strong Hypothesis | Guide & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 15 April 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/research-methods/hypothesis-writing/

Is this article helpful?

Shona McCombes

Shona McCombes

Other students also liked, operationalisation | a guide with examples, pros & cons, what is a conceptual framework | tips & examples, a quick guide to experimental design | 5 steps & examples.

What Are the Elements of a Good Hypothesis?

Hero Images/Getty Images

  • Scientific Method
  • Chemical Laws
  • Periodic Table
  • Projects & Experiments
  • Biochemistry
  • Physical Chemistry
  • Medical Chemistry
  • Chemistry In Everyday Life
  • Famous Chemists
  • Activities for Kids
  • Abbreviations & Acronyms
  • Weather & Climate
  • Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville
  • B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College

A hypothesis is an educated guess or prediction of what will happen. In science, a hypothesis proposes a relationship between factors called variables. A good hypothesis relates an independent variable and a dependent variable. The effect on the dependent variable depends on or is determined by what happens when you change the independent variable . While you could consider any prediction of an outcome to be a type of hypothesis, a good hypothesis is one you can test using the scientific method. In other words, you want to propose a hypothesis to use as the basis for an experiment.

Cause and Effect or 'If, Then' Relationships

A good experimental hypothesis can be written as an if, then statement to establish cause and effect on the variables. If you make a change to the independent variable, then the dependent variable will respond. Here's an example of a hypothesis:

If you increase the duration of light, (then) corn plants will grow more each day.

The hypothesis establishes two variables, length of light exposure, and the rate of plant growth. An experiment could be designed to test whether the rate of growth depends on the duration of light. The duration of light is the independent variable, which you can control in an experiment . The rate of plant growth is the dependent variable, which you can measure and record as data in an experiment.

Key Points of Hypothesis

When you have an idea for a hypothesis, it may help to write it out in several different ways. Review your choices and select a hypothesis that accurately describes what you are testing.

  • Does the hypothesis relate an independent and dependent variable? Can you identify the variables?
  • Can you test the hypothesis? In other words, could you design an experiment that would allow you to establish or disprove a relationship between the variables?
  • Would your experiment be safe and ethical?
  • Is there a simpler or more precise way to state the hypothesis? If so, rewrite it.

What If the Hypothesis Is Incorrect?

It's not wrong or bad if the hypothesis is not supported or is incorrect. Actually, this outcome may tell you more about a relationship between the variables than if the hypothesis is supported. You may intentionally write your hypothesis as a null hypothesis or no-difference hypothesis to establish a relationship between the variables.

For example, the hypothesis:

The rate of corn plant growth does not depend on the duration of light.

This can be tested by exposing corn plants to different length "days" and measuring the rate of plant growth. A statistical test can be applied to measure how well the data support the hypothesis. If the hypothesis is not supported, then you have evidence of a relationship between the variables. It's easier to establish cause and effect by testing whether "no effect" is found. Alternatively, if the null hypothesis is supported, then you have shown the variables are not related. Either way, your experiment is a success.

Need more examples of how to write a hypothesis ? Here you go:

  • If you turn out all the lights, you will fall asleep faster. (Think: How would you test it?)
  • If you drop different objects, they will fall at the same rate.
  • If you eat only fast food, then you will gain weight.
  • If you use cruise control, then your car will get better gas mileage.
  • If you apply a top coat, then your manicure will last longer.
  • If you turn the lights on and off rapidly, then the bulb will burn out faster.
  • Null Hypothesis Definition and Examples
  • Six Steps of the Scientific Method
  • What Is a Hypothesis? (Science)
  • Understanding Simple vs Controlled Experiments
  • The Role of a Controlled Variable in an Experiment
  • Dependent Variable Definition and Examples
  • How To Design a Science Fair Experiment
  • Null Hypothesis Examples
  • Scientific Method Flow Chart
  • What Are Independent and Dependent Variables?
  • Definition of a Hypothesis
  • Scientific Variable
  • What Is an Experiment? Definition and Design
  • What Is a Testable Hypothesis?
  • What Is a Control Group?
  • Resources Home 🏠
  • Try SciSpace Copilot
  • Search research papers
  • Add Copilot Extension
  • Try AI Detector
  • Try Paraphraser
  • Try Citation Generator
  • April Papers
  • June Papers
  • July Papers

SciSpace Resources

The Craft of Writing a Strong Hypothesis

Deeptanshu D

Table of Contents

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

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

What is a Hypothesis?

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

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

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

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

Different Types of Hypotheses‌

Types-of-hypotheses

Types of hypotheses

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

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

1. Null hypothesis

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

2. Alternative hypothesis

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

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

3. Simple hypothesis

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

4. Complex hypothesis

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

5. Associative and casual hypothesis

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

6. Empirical hypothesis

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

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

7. Statistical hypothesis

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

Characteristics of a Good Hypothesis

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

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

Separating a Hypothesis from a Prediction

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, How to Write a Hypothesis

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

Quick tips on writing a hypothesis

1.  Be clear about your research question

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

2. Carry out a recce

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

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

3. Create a 3-dimensional hypothesis

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

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

4. Write the first draft

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

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

5. Proof your hypothesis

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. what is the definition of hypothesis.

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

2. What is an example of hypothesis?

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

3. What is an example of null hypothesis?

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

4. What are the types of research?

• Fundamental research

• Applied research

• Qualitative research

• Quantitative research

• Mixed research

• Exploratory research

• Longitudinal research

• Cross-sectional research

• Field research

• Laboratory research

• Fixed research

• Flexible research

• Action research

• Policy research

• Classification research

• Comparative research

• Causal research

• Inductive research

• Deductive research

5. How to write a hypothesis?

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

• Avoid wordiness by keeping it simple and brief.

• Your hypothesis should contain observable and testable outcomes.

• Your hypothesis should be relevant to the research question.

6. What are the 2 types of hypothesis?

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

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

7. Difference between research question and research hypothesis?

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

8. What is plural for hypothesis?

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

9. What is the red queen hypothesis?

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

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

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

11. When to reject null hypothesis?

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

what are the features of a good hypothesis (links to an external site )

You might also like

Consensus GPT vs. SciSpace GPT: Choose the Best GPT for Research

Consensus GPT vs. SciSpace GPT: Choose the Best GPT for Research

Sumalatha G

Literature Review and Theoretical Framework: Understanding the Differences

Nikhil Seethi

Types of Essays in Academic Writing - Quick Guide (2024)

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

Learn about our Editorial Process

Olivia Guy-Evans, MSc

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

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

On This Page:

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

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

Some key points about hypotheses:

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

Types of Research Hypotheses

Alternative hypothesis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Null Hypothesis

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

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

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

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

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

Nondirectional Hypothesis

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

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

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

Directional Hypothesis

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

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

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

hypothesis

Falsifiability

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

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

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

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

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

Can a Hypothesis be Proven?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Write a Hypothesis

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

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

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

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

More Examples

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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Elsevier QRcode Wechat

  • Manuscript Preparation

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

  • 4 minute read
  • 297.5K views

Table of Contents

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

What is a Hypothesis in Research?

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

Research Question vs Hypothesis

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

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

How to Write Hypothesis in Research

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

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

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

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

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

Research Hypothesis Example

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

Here are a few generic examples to get you started.

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

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

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

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

Language Editing Plus

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

Systematic Literature Review or Literature Review

  • Research Process

Systematic Literature Review or Literature Review?

What is a Problem Statement

What is a Problem Statement? [with examples]

You may also like.

impactful introduction section

Make Hook, Line, and Sinker: The Art of Crafting Engaging Introductions

Limitations of a Research

Can Describing Study Limitations Improve the Quality of Your Paper?

Guide to Crafting Impactful Sentences

A Guide to Crafting Shorter, Impactful Sentences in Academic Writing

Write an Excellent Discussion in Your Manuscript

6 Steps to Write an Excellent Discussion in Your Manuscript

How to Write Clear Civil Engineering Papers

How to Write Clear and Crisp Civil Engineering Papers? Here are 5 Key Tips to Consider

what are the features of a good hypothesis (links to an external site )

The Clear Path to An Impactful Paper: ②

Essentials of Writing to Communicate Research in Medicine

The Essentials of Writing to Communicate Research in Medicine

There are some recognizable elements and patterns often used for framing engaging sentences in English. Find here the sentence patterns in Academic Writing

Changing Lines: Sentence Patterns in Academic Writing

Input your search keywords and press Enter.

  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Therapy Center
  • When To See a Therapist
  • Types of Therapy
  • Best Online Therapy
  • Best Couples Therapy
  • Best Family Therapy
  • Managing Stress
  • Sleep and Dreaming
  • Understanding Emotions
  • Self-Improvement
  • Healthy Relationships
  • Student Resources
  • Personality Types
  • Guided Meditations
  • Verywell Mind Insights
  • 2023 Verywell Mind 25
  • Mental Health in the Classroom
  • Editorial Process
  • Meet Our Review Board
  • Crisis Support

How to Write a Great Hypothesis

Hypothesis Definition, Format, Examples, and Tips

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

what are the features of a good hypothesis (links to an external site )

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

what are the features of a good hypothesis (links to an external site )

Verywell / Alex Dos Diaz

  • The Scientific Method

Hypothesis Format

Falsifiability of a hypothesis.

  • Operationalization

Hypothesis Types

Hypotheses examples.

  • Collecting Data

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

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

At a Glance

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

The Hypothesis in the Scientific Method

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elements of a Good Hypothesis

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

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

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

How to Formulate a Good Hypothesis

To form a hypothesis, you should take these steps:

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

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

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

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

The Importance of Operational Definitions

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

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

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

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

Replicability

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

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

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

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

Hypothesis Checklist

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

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

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

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

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

A few examples of simple hypotheses:

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

Examples of a complex hypothesis include:

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

Examples of a null hypothesis include:

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

Examples of an alternative hypothesis:

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

Collecting Data on Your Hypothesis

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

Descriptive Research Methods

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

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

Experimental Research Methods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Logo for Pressbooks

Want to create or adapt books like this? Learn more about how Pressbooks supports open publishing practices.

Overview of the Scientific Method

Learning Objectives

  • Distinguish between a theory and a hypothesis.
  • Discover how theories are used to generate hypotheses and how the results of studies can be used to further inform theories.
  • Understand the characteristics of a good hypothesis.

Theories and Hypotheses

Before describing how to develop a hypothesis, it is important to distinguish between a theory and a hypothesis. A  theory  is a coherent explanation or interpretation of one or more phenomena. Although theories can take a variety of forms, one thing they have in common is that they go beyond the phenomena they explain by including variables, structures, processes, functions, or organizing principles that have not been observed directly. Consider, for example, Zajonc’s theory of social facilitation and social inhibition (1965) [1] . He proposed that being watched by others while performing a task creates a general state of physiological arousal, which increases the likelihood of the dominant (most likely) response. So for highly practiced tasks, being watched increases the tendency to make correct responses, but for relatively unpracticed tasks, being watched increases the tendency to make incorrect responses. Notice that this theory—which has come to be called drive theory—provides an explanation of both social facilitation and social inhibition that goes beyond the phenomena themselves by including concepts such as “arousal” and “dominant response,” along with processes such as the effect of arousal on the dominant response.

Outside of science, referring to an idea as a theory often implies that it is untested—perhaps no more than a wild guess. In science, however, the term theory has no such implication. A theory is simply an explanation or interpretation of a set of phenomena. It can be untested, but it can also be extensively tested, well supported, and accepted as an accurate description of the world by the scientific community. The theory of evolution by natural selection, for example, is a theory because it is an explanation of the diversity of life on earth—not because it is untested or unsupported by scientific research. On the contrary, the evidence for this theory is overwhelmingly positive and nearly all scientists accept its basic assumptions as accurate. Similarly, the “germ theory” of disease is a theory because it is an explanation of the origin of various diseases, not because there is any doubt that many diseases are caused by microorganisms that infect the body.

A  hypothesis , on the other hand, is a specific prediction about a new phenomenon that should be observed if a particular theory is accurate. It is an explanation that relies on just a few key concepts. Hypotheses are often specific predictions about what will happen in a particular study. They are developed by considering existing evidence and using reasoning to infer what will happen in the specific context of interest. Hypotheses are often but not always derived from theories. So a hypothesis is often a prediction based on a theory but some hypotheses are a-theoretical and only after a set of observations have been made, is a theory developed. This is because theories are broad in nature and they explain larger bodies of data. So if our research question is really original then we may need to collect some data and make some observations before we can develop a broader theory.

Theories and hypotheses always have this  if-then  relationship. “ If   drive theory is correct,  then  cockroaches should run through a straight runway faster, and a branching runway more slowly, when other cockroaches are present.” Although hypotheses are usually expressed as statements, they can always be rephrased as questions. “Do cockroaches run through a straight runway faster when other cockroaches are present?” Thus deriving hypotheses from theories is an excellent way of generating interesting research questions.

But how do researchers derive hypotheses from theories? One way is to generate a research question using the techniques discussed in this chapter  and then ask whether any theory implies an answer to that question. For example, you might wonder whether expressive writing about positive experiences improves health as much as expressive writing about traumatic experiences. Although this  question  is an interesting one  on its own, you might then ask whether the habituation theory—the idea that expressive writing causes people to habituate to negative thoughts and feelings—implies an answer. In this case, it seems clear that if the habituation theory is correct, then expressive writing about positive experiences should not be effective because it would not cause people to habituate to negative thoughts and feelings. A second way to derive hypotheses from theories is to focus on some component of the theory that has not yet been directly observed. For example, a researcher could focus on the process of habituation—perhaps hypothesizing that people should show fewer signs of emotional distress with each new writing session.

Among the very best hypotheses are those that distinguish between competing theories. For example, Norbert Schwarz and his colleagues considered two theories of how people make judgments about themselves, such as how assertive they are (Schwarz et al., 1991) [2] . Both theories held that such judgments are based on relevant examples that people bring to mind. However, one theory was that people base their judgments on the  number  of examples they bring to mind and the other was that people base their judgments on how  easily  they bring those examples to mind. To test these theories, the researchers asked people to recall either six times when they were assertive (which is easy for most people) or 12 times (which is difficult for most people). Then they asked them to judge their own assertiveness. Note that the number-of-examples theory implies that people who recalled 12 examples should judge themselves to be more assertive because they recalled more examples, but the ease-of-examples theory implies that participants who recalled six examples should judge themselves as more assertive because recalling the examples was easier. Thus the two theories made opposite predictions so that only one of the predictions could be confirmed. The surprising result was that participants who recalled fewer examples judged themselves to be more assertive—providing particularly convincing evidence in favor of the ease-of-retrieval theory over the number-of-examples theory.

Theory Testing

The primary way that scientific researchers use theories is sometimes called the hypothetico-deductive method  (although this term is much more likely to be used by philosophers of science than by scientists themselves). Researchers begin with a set of phenomena and either construct a theory to explain or interpret them or choose an existing theory to work with. They then make a prediction about some new phenomenon that should be observed if the theory is correct. Again, this prediction is called a hypothesis. The researchers then conduct an empirical study to test the hypothesis. Finally, they reevaluate the theory in light of the new results and revise it if necessary. This process is usually conceptualized as a cycle because the researchers can then derive a new hypothesis from the revised theory, conduct a new empirical study to test the hypothesis, and so on. As  Figure 2.3  shows, this approach meshes nicely with the model of scientific research in psychology presented earlier in the textbook—creating a more detailed model of “theoretically motivated” or “theory-driven” research.

what are the features of a good hypothesis (links to an external site )

As an example, let us consider Zajonc’s research on social facilitation and inhibition. He started with a somewhat contradictory pattern of results from the research literature. He then constructed his drive theory, according to which being watched by others while performing a task causes physiological arousal, which increases an organism’s tendency to make the dominant response. This theory predicts social facilitation for well-learned tasks and social inhibition for poorly learned tasks. He now had a theory that organized previous results in a meaningful way—but he still needed to test it. He hypothesized that if his theory was correct, he should observe that the presence of others improves performance in a simple laboratory task but inhibits performance in a difficult version of the very same laboratory task. To test this hypothesis, one of the studies he conducted used cockroaches as subjects (Zajonc, Heingartner, & Herman, 1969) [3] . The cockroaches ran either down a straight runway (an easy task for a cockroach) or through a cross-shaped maze (a difficult task for a cockroach) to escape into a dark chamber when a light was shined on them. They did this either while alone or in the presence of other cockroaches in clear plastic “audience boxes.” Zajonc found that cockroaches in the straight runway reached their goal more quickly in the presence of other cockroaches, but cockroaches in the cross-shaped maze reached their goal more slowly when they were in the presence of other cockroaches. Thus he confirmed his hypothesis and provided support for his drive theory. (Zajonc also showed that drive theory existed in humans [Zajonc & Sales, 1966] [4] in many other studies afterward).

Incorporating Theory into Your Research

When you write your research report or plan your presentation, be aware that there are two basic ways that researchers usually include theory. The first is to raise a research question, answer that question by conducting a new study, and then offer one or more theories (usually more) to explain or interpret the results. This format works well for applied research questions and for research questions that existing theories do not address. The second way is to describe one or more existing theories, derive a hypothesis from one of those theories, test the hypothesis in a new study, and finally reevaluate the theory. This format works well when there is an existing theory that addresses the research question—especially if the resulting hypothesis is surprising or conflicts with a hypothesis derived from a different theory.

To use theories in your research will not only give you guidance in coming up with experiment ideas and possible projects, but it lends legitimacy to your work. Psychologists have been interested in a variety of human behaviors and have developed many theories along the way. Using established theories will help you break new ground as a researcher, not limit you from developing your own ideas.

Characteristics of a Good Hypothesis

There are three general characteristics of a good hypothesis. First, a good hypothesis must be testable and falsifiable . We must be able to test the hypothesis using the methods of science and if you’ll recall Popper’s falsifiability criterion, it must be possible to gather evidence that will disconfirm the hypothesis if it is indeed false. Second, a good hypothesis must be logical. As described above, hypotheses are more than just a random guess. Hypotheses should be informed by previous theories or observations and logical reasoning. Typically, we begin with a broad and general theory and use  deductive reasoning to generate a more specific hypothesis to test based on that theory. Occasionally, however, when there is no theory to inform our hypothesis, we use  inductive reasoning  which involves using specific observations or research findings to form a more general hypothesis. Finally, the hypothesis should be positive. That is, the hypothesis should make a positive statement about the existence of a relationship or effect, rather than a statement that a relationship or effect does not exist. As scientists, we don’t set out to show that relationships do not exist or that effects do not occur so our hypotheses should not be worded in a way to suggest that an effect or relationship does not exist. The nature of science is to assume that something does not exist and then seek to find evidence to prove this wrong, to show that it really does exist. That may seem backward to you but that is the nature of the scientific method. The underlying reason for this is beyond the scope of this chapter but it has to do with statistical theory.

  • Zajonc, R. B. (1965). Social facilitation.  Science, 149 , 269–274 ↵
  • Schwarz, N., Bless, H., Strack, F., Klumpp, G., Rittenauer-Schatka, H., & Simons, A. (1991). Ease of retrieval as information: Another look at the availability heuristic.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61 , 195–202. ↵
  • Zajonc, R. B., Heingartner, A., & Herman, E. M. (1969). Social enhancement and impairment of performance in the cockroach.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 13 , 83–92. ↵
  • Zajonc, R.B. & Sales, S.M. (1966). Social facilitation of dominant and subordinate responses. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2 , 160-168. ↵

A coherent explanation or interpretation of one or more phenomena.

A specific prediction about a new phenomenon that should be observed if a particular theory is accurate.

A cyclical process of theory development, starting with an observed phenomenon, then developing or using a theory to make a specific prediction of what should happen if that theory is correct, testing that prediction, refining the theory in light of the findings, and using that refined theory to develop new hypotheses, and so on.

The ability to test the hypothesis using the methods of science and the possibility to gather evidence that will disconfirm the hypothesis if it is indeed false.

Research Methods in Psychology Copyright © 2019 by Rajiv S. Jhangiani, I-Chant A. Chiang, Carrie Cuttler, & Dana C. Leighton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book

Research Graduate

The Best PhD and Masters Consulting Company

Characteristics Of A Good Hypothesis

Characteristics Of A Good Hypothesis​

What exactly is a hypothesis.

A hypothesis is a conclusion reached after considering the evidence. This is the first step in any investigation, where the research questions are translated into a prediction. Variables, population, and the relationship between the variables are all included. A research hypothesis is a hypothesis that is tested to see if two or more variables have a relationship. Now let’s have a look at the characteristics of a  good hypothesis.

 Characteristics of

A good hypothesis has the following characteristics.

 Ability To Predict

Closest to things that can be seen, testability, relevant to the issue, techniques that are applicable, new discoveries have been made as a result of this ., harmony & consistency.

  • The similarity between the two phenomena.
  • Observations from previous studies, current experiences, and feedback from rivals.
  • Theories based on science.
  • People’s thinking processes are influenced by general patterns.
  • A straightforward hypothesis
  • Complex Hypothesis
  • Hypothesis  with a certain direction
  •  Non-direction Hypothesis
  • Null Hypothesis
  • Hypothesis of association and chance

Leave a Comment Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

  • Privacy Policy

Buy Me a Coffee

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.

About the author

' src=

Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

You may also like

Data collection

Data Collection – Methods Types and Examples

Delimitations

Delimitations in Research – Types, Examples and...

Research Process

Research Process – Steps, Examples and Tips

Research Design

Research Design – Types, Methods and Examples

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

Institutional Review Board – Application Sample...

Evaluating Research

Evaluating Research – Process, Examples and...

  • Affiliate Program

Wordvice

  • UNITED STATES
  • 台灣 (TAIWAN)
  • TÜRKIYE (TURKEY)
  • Academic Editing Services
  • - Research Paper
  • - Journal Manuscript
  • - Dissertation
  • - College & University Assignments
  • Admissions Editing Services
  • - Application Essay
  • - Personal Statement
  • - Recommendation Letter
  • - Cover Letter
  • - CV/Resume
  • Business Editing Services
  • - Business Documents
  • - Report & Brochure
  • - Website & Blog
  • Writer Editing Services
  • - Script & Screenplay
  • Our Editors
  • Client Reviews
  • Editing & Proofreading Prices
  • Wordvice Points
  • Partner Discount
  • Plagiarism Checker
  • APA Citation Generator
  • MLA Citation Generator
  • Chicago Citation Generator
  • Vancouver Citation Generator
  • - APA Style
  • - MLA Style
  • - Chicago Style
  • - Vancouver Style
  • Writing & Editing Guide
  • Academic Resources
  • Admissions Resources

How to Write a Research Hypothesis: Good & Bad Examples

what are the features of a good hypothesis (links to an external site )

What is a research hypothesis?

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

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

What is the difference between a hypothesis and a prediction?

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

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

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

Types of Research Hypotheses

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

Alternative Hypothesis

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

Null Hypothesis

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

Directional Hypothesis

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

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

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

Your null hypothesis would then be that

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

Nondirectional Hypothesis

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

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

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

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

hypothesis in a research paper

How to Write a Hypothesis for a Research Paper

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

Writing a Hypothesis Step:1

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

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

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

Writing a Hypothesis Step 2:

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

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

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

Writing a Hypothesis Step 3:

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

Examples of a Good and Bad Hypothesis

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

Good Hypothesis Examples

Bad hypothesis examples, tips for writing a research hypothesis.

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

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

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

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

Perfect Your Manuscript With Professional Editing

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

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

Library homepage

  • school Campus Bookshelves
  • menu_book Bookshelves
  • perm_media Learning Objects
  • login Login
  • how_to_reg Request Instructor Account
  • hub Instructor Commons
  • Download Page (PDF)
  • Download Full Book (PDF)
  • Periodic Table
  • Physics Constants
  • Scientific Calculator
  • Reference & Cite
  • Tools expand_more
  • Readability

selected template will load here

This action is not available.

Social Sci LibreTexts

3.1.3: Developing Theories and Hypotheses

  • Last updated
  • Save as PDF
  • Page ID 109843

2.5: Developing a Hypothesis

Learning objectives.

  • Distinguish between a theory and a hypothesis.
  • Discover how theories are used to generate hypotheses and how the results of studies can be used to further inform theories.
  • Understand the characteristics of a good hypothesis.

Theories and Hypotheses

Before describing how to develop a hypothesis, it is important to distinguish between a theory and a hypothesis. A theory is a coherent explanation or interpretation of one or more phenomena. Although theories can take a variety of forms, one thing they have in common is that they go beyond the phenomena they explain by including variables, structures, processes, functions, or organizing principles that have not been observed directly. Consider, for example, Zajonc’s theory of social facilitation and social inhibition (1965) [1] . He proposed that being watched by others while performing a task creates a general state of physiological arousal, which increases the likelihood of the dominant (most likely) response. So for highly practiced tasks, being watched increases the tendency to make correct responses, but for relatively unpracticed tasks, being watched increases the tendency to make incorrect responses. Notice that this theory—which has come to be called drive theory—provides an explanation of both social facilitation and social inhibition that goes beyond the phenomena themselves by including concepts such as “arousal” and “dominant response,” along with processes such as the effect of arousal on the dominant response.

Outside of science, referring to an idea as a theory often implies that it is untested—perhaps no more than a wild guess. In science, however, the term theory has no such implication. A theory is simply an explanation or interpretation of a set of phenomena. It can be untested, but it can also be extensively tested, well supported, and accepted as an accurate description of the world by the scientific community. The theory of evolution by natural selection, for example, is a theory because it is an explanation of the diversity of life on earth—not because it is untested or unsupported by scientific research. On the contrary, the evidence for this theory is overwhelmingly positive and nearly all scientists accept its basic assumptions as accurate. Similarly, the “germ theory” of disease is a theory because it is an explanation of the origin of various diseases, not because there is any doubt that many diseases are caused by microorganisms that infect the body.

A hypothesis , on the other hand, is a specific prediction about a new phenomenon that should be observed if a particular theory is accurate. It is an explanation that relies on just a few key concepts. Hypotheses are often specific predictions about what will happen in a particular study. They are developed by considering existing evidence and using reasoning to infer what will happen in the specific context of interest. Hypotheses are often but not always derived from theories. So a hypothesis is often a prediction based on a theory but some hypotheses are a-theoretical and only after a set of observations have been made, is a theory developed. This is because theories are broad in nature and they explain larger bodies of data. So if our research question is really original then we may need to collect some data and make some observations before we can develop a broader theory.

Theories and hypotheses always have this if-then relationship. “ If drive theory is correct, then cockroaches should run through a straight runway faster, and a branching runway more slowly, when other cockroaches are present.” Although hypotheses are usually expressed as statements, they can always be rephrased as questions. “Do cockroaches run through a straight runway faster when other cockroaches are present?” Thus deriving hypotheses from theories is an excellent way of generating interesting research questions.

But how do researchers derive hypotheses from theories? One way is to generate a research question using the techniques discussed in this chapter and then ask whether any theory implies an answer to that question. For example, you might wonder whether expressive writing about positive experiences improves health as much as expressive writing about traumatic experiences. Although this question is an interesting one on its own, you might then ask whether the habituation theory—the idea that expressive writing causes people to habituate to negative thoughts and feelings—implies an answer. In this case, it seems clear that if the habituation theory is correct, then expressive writing about positive experiences should not be effective because it would not cause people to habituate to negative thoughts and feelings. A second way to derive hypotheses from theories is to focus on some component of the theory that has not yet been directly observed. For example, a researcher could focus on the process of habituation—perhaps hypothesizing that people should show fewer signs of emotional distress with each new writing session.

Among the very best hypotheses are those that distinguish between competing theories. For example, Norbert Schwarz and his colleagues considered two theories of how people make judgments about themselves, such as how assertive they are (Schwarz et al., 1991) [2] . Both theories held that such judgments are based on relevant examples that people bring to mind. However, one theory was that people base their judgments on the number of examples they bring to mind and the other was that people base their judgments on how easily they bring those examples to mind. To test these theories, the researchers asked people to recall either six times when they were assertive (which is easy for most people) or 12 times (which is difficult for most people). Then they asked them to judge their own assertiveness. Note that the number-of-examples theory implies that people who recalled 12 examples should judge themselves to be more assertive because they recalled more examples, but the ease-of-examples theory implies that participants who recalled six examples should judge themselves as more assertive because recalling the examples was easier. Thus the two theories made opposite predictions so that only one of the predictions could be confirmed. The surprising result was that participants who recalled fewer examples judged themselves to be more assertive—providing particularly convincing evidence in favor of the ease-of-retrieval theory over the number-of-examples theory.

Theory Testing

The primary way that scientific researchers use theories is sometimes called the hypothetico-deductive method (although this term is much more likely to be used by philosophers of science than by scientists themselves). Researchers begin with a set of phenomena and either construct a theory to explain or interpret them or choose an existing theory to work with. They then make a prediction about some new phenomenon that should be observed if the theory is correct. Again, this prediction is called a hypothesis. The researchers then conduct an empirical study to test the hypothesis. Finally, they reevaluate the theory in light of the new results and revise it if necessary. This process is usually conceptualized as a cycle because the researchers can then derive a new hypothesis from the revised theory, conduct a new empirical study to test the hypothesis, and so on. As Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\) shows, this approach meshes nicely with the model of scientific research in psychology presented earlier in the textbook—creating a more detailed model of “theoretically motivated” or “theory-driven” research.

4.4.png

As an example, let us consider Zajonc’s research on social facilitation and inhibition. He started with a somewhat contradictory pattern of results from the research literature. He then constructed his drive theory, according to which being watched by others while performing a task causes physiological arousal, which increases an organism’s tendency to make the dominant response. This theory predicts social facilitation for well-learned tasks and social inhibition for poorly learned tasks. He now had a theory that organized previous results in a meaningful way—but he still needed to test it. He hypothesized that if his theory was correct, he should observe that the presence of others improves performance in a simple laboratory task but inhibits performance in a difficult version of the very same laboratory task. To test this hypothesis, one of the studies he conducted used cockroaches as subjects (Zajonc, Heingartner, & Herman, 1969) [3] . The cockroaches ran either down a straight runway (an easy task for a cockroach) or through a cross-shaped maze (a difficult task for a cockroach) to escape into a dark chamber when a light was shined on them. They did this either while alone or in the presence of other cockroaches in clear plastic “audience boxes.” Zajonc found that cockroaches in the straight runway reached their goal more quickly in the presence of other cockroaches, but cockroaches in the cross-shaped maze reached their goal more slowly when they were in the presence of other cockroaches. Thus he confirmed his hypothesis and provided support for his drive theory. (Zajonc also showed that drive theory existed in humans [Zajonc & Sales, 1966] [4] in many other studies afterward).

Incorporating Theory into Your Research

When you write your research report or plan your presentation, be aware that there are two basic ways that researchers usually include theory. The first is to raise a research question, answer that question by conducting a new study, and then offer one or more theories (usually more) to explain or interpret the results. This format works well for applied research questions and for research questions that existing theories do not address. The second way is to describe one or more existing theories, derive a hypothesis from one of those theories, test the hypothesis in a new study, and finally reevaluate the theory. This format works well when there is an existing theory that addresses the research question—especially if the resulting hypothesis is surprising or conflicts with a hypothesis derived from a different theory.

To use theories in your research will not only give you guidance in coming up with experiment ideas and possible projects, but it lends legitimacy to your work. Psychologists have been interested in a variety of human behaviors and have developed many theories along the way. Using established theories will help you break new ground as a researcher, not limit you from developing your own ideas.

There are three general characteristics of a good hypothesis. First, a good hypothesis must be testable and falsifiable . We must be able to test the hypothesis using the methods of science and if you’ll recall Popper’s falsifiability criterion, it must be possible to gather evidence that will disconfirm the hypothesis if it is indeed false. Second, a good hypothesis must be logical. As described above, hypotheses are more than just a random guess. Hypotheses should be informed by previous theories or observations and logical reasoning. Typically, we begin with a broad and general theory and use deductive reasoning to generate a more specific hypothesis to test based on that theory. Occasionally, however, when there is no theory to inform our hypothesis, we use inductive reasoning which involves using specific observations or research findings to form a more general hypothesis. Finally, the hypothesis should be positive. That is, the hypothesis should make a positive statement about the existence of a relationship or effect, rather than a statement that a relationship or effect does not exist. As scientists, we don’t set out to show that relationships do not exist or that effects do not occur so our hypotheses should not be worded in a way to suggest that an effect or relationship does not exist. The nature of science is to assume that something does not exist and then seek to find evidence to prove this wrong, to show that it really does exist. That may seem backward to you but that is the nature of the scientific method. The underlying reason for this is beyond the scope of this chapter but it has to do with statistical theory.

  • Zajonc, R. B. (1965). Social facilitation. Science, 149 , 269–274 ↵
  • Schwarz, N., Bless, H., Strack, F., Klumpp, G., Rittenauer-Schatka, H., & Simons, A. (1991). Ease of retrieval as information: Another look at the availability heuristic. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61 , 195–202. ↵
  • Zajonc, R. B., Heingartner, A., & Herman, E. M. (1969). Social enhancement and impairment of performance in the cockroach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 13 , 83–92. ↵
  • Zajonc, R.B. & Sales, S.M. (1966). Social facilitation of dominant and subordinate responses. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2 , 160-168. ↵

U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

The .gov means it’s official. Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.

The site is secure. The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

  • Publications
  • Account settings

Preview improvements coming to the PMC website in October 2024. Learn More or Try it out now .

  • Advanced Search
  • Journal List
  • Microb Biotechnol
  • v.15(11); 2022 Nov

On the role of hypotheses in science

Harald brüssow.

1 Laboratory of Gene Technology, Department of Biosystems, KU Leuven, Leuven Belgium

Associated Data

Scientific research progresses by the dialectic dialogue between hypothesis building and the experimental testing of these hypotheses. Microbiologists as biologists in general can rely on an increasing set of sophisticated experimental methods for hypothesis testing such that many scientists maintain that progress in biology essentially comes with new experimental tools. While this is certainly true, the importance of hypothesis building in science should not be neglected. Some scientists rely on intuition for hypothesis building. However, there is also a large body of philosophical thinking on hypothesis building whose knowledge may be of use to young scientists. The present essay presents a primer into philosophical thoughts on hypothesis building and illustrates it with two hypotheses that played a major role in the history of science (the parallel axiom and the fifth element hypothesis). It continues with philosophical concepts on hypotheses as a calculus that fits observations (Copernicus), the need for plausibility (Descartes and Gilbert) and for explicatory power imposing a strong selection on theories (Darwin, James and Dewey). Galilei introduced and James and Poincaré later justified the reductionist principle in hypothesis building. Waddington stressed the feed‐forward aspect of fruitful hypothesis building, while Poincaré called for a dialogue between experiment and hypothesis and distinguished false, true, fruitful and dangerous hypotheses. Theoretical biology plays a much lesser role than theoretical physics because physical thinking strives for unification principle across the universe while biology is confronted with a breathtaking diversity of life forms and its historical development on a single planet. Knowledge of the philosophical foundations on hypothesis building in science might stimulate more hypothesis‐driven experimentation that simple observation‐oriented “fishing expeditions” in biological research.

Short abstract

Scientific research progresses by the dialectic dialogue between hypothesis building and the experimental testing of these hypotheses. Microbiologists can rely on an increasing set of sophisticated experimental methods for hypothesis testing but the importance of hypothesis building in science should not be neglected. This Lilliput offers a primer on philosophical concepts on hypotheses in science.

INTRODUCTION

Philosophy of science and the theory of knowledge (epistemology) are important branches of philosophy. However, philosophy has over the centuries lost its dominant role it enjoyed in antiquity and became in Medieval Ages the maid of theology (ancilla theologiae) and after the rise of natural sciences and its technological applications many practising scientists and the general public doubt whether they need philosophical concepts in their professional and private life. This is in the opinion of the writer of this article, an applied microbiologist, shortsighted for several reasons. Philosophers of the 20th century have made important contributions to the theory of knowledge, and many eminent scientists grew interested in philosophical problems. Mathematics which plays such a prominent role in physics and increasingly also in other branches of science is a hybrid: to some extent, it is the paradigm of an exact science while its abstract aspects are deeply rooted in philosophical thinking. In the present essay, the focus is on hypothesis and hypothesis building in science, essentially it is a compilation what philosophers and scientists thought about this subject in past and present. The controversy between the mathematical mind and that of the practical mind is an old one. The philosopher, physicist and mathematician Pascal ( 1623 –1662a) wrote in his Pensées : “Mathematicians who are only mathematicians have exact minds, provided all things are explained to them by means of definitions and axioms; otherwise they are inaccurate. They are only right when the principles are quite clear. And men of intuition cannot have the patience to reach to first principles of things speculative and conceptional, which they have never seen in the world and which are altogether out of the common. The intellect can be strong and narrow, and can be comprehensive and weak.” Hypothesis building is an act both of intuition and exact thinking and I hope that theoretical knowledge about hypothesis building will also profit young microbiologists.

HYPOTHESES AND AXIOMS IN MATHEMATICS

In the following, I will illustrate the importance of hypothesis building for the history of science and the development of knowledge and illustrate it with two famous concepts, the parallel axiom in mathematics and the five elements hypothesis in physics.

Euclidean geometry

The prominent role of hypotheses in the development of science becomes already clear in the first science book of the Western civilization: Euclid's The Elements written about 300 BC starts with a set of statements called Definitions, Postulates and Common Notions that lay out the foundation of geometry (Euclid,  c.323‐c.283 ). This axiomatic approach is very modern as exemplified by the fact that Euclid's book remained for long time after the Bible the most read book in the Western hemisphere and a backbone of school teaching in mathematics. Euclid's twenty‐three definitions start with sentences such as “1. A point is that which has no part; 2. A line is breadthless length; 3. The extremities of a line are points”; and continues with the definition of angles (“8. A plane angle is the inclination to one another of two lines in a plane which meet one another and do not lie in a straight line”) and that of circles, triangles and quadrilateral figures. For the history of science, the 23rd definition of parallels is particularly interesting: “Parallel straight lines are straight lines which, being in the same plane and being produced indefinitely in both directions, do not meet one another in either direction”. This is the famous parallel axiom. It is clear that the parallel axiom cannot be the result of experimental observations, but must be a concept created in the mind. Euclid ends with five Common Notions (“1. Things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another, to 5. The whole is greater than the part”). The establishment of a contradiction‐free system for a branch of mathematics based on a set of axioms from which theorems were deduced was revolutionary modern. Hilbert ( 1899 ) formulated a sound modern formulation for Euclidian geometry. Hilbert's axiom system contains the notions “point, line and plane” and the concepts of “betweenness, containment and congruence” leading to five axioms, namely the axioms of Incidence (“Verknüpfung”), of Order (“Anordnung”), of Congruence, of Continuity (“Stetigkeit”) and of Parallels.

Origin of axioms

Philosophers gave various explanations for the origin of the Euclidean hypotheses or axioms. Plato considered geometrical figures as related to ideas (the true things behind the world of appearances). Aristoteles considered geometric figures as abstractions of physical bodies. Descartes perceived geometric figures as inborn ideas from extended bodies ( res extensa ), while Pascal thought that the axioms of Euclidian geometry were derived from intuition. Kant reasoned that Euclidian geometry represented a priori perceptions of space. Newton considered geometry as part of general mechanics linked to theories of measurement. Hilbert argued that the axioms of mathematical geometry are neither the result of contemplation (“Anschauung”) nor of psychological source. For him, axioms were formal propositions (“formale Aussageformen”) characterized by consistency (“Widerspruchsfreiheit”, i.e. absence of contradiction) (Mittelstrass,  1980a ).

Definitions

Axioms were also differently defined by philosophers. In Topics , Aristoteles calls axioms the assumptions taken up by one partner of a dialogue to initiate a dialectic discussion. Plato states that an axiom needs to be an acceptable or credible proposition, which cannot be justified by reference to other statements. Yet, a justification is not necessary because an axiom is an evident statement. In modern definition, axioms are methodical first sentences in the foundation of a deductive science (Mittelstrass,  1980a ). In Posterior Analytics , Aristotle defines postulates as positions which are at least initially not accepted by the dialogue partners while hypotheses are accepted for the sake of reasoning. In Euclid's book, postulates are construction methods that assure the existence of the geometric objects. Today postulates and axioms are used as synonyms while the 18th‐century philosophy made differences: Lambert defined axioms as descriptive sentences and postulates as prescriptive sentences. According to Kant, mathematical postulates create (synthesize) concepts (Mittelstrass,  1980b ). Definitions then fix the use of signs; they can be semantic definitions that explain the proper meaning of a sign in common language use (in a dictionary style) or they can be syntactic definitions that regulate the use of these signs in formal operations. Nominal definitions explain the words, while real definitions explain the meaning or the nature of the defined object. Definitions are thus essential for the development of a language of science, assuring communication and mutual understanding (Mittelstrass,  1980c ). Finally, hypotheses are also frequently defined as consistent conjectures that are compatible with the available knowledge. The truth of the hypothesis is only supposed in order to explain true observations and facts. Consequences of this hypothetical assumptions should explain the observed facts. Normally, descriptive hypotheses precede explanatory hypotheses in the development of scientific thought. Sometimes only tentative concepts are introduced as working hypotheses to test whether they have an explanatory capacity for the observations (Mittelstrass,  1980d ).

The Euclidian geometry is constructed along a logical “if→then” concept. The “if‐clause” formulates at the beginning the supposition, the “then clause” formulates the consequences from these axioms which provides a system of geometric theorems or insights. The conclusions do not follow directly from the hypothesis; this would otherwise represent self‐evident immediate conclusions. The “if‐then” concept in geometry is not used as in other branches of science where the consequences deduced from the axioms are checked against reality whether they are true, in order to confirm the validity of the hypothesis. The task in mathematics is: what can be logically deduced from a given set of axioms to build a contradiction‐free system of geometry. Whether this applies to the real world is in contrast to the situation in natural sciences another question and absolutely secondary to mathematics (Syntopicon,  1992 ).

Pascal's rules for hypotheses

In his Scientific Treatises on Geometric Demonstrations , Pascal ( 1623‐1662b ) formulates “Five rules are absolutely necessary and we cannot dispense with them without an essential defect and frequently even error. Do not leave undefined any terms at all obscure or ambiguous. Use in definitions of terms only words perfectly well known or already explained. Do not fail to ask that each of the necessary principles be granted, however clear and evident it may be. Ask only that perfectly self‐evident things be granted as axioms. Prove all propositions, using for their proof only axioms that are perfectly self‐evident or propositions already demonstrated or granted. Never get caught in the ambiguity of terms by failing to substitute in thought the definitions which restrict or define them. One should accept as true only those things whose contradiction appears to be false. We may then boldly affirm the original statement, however incomprehensible it is.”

Kant's rules on hypotheses

Kant ( 1724–1804 ) wrote that the analysis described in his book The Critique of Pure Reason “has now taught us that all its efforts to extend the bounds of knowledge by means of pure speculation, are utterly fruitless. So much the wider field lies open to hypothesis; as where we cannot know with certainty, we are at liberty to make guesses and to form suppositions. Imagination may be allowed, under the strict surveillance of reason, to invent suppositions; but these must be based on something that is perfectly certain‐ and that is the possibility of the object. Such a supposition is termed a hypothesis. We cannot imagine or invent any object or any property of an object not given in experience and employ it in a hypothesis; otherwise we should be basing our chain of reasoning upon mere chimerical fancies and not upon conception of things. Thus, we have no right to assume of new powers, not existing in nature and consequently we cannot assume that there is any other kind of community among substances than that observable in experience, any kind of presence than that in space and any kind of duration than that in time. The conditions of possible experience are for reason the only conditions of the possibility of things. Otherwise, such conceptions, although not self‐contradictory, are without object and without application. Transcendental hypotheses are therefore inadmissible, and we cannot use the liberty of employing in the absence of physical, hyperphysical grounds of explanation because such hypotheses do not advance reason, but rather stop it in its progress. When the explanation of natural phenomena happens to be difficult, we have constantly at hand a transcendental ground of explanation, which lifts us above the necessity of investigating nature. The next requisite for the admissibility of a hypothesis is its sufficiency. That is it must determine a priori the consequences which are given in experience and which are supposed to follow from the hypothesis itself.” Kant stresses another aspect when dealing with hypotheses: “It is our duty to try to discover new objections, to put weapons in the hands of our opponent, and to grant him the most favorable position. We have nothing to fear from these concessions; on the contrary, we may rather hope that we shall thus make ourselves master of a possession which no one will ever venture to dispute.”

For Kant's analytical and synthetical judgements and Difference between philosophy and mathematics (Kant, Whitehead) , see Appendices  S1 and S2 , respectively.

Poincaré on hypotheses

The mathematician‐philosopher Poincaré ( 1854 –1912a) explored the foundation of mathematics and physics in his book Science and Hypothesis . In the preface to the book, he summarizes common thinking of scientists at the end of the 19th century. “To the superficial observer scientific truth is unassailable, the logic of science is infallible, and if scientific men sometimes make mistakes, it is because they have not understood the rules of the game. Mathematical truths are derived from a few self‐evident propositions, by a chain of flawless reasoning, they are imposed not only by us, but on Nature itself. This is for the minds of most people the origin of certainty in science.” Poincaré then continues “but upon more mature reflection the position held by hypothesis was seen; it was recognized that it is as necessary to the experimenter as it is to the mathematician. And then the doubt arose if all these constructions are built on solid foundations.” However, “to doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions: both dispense with the necessity of reflection. Instead, we should examine with the utmost care the role of hypothesis; we shall then recognize not only that it is necessary, but that in most cases it is legitimate. We shall also see that there are several kinds of hypotheses; that some are verifiable and when once confirmed by experiment become truths of great fertility; that others may be useful to us in fixing our ideas; and finally that others are hypotheses only in appearance, and reduce to definitions or to conventions in disguise.” Poincaré argues that “we must seek mathematical thought where it has remained pure‐i.e. in arithmetic, in the proofs of the most elementary theorems. The process is proof by recurrence. We first show that a theorem is true for n  = 1; we then show that if it is true for n –1 it is true for n; and we conclude that it is true for all integers. The essential characteristic of reasoning by recurrence is that it contains, condensed in a single formula, an infinite number of syllogisms.” Syllogism is logical argument that applies deductive reasoning to arrive at a conclusion. Poincaré notes “that here is a striking analogy with the usual process of induction. But an essential difference exists. Induction applied to the physical sciences is always uncertain because it is based on the belief in a general order of the universe, an order which is external to us. Mathematical induction‐ i.e. proof by recurrence – is on the contrary, necessarily imposed on us, because it is only the affirmation of a property of the mind itself. No doubt mathematical recurrent reasoning and physical inductive reasoning are based on different foundations, but they move in parallel lines and in the same direction‐namely, from the particular to the general.”

Non‐Euclidian geometry: from Gauss to Lobatschewsky

Mathematics is an abstract science that intrinsically does not request that the structures described reflect a physical reality. Paradoxically, mathematics is the language of physics since the founder of experimental physics Galilei used Euclidian geometry when exploring the laws of the free fall. In his 1623 treatise The Assayer , Galilei ( 1564 –1642a) famously formulated that the book of Nature is written in the language of mathematics, thus establishing a link between formal concepts in mathematics and the structure of the physical world. Euclid's parallel axiom played historically a prominent role for the connection between mathematical concepts and physical realities. Mathematicians had doubted that the parallel axiom was needed and tried to prove it. In Euclidian geometry, there is a connection between the parallel axiom and the sum of the angles in a triangle being two right angles. It is therefore revealing that the famous mathematician C.F. Gauss investigated in the early 19th century experimentally whether this Euclidian theorem applies in nature. He approached this problem by measuring the sum of angles in a real triangle by using geodetic angle measurements of three geographical elevations in the vicinity of Göttingen where he was teaching mathematics. He reportedly measured a sum of the angles in this triangle that differed from 180°. Gauss had at the same time also developed statistical methods to evaluate the accuracy of measurements. Apparently, the difference of his measured angles was still within the interval of Gaussian error propagation. He did not publish the reasoning and the results for this experiment because he feared the outcry of colleagues about this unorthodox, even heretical approach to mathematical reasoning (Carnap,  1891 ‐1970a). However, soon afterwards non‐Euclidian geometries were developed. In the words of Poincaré, “Lobatschewsky assumes at the outset that several parallels may be drawn through a point to a given straight line, and he retains all the other axioms of Euclid. From these hypotheses he deduces a series of theorems between which it is impossible to find any contradiction, and he constructs a geometry as impeccable in its logic as Euclidian geometry. The theorems are very different, however, from those to which we are accustomed, and at first will be found a little disconcerting. For instance, the sum of the angles of a triangle is always less than two right angles, and the difference between that sum and two right angles is proportional to the area of the triangle. Lobatschewsky's propositions have no relation to those of Euclid, but are none the less logically interconnected.” Poincaré continues “most mathematicians regard Lobatschewsky's geometry as a mere logical curiosity. Some of them have, however, gone further. If several geometries are possible, they say, is it certain that our geometry is true? Experiments no doubt teaches us that the sum of the angles of a triangle is equal to two right angles, but this is because the triangles we deal with are too small” (Poincaré,  1854 ‐1912a)—hence the importance of Gauss' geodetic triangulation experiment. Gauss was aware that his three hills experiment was too small and thought on measurements on triangles formed with stars.

Poincaré vs. Einstein

Lobatschewsky's hyperbolic geometry did not remain the only non‐Euclidian geometry. Riemann developed a geometry without the parallel axiom, while the other Euclidian axioms were maintained with the exception of that of Order (Anordnung). Poincaré notes “so there is a kind of opposition between the geometries. For instance the sum of the angles in a triangle is equal to two right angles in Euclid's geometry, less than two right angles in that of Lobatschewsky, and greater than two right angles in that of Riemann. The number of parallel lines that can be drawn through a given point to a given line is one in Euclid's geometry, none in Riemann's, and an infinite number in the geometry of Lobatschewsky. Let us add that Riemann's space is finite, although unbounded.” As further distinction, the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle is equal to π in Euclid's, greater than π in Lobatschewsky's and smaller than π in Riemann's geometry. A further difference between these geometries concerns the degree of curvature (Krümmungsmass k) which is 0 for a Euclidian surface, smaller than 0 for a Lobatschewsky and greater than 0 for a Riemann surface. The difference in curvature can be roughly compared with plane, concave and convex surfaces. The inner geometric structure of a Riemann plane resembles the surface structure of a Euclidean sphere and a Lobatschewsky plane resembles that of a Euclidean pseudosphere (a negatively curved geometry of a saddle). What geometry is true? Poincaré asked “Ought we then, to conclude that the axioms of geometry are experimental truths?” and continues “If geometry were an experimental science, it would not be an exact science. The geometric axioms are therefore neither synthetic a priori intuitions as affirmed by Kant nor experimental facts. They are conventions. Our choice among all possible conventions is guided by experimental facts; but it remains free and is only limited by the necessity of avoiding contradictions. In other words, the axioms of geometry are only definitions in disguise. What then are we to think of the question: Is Euclidean geometry true? It has no meaning. One geometry cannot be more true than another, it can only be more convenient. Now, Euclidean geometry is, and will remain, the most convenient, 1 st because it is the simplest and 2 nd because it sufficiently agrees with the properties of natural bodies” (Poincaré,  1854 ‐1912a).

Poincaré's book was published in 1903 and only a few years later Einstein published his general theory of relativity ( 1916 ) where he used a non‐Euclidean, Riemann geometry and where he demonstrated a structure of space that deviated from Euclidean geometry in the vicinity of strong gravitational fields. And in 1919, astronomical observations during a solar eclipse showed that light rays from a distant star were indeed “bent” when passing next to the sun. These physical observations challenged the view of Poincaré, and we should now address some aspects of hypotheses in physics (Carnap,  1891 ‐1970b).

HYPOTHESES IN PHYSICS

The long life of the five elements hypothesis.

Physical sciences—not to speak of biological sciences — were less developed in antiquity than mathematics which is already demonstrated by the primitive ideas on the elements constituting physical bodies. Plato and Aristotle spoke of the four elements which they took over from Thales (water), Anaximenes (air) and Parmenides (fire and earth) and add a fifth element (quinta essentia, our quintessence), namely ether. Ether is imagined a heavenly element belonging to the supralunar world. In Plato's dialogue Timaios (Plato,  c.424‐c.348 BC a ), the five elements were associated with regular polyhedra in geometry and became known as Platonic bodies: tetrahedron (fire), octahedron (air), cube (earth), icosahedron (water) and dodecahedron (ether). In regular polyhedra, faces are congruent (identical in shape and size), all angles and all edges are congruent, and the same number of faces meet at each vertex. The number of elements is limited to five because in Euclidian space there are exactly five regular polyhedral. There is in Plato's writing even a kind of geometrical chemistry. Since two octahedra (air) plus one tetrahedron (fire) can be combined into one icosahedron (water), these “liquid” elements can combine while this is not the case for combinations with the cube (earth). The 12 faces of the dodecahedron were compared with the 12 zodiac signs (Mittelstrass,  1980e ). This geometry‐based hypothesis of physics had a long life. As late as 1612, Kepler in his Mysterium cosmographicum tried to fit the Platonic bodies into the planetary shells of his solar system model. The ether theory even survived into the scientific discussion of the 19th‐century physics and the idea of a mathematical structure of the universe dominated by symmetry operations even fertilized 20th‐century ideas about symmetry concepts in the physics of elementary particles.

Huygens on sound waves in air

The ether hypothesis figures prominently in the 1690 Treatise on Light from Huygens ( 1617‐1670 ). He first reports on the transmission of sound by air when writing “this may be proved by shutting up a sounding body in a glass vessel from which the air is withdrawn and care was taken to place the sounding body on cotton that it cannot communicate its tremor to the glass vessel which encloses it. After having exhausted all the air, one hears no sound from the metal though it is struck.” Huygens comes up with some foresight when suspecting “the air is of such a nature that it can be compressed and reduced to a much smaller space than that it normally occupies. Air is made up of small bodies which float about and which are agitated very rapidly. So that the spreading of sound is the effort which these little bodies make in collisions with one another, to regain freedom when they are a little more squeezed together in the circuit of these waves than elsewhere.”

Huygens on light waves in ether

“That is not the same air but another kind of matter in which light spreads; since if the air is removed from the vessel the light does not cease to traverse it as before. The extreme velocity of light cannot admit such a propagation of motion” as sound waves. To achieve the propagation of light, Huygens invokes ether “as a substance approaching to perfect hardness and possessing springiness as prompt as we choose. One may conceive light to spread successively by spherical waves. The propagation consists nowise in the transport of those particles but merely in a small agitation which they cannot help communicate to those surrounding.” The hypothesis of an ether in outer space fills libraries of physical discussions, but all experimental approaches led to contradictions with respect to postulated properties of this hypothetical material for example when optical experiments showed that light waves display transversal and not longitudinal oscillations.

The demise of ether

Mechanical models for the transmission of light or gravitation waves requiring ether were finally put to rest by the theory of relativity from Einstein (Mittelstrass,  1980f ). This theory posits that the speed of light in an empty space is constant and does not depend on movements of the source of light or that of an observer as requested by the ether hypothesis. The theory of relativity also provides an answer how the force of gravitation is transmitted from one mass to another across an essentially empty space. In the non‐Euclidian formulation of the theory of relativity (Einstein used the Riemann geometry), there is no gravitation force in the sense of mechanical or electromagnetic forces. The gravitation force is in this formulation simply replaced by a geometric structure (space curvature near high and dense masses) of a four‐dimensional space–time system (Carnap,  1891 ‐1970c; Einstein & Imfeld,  1956 ) Gravitation waves and gravitation lens effects have indeed been experimental demonstrated by astrophysicists (Dorfmüller et al.,  1998 ).

For Aristotle's on physical hypotheses , see Appendix  S3 .

PHILOSOPHICAL THOUGHTS ON HYPOTHESES

In the following, the opinions of a number of famous scientists and philosophers on hypotheses are quoted to provide a historical overview on the subject.

Copernicus' hypothesis: a calculus which fits observations

In his book Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres Copernicus ( 1473–1543 ) reasoned in the preface about hypotheses in physics. “Since the newness of the hypotheses of this work ‐which sets the earth in motion and puts an immovable sun at the center of the universe‐ has already received a great deal of publicity, I have no doubt that certain of the savants have taken great offense.” He defended his heliocentric thesis by stating “For it is the job of the astronomer to use painstaking and skilled observations in gathering together the history of the celestial movements‐ and then – since he cannot by any line of reasoning reach the true causes of these movements‐ to think up or construct whatever causes or hypotheses he pleases such that, by the assumption of these causes, those same movements can be calculated from the principles of geometry for the past and the future too. This artist is markedly outstanding in both of these respects: for it is not necessary that these hypotheses should be true, or even probable; but it is enough if they provide a calculus which fits the observations.” This preface written in 1543 sounds in its arguments very modern physics. However, historians of science have discovered that it was probably written by a theologian friend of Copernicus to defend the book against the criticism by the church.

Bacon's intermediate hypotheses

In his book Novum Organum , Francis Bacon ( 1561–1626 ) claims for hypotheses and scientific reasoning “that they augur well for the sciences, when the ascent shall proceed by a true scale and successive steps, without interruption or breach, from particulars to the lesser axioms, thence to the intermediates and lastly to the most general.” He then notes “that the lowest axioms differ but little from bare experiments, the highest and most general are notional, abstract, and of no real weight. The intermediate are true, solid, full of life, and up to them depend the business and fortune of mankind.” He warns that “we must not then add wings, but rather lead and ballast to the understanding, to prevent its jumping and flying, which has not yet been done; but whenever this takes place we may entertain greater hopes of the sciences.” With respect to methodology, Bacon claims that “we must invent a different form of induction. The induction which proceeds by simple enumeration is puerile, leads to uncertain conclusions, …deciding generally from too small a number of facts. Sciences should separate nature by proper rejections and exclusions and then conclude for the affirmative, after collecting a sufficient number of negatives.”

Gilbert and Descartes for plausible hypotheses

William Gilbert introduced in his book On the Loadstone (Gilbert,  1544‐1603 ) the argument of plausibility into physical hypothesis building. “From these arguments, therefore, we infer not with mere probability, but with certainty, the diurnal rotation of the earth; for nature ever acts with fewer than with many means; and because it is more accordant to reason that the one small body, the earth, should make a daily revolution than the whole universe should be whirled around it.”

Descartes ( 1596‐1650 ) reflected on the sources of understanding in his book Rules for Direction and distinguished what “comes about by impulse, by conjecture, or by deduction. Impulse can assign no reason for their belief and when determined by fanciful disposition, it is almost always a source of error.” When speaking about the working of conjectures he quotes thoughts of Aristotle: “water which is at a greater distance from the center of the globe than earth is likewise less dense substance, and likewise the air which is above the water, is still rarer. Hence, we hazard the guess that above the air nothing exists but a very pure ether which is much rarer than air itself. Moreover nothing that we construct in this way really deceives, if we merely judge it to be probable and never affirm it to be true; in fact it makes us better instructed. Deduction is thus left to us as the only means of putting things together so as to be sure of their truth. Yet in it, too, there may be many defects.”

Care in formulating hypotheses

Locke ( 1632‐1704 ) in his treatise Concerning Human Understanding admits that “we may make use of any probable hypotheses whatsoever. Hypotheses if they are well made are at least great helps to the memory and often direct us to new discoveries. However, we should not take up any one too hastily.” Also, practising scientists argued against careless use of hypotheses and proposed remedies. Lavoisier ( 1743‐1794 ) in the preface to his Element of Chemistry warned about beaten‐track hypotheses. “Instead of applying observation to the things we wished to know, we have chosen rather to imagine them. Advancing from one ill‐founded supposition to another, we have at last bewildered ourselves amidst a multitude of errors. These errors becoming prejudices, are adopted as principles and we thus bewilder ourselves more and more. We abuse words which we do not understand. There is but one remedy: this is to forget all that we have learned, to trace back our ideas to their sources and as Bacon says to frame the human understanding anew.”

Faraday ( 1791–1867 ) in a Speculation Touching Electric Conduction and the Nature of Matter highlighted the fundamental difference between hypotheses and facts when noting “that he has most power of penetrating the secrets of nature, and guessing by hypothesis at her mode of working, will also be most careful for his own safe progress and that of others, to distinguish that knowledge which consists of assumption, by which I mean theory and hypothesis, from that which is the knowledge of facts and laws; never raising the former to the dignity or authority of the latter.”

Explicatory power justifies hypotheses

Darwin ( 1809 –1882a) defended the conclusions and hypothesis of his book The Origin of Species “that species have been modified in a long course of descent. This has been affected chiefly through the natural selection of numerous, slight, favorable variations.” He uses a post hoc argument for this hypothesis: “It can hardly be supposed that a false theory would explain, to so satisfactory a manner as does the theory of natural selection, the several large classes of facts” described in his book.

The natural selection of hypotheses

In the concluding chapter of The Descent of Man Darwin ( 1809 –1882b) admits “that many of the views which have been advanced in this book are highly speculative and some no doubt will prove erroneous.” However, he distinguished that “false facts are highly injurious to the progress of science for they often endure long; but false views do little harm for everyone takes a salutory pleasure in proving their falseness; and when this is done, one path to error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened.”

The American philosopher William James ( 1842–1907 ) concurred with Darwin's view when he wrote in his Principles of Psychology “every scientific conception is in the first instance a spontaneous variation in someone'’s brain. For one that proves useful and applicable there are a thousand that perish through their worthlessness. The scientific conceptions must prove their worth by being verified. This test, however, is the cause of their preservation, not of their production.”

The American philosopher J. Dewey ( 1859‐1952 ) in his treatise Experience and Education notes that “the experimental method of science attaches more importance not less to ideas than do other methods. There is no such thing as experiment in the scientific sense unless action is directed by some leading idea. The fact that the ideas employed are hypotheses, not final truths, is the reason why ideas are more jealously guarded and tested in science than anywhere else. As fixed truths they must be accepted and that is the end of the matter. But as hypotheses, they must be continuously tested and revised, a requirement that demands they be accurately formulated. Ideas or hypotheses are tested by the consequences which they produce when they are acted upon. The method of intelligence manifested in the experimental method demands keeping track of ideas, activities, and observed consequences. Keeping track is a matter of reflective review.”

The reductionist principle

James ( 1842‐1907 ) pushed this idea further when saying “Scientific thought goes by selection. We break the solid plenitude of fact into separate essences, conceive generally what only exists particularly, and by our classifications leave nothing in its natural neighborhood. The reality exists as a plenum. All its part are contemporaneous, but we can neither experience nor think this plenum. What we experience is a chaos of fragmentary impressions, what we think is an abstract system of hypothetical data and laws. We must decompose each chaos into single facts. We must learn to see in the chaotic antecedent a multitude of distinct antecedents, in the chaotic consequent a multitude of distinct consequents.” From these considerations James concluded “even those experiences which are used to prove a scientific truth are for the most part artificial experiences of the laboratory gained after the truth itself has been conjectured. Instead of experiences engendering the inner relations, the inner relations are what engender the experience here.“

Following curiosity

Freud ( 1856–1939 ) considered curiosity and imagination as driving forces of hypothesis building which need to be confronted as quickly as possible with observations. In Beyond the Pleasure Principle , Freud wrote “One may surely give oneself up to a line of thought and follow it up as far as it leads, simply out of scientific curiosity. These innovations were direct translations of observation into theory, subject to no greater sources of error than is inevitable in anything of the kind. At all events there is no way of working out this idea except by combining facts with pure imagination and thereby departing far from observation.” This can quickly go astray when trusting intuition. Freud recommends “that one may inexorably reject theories that are contradicted by the very first steps in the analysis of observation and be aware that those one holds have only a tentative validity.”

Feed‐forward aspects of hypotheses

The geneticist Waddington ( 1905–1975 ) in his essay The Nature of Life states that “a scientific theory cannot remain a mere structure within the world of logic, but must have implications for action and that in two rather different ways. It must involve the consequence that if you do so and so, such and such result will follow. That is to say it must give, or at least offer, the possibility of controlling the process. Secondly, its value is quite largely dependent on its power of suggesting the next step in scientific advance. Any complete piece of scientific work starts with an activity essentially the same as that of an artist. It starts by asking a relevant question. The first step may be a new awareness of some facet of the world that no one else had previously thought worth attending to. Or some new imaginative idea which depends on a sensitive receptiveness to the oddity of nature essentially similar to that of the artist. In his logical analysis and manipulative experimentation, the scientist is behaving arrogantly towards nature, trying to force her into his categories of thought or to trick her into doing what he wants. But finally he has to be humble. He has to take his intuition, his logical theory and his manipulative skill to the bar of Nature and see whether she answers yes or no; and he has to abide by the result. Science is often quite ready to tolerate some logical inadequacy in a theory‐or even a flat logical contradiction like that between the particle and wave theories of matter‐so long as it finds itself in the possession of a hypothesis which offers both the possibility of control and a guide to worthwhile avenues of exploration.”

Poincaré: the dialogue between experiment and hypothesis

Poincaré ( 1854 –1912b) also dealt with physics in Science and Hypothesis . “Experiment is the sole source of truth. It alone can teach us certainty. Cannot we be content with experiment alone? What place is left for mathematical physics? The man of science must work with method. Science is built up of facts, as a house is built of stones, but an accumulation of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house. It is often said that experiments should be made without preconceived concepts. That is impossible. Without the hypothesis, no conclusion could have been drawn; nothing extraordinary would have been seen; and only one fact the more would have been catalogued, without deducing from it the remotest consequence.” Poincaré compares science to a library. Experimental physics alone can enrich the library with new books, but mathematical theoretical physics draw up the catalogue to find the books and to reveal gaps which have to be closed by the purchase of new books.

Poincaré: false, true, fruitful and dangerous hypotheses

Poincaré continues “we all know that there are good and bad experiments. The latter accumulate in vain. Whether there are hundred or thousand, one single piece of work will be sufficient to sweep them into oblivion. Bacon invented the term of an experimentum crucis for such experiments. What then is a good experiment? It is that which teaches us something more than an isolated fact. It is that which enables us to predict and to generalize. Experiments only gives us a certain number of isolated points. They must be connected by a continuous line and that is true generalization. Every generalization is a hypothesis. It should be as soon as possible submitted to verification. If it cannot stand the test, it must be abandoned without any hesitation. The physicist who has just given up one of his hypotheses should rejoice, for he found an unexpected opportunity of discovery. The hypothesis took into account all the known factors which seem capable of intervention in the phenomenon. If it is not verified, it is because there is something unexpected. Has the hypothesis thus rejected been sterile? Far from it. It has rendered more service than a true hypothesis.” Poincaré notes that “with a true hypothesis only one fact the more would have been catalogued, without deducing from it the remotest consequence. It may be said that the wrong hypothesis has rendered more service than a true hypothesis.” However, Poincaré warns that “some hypotheses are dangerous – first and foremost those which are tacit and unconscious. And since we make them without knowing them, we cannot get rid of them.” Poincaré notes that here mathematical physics is of help because by its precision one is compelled to formulate all the hypotheses, revealing also the tacit ones.

Arguments for the reductionist principle

Poincaré also warned against multiplying hypotheses indefinitely: “If we construct a theory upon multiple hypotheses, and if experiment condemns it, which of the premisses must be changed?” Poincaré also recommended to “resolve the complex phenomenon given directly by experiment into a very large number of elementary phenomena. First, with respect to time. Instead of embracing in its entirety the progressive development of a phenomenon, we simply try to connect each moment with the one immediately preceding. Next, we try to decompose the phenomenon in space. We must try to deduce the elementary phenomenon localized in a very small region of space.” Poincaré suggested that the physicist should “be guided by the instinct of simplicity, and that is why in physical science generalization so readily takes the mathematical form to state the problem in the form of an equation.” This argument goes back to Galilei ( 1564 –1642b) who wrote in The Two Sciences “when I observe a stone initially at rest falling from an elevated position and continually acquiring new increments of speed, why should I not believe that such increases take place in a manner which is exceedingly simple and rather obvious to everybody? If now we examine the matter carefully we find no addition or increment more simple than that which repeats itself always in the same manner. It seems we shall not be far wrong if we put the increment of speed as proportional to the increment of time.” With a bit of geometrical reasoning, Galilei deduced that the distance travelled by a freely falling body varies as the square of the time. However, Galilei was not naïve and continued “I grant that these conclusions proved in the abstract will be different when applied in the concrete” and considers disturbances cause by friction and air resistance that complicate the initially conceived simplicity.

Four sequential steps of discovery…

Some philosophers of science attributed a fundamental importance to observations for the acquisition of experience in science. The process starts with accidental observations (Aristotle), going to systematic observations (Bacon), leading to quantitative rules obtained with exact measurements (Newton and Kant) and culminating in observations under artificially created conditions in experiments (Galilei) (Mittelstrass,  1980g ).

…rejected by Popper and Kant

In fact, Newton wrote that he had developed his theory of gravitation from experience followed by induction. K. Popper ( 1902‐1994 ) in his book Conjectures and Refutations did not agree with this logical flow “experience leading to theory” and that for several reasons. This scheme is according to Popper intuitively false because observations are always inexact, while theory makes absolute exact assertions. It is also historically false because Copernicus and Kepler were not led to their theories by experimental observations but by geometry and number theories of Plato and Pythagoras for which they searched verifications in observational data. Kepler, for example, tried to prove the concept of circular planetary movement influenced by Greek theory of the circle being a perfect geometric figure and only when he could not demonstrate this with observational data, he tried elliptical movements. Popper noted that it was Kant who realized that even physical experiments are not prior to theories when quoting Kant's preface to the Critique of Pure Reason : “When Galilei let his globes run down an inclined plane with a gravity which he has chosen himself, then a light dawned on all natural philosophers. They learnt that our reason can only understand what it creates according to its own design; that we must compel Nature to answer our questions, rather than cling to Nature's apron strings and allow her to guide us. For purely accidental observations, made without any plan having been thought out in advance, cannot be connected by a law‐ which is what reason is searching for.” From that reasoning Popper concluded that “we ourselves must confront nature with hypotheses and demand a reply to our questions; and that lacking such hypotheses, we can only make haphazard observations which follow no plan and which can therefore never lead to a natural law. Everyday experience, too, goes far beyond all observations. Everyday experience must interpret observations for without theoretical interpretation, observations remain blind and uninformative. Everyday experience constantly operates with abstract ideas, such as that of cause and effect, and so it cannot be derived from observation.” Popper agreed with Kant who said “Our intellect does not draw its laws from nature…but imposes them on nature”. Popper modifies this statement to “Our intellect does not draw its laws from nature, but tries‐ with varying degrees of success – to impose upon nature laws which it freely invents. Theories are seen to be free creations of our mind, the result of almost poetic intuition. While theories cannot be logically derived from observations, they can, however, clash with observations. This fact makes it possible to infer from observations that a theory is false. The possibility of refuting theories by observations is the basis of all empirical tests. All empirical tests are therefore attempted refutations.”

OUTLOOK: HYPOTHESES IN BIOLOGY

Is biology special.

Waddington notes that “living organisms are much more complicated than the non‐living things. Biology has therefore developed more slowly than sciences such as physics and chemistry and has tended to rely on them for many of its basic ideas. These older physical sciences have provided biology with many firm foundations which have been of the greatest value to it, but throughout most of its history biology has found itself faced with the dilemma as to how far its reliance on physics and chemistry should be pushed” both with respect to its experimental methods and its theoretical foundations. Vitalism is indeed such a theory maintaining that organisms cannot be explained solely by physicochemical laws claiming specific biological forces active in organisms. However, efforts to prove the existence of such vital forces have failed and today most biologists consider vitalism a superseded theory.

Biology as a branch of science is as old as physics. If one takes Aristotle as a reference, he has written more on biology than on physics. Sophisticated animal experiments were already conducted in the antiquity by Galen (Brüssow, 2022 ). Alertus Magnus displayed biological research interest during the medieval time. Knowledge on plants provided the basis of medical drugs in early modern times. What explains biology's decreasing influence compared with the rapid development of physics by Galilei and Newton? One reason is the possibility to use mathematical equations to describe physical phenomena which was not possible for biological phenomena. Physics has from the beginning displayed a trend to few fundamental underlying principles. This is not the case for biology. With the discovery of new continents, biologists were fascinated by the diversity of life. Diversity was the conducting line of biological thinking. This changed only when taxonomists and comparative anatomists revealed recurring pattern in this stunning biological variety and when Darwin provided a theoretical concept to understand variation as a driving force in biology. Even when genetics and molecular biology allowed to understand biology from a few universally shared properties, such as a universal genetic code, biology differed in fundamental aspects from physics and chemistry. First, biology is so far restricted to the planet earth while the laws of physic and chemistry apply in principle to the entire universe. Second, biology is to a great extent a historical discipline; many biological processes cannot be understood from present‐day observations because they are the result of historical developments in evolution. Hence, the importance of Dobzhansky's dictum that nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of evolution. The great diversity of life forms, the complexity of processes occurring in cells and their integration in higher organisms and the importance of a historical past for the understanding of extant organisms, all that has delayed the successful application of mathematical methods in biology or the construction of theoretical frameworks in biology. Theoretical biology by far did not achieve a comparable role as theoretical physics which is on equal foot with experimental physics. Many biologists are even rather sceptical towards a theoretical biology and see progress in the development of ever more sophisticated experimental methods instead in theoretical concepts expressed by new hypotheses.

Knowledge from data without hypothesis?

Philosophers distinguish rational knowledge ( cognitio ex principiis ) from knowledge from data ( cognitio ex data ). Kant associates these two branches with natural sciences and natural history, respectively. The latter with descriptions of natural objects as prominently done with systematic classification of animals and plants or, where it is really history, when describing events in the evolution of life forms on earth. Cognitio ex data thus played a much more prominent role in biology than in physics and explains why the compilation of data and in extremis the collection of museum specimen characterizes biological research. To account for this difference, philosophers of the logical empiricism developed a two‐level concept of science languages consisting of a language of observations (Beobachtungssprache) and a language of theories (Theoriesprache) which are linked by certain rules of correspondence (Korrespondenzregeln) (Carnap,  1891 –1970d). If one looks into leading biological research journals, it becomes clear that biology has a sophisticated language of observation and a much less developed language of theories.

Do we need more philosophical thinking in biology or at least a more vigorous theoretical biology? The breathtaking speed of progress in experimental biology seems to indicate that biology can well develop without much theoretical or philosophical thinking. At the same time, one could argue that some fields in biology might need more theoretical rigour. Microbiologists might think on microbiome research—one of the breakthrough developments of microbiology research in recent years. The field teems with fascinating, but ill‐defined terms (our second genome; holobionts; gut–brain axis; dysbiosis, symbionts; probiotics; health benefits) that call for stricter definitions. One might also argue that biologists should at least consider the criticism of Goethe ( 1749–1832 ), a poet who was also an active scientist. In Faust , the devil ironically teaches biology to a young student.

“Wer will was Lebendigs erkennen und beschreiben, Sucht erst den Geist herauszutreiben, Dann hat er die Teile in seiner Hand, Fehlt, leider! nur das geistige Band.” (To docket living things past any doubt. You cancel first the living spirit out: The parts lie in the hollow of your hand, You only lack the living thing you banned).

We probably need both in biology: more data and more theory and hypotheses.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

The author reports no conflict of interest.

FUNDING INFORMATION

No funding information provided.

Supporting information

Appendix S1

Brüssow, H. (2022) On the role of hypotheses in science . Microbial Biotechnology , 15 , 2687–2698. Available from: 10.1111/1751-7915.14141 [ PMC free article ] [ PubMed ] [ CrossRef ] [ Google Scholar ]

  • Bacon, F. (1561. –1626) Novum Organum. In: Adler, M.J. (Ed.) (editor‐in‐chief) Great books of the western world . Chicago, IL: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. 2nd edition 1992 vol 1–60 (abbreviated below as GBWW) here: GBWW vol. 28: 128. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Brüssow, H. (2022) What is Truth – in science and beyond . Environmental Microbiology , 24 , 2895–2906. [ PubMed ] [ Google Scholar ]
  • Carnap, R. (1891. ‐1970a) Philosophical foundations of physics. Ch. 14 . Basic Books, Inc., New York, 1969. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Carnap, R. (1891. ‐1970b) Philosophical foundations of physics. Ch. 15 . Basic Books, Inc., New York, 1969. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Carnap, R. (1891. ‐1970c) Philosophical foundations of physics. Ch. 16 . Basic Books, Inc., New York, 1969. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Carnap, R. (1891. ‐1970d) Philosophical foundations of physics. Ch. 27–28 . Basic Books, Inc., New York, 1969. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Copernicus . (1473. ‐1543) Revolutions of heavenly spheres . GBWW , vol. 15 , 505–506. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Darwin, C. (1809. ‐1882a) The origin of species . GBWW , vol. 49 : 239. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Darwin, C. (1809. ‐1882b) The descent of man . GBWW , vol. 49 : 590. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Descartes, R. (1596. ‐1650) Rules for direction . GBWW , vol. 28 , 245. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Dewey, J. (1859. –1952) Experience and education . GBWW , vol. 55 , 124. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Dorfmüller, T. , Hering, W.T. & Stierstadt, K. (1998) Bergmann Schäfer Lehrbuch der Experimentalphysik: Band 1 Mechanik, Relativität, Wärme. In: Was ist Schwerkraft: Von Newton zu Einstein . Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter, pp. 197–203. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Einstein, A. (1916) Relativity . GBWW , vol. 56 , 191–243. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Einstein, A. & Imfeld, L. (1956) Die Evolution der Physik . Hamburg: Rowohlts deutsche Enzyklopädie, Rowohlt Verlag. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Euclid . (c.323‐c.283) The elements . GBWW , vol. 10 , 1–2. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Faraday, M. (1791. –1867) Speculation touching electric conduction and the nature of matter . GBWW , 42 , 758–763. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Freud, S. (1856. –1939) Beyond the pleasure principle . GBWW , vol. 54 , 661–662. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Galilei, G. (1564. ‐1642a) The Assayer, as translated by S. Drake (1957) Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo pp. 237–8 abridged pdf at Stanford University .
  • Galilei, G. (1564. ‐1642b) The two sciences . GBWW vol. 26 : 200. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Gilbert, W. (1544. ‐1603) On the Loadstone . GBWW , vol. 26 , 108–110. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Goethe, J.W. (1749. –1832) Faust . GBWW , vol. 45 , 20. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Hilbert, D. (1899) Grundlagen der Geometrie . Leipzig, Germany: Verlag Teubner. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Huygens, C. (1617. ‐1670) Treatise on light . GBWW , vol. 32 , 557–560. [ Google Scholar ]
  • James, W. (1842. –1907) Principles of psychology . GBWW , vol. 53 , 862–866. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Kant, I. (1724. –1804) Critique of pure reason . GBWW , vol. 39 , 227–230. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Lavoisier, A.L. (1743. ‐1794) Element of chemistry . GBWW , vol. 42 , p. 2, 6‐7, 9‐10. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Locke, J. (1632. ‐1704) Concerning Human Understanding . GBWW , vol. 33 , 317–362. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Mittelstrass, J. (1980a) Enzyklopädie Philosophie und Wissenschaftstheorie Bibliographisches Institut Mannheim, Wien, Zürich B.I. Wissenschaftsverlag Vol. 1: 239–241 .
  • Mittelstrass, J. (1980b) Enzyklopädie Philosophie und Wissenschaftstheorie Bibliographisches Institut Mannheim, Wien, Zürich B.I. Wissenschaftsverlag Vol. 3: 307 .
  • Mittelstrass, J. (1980c) Enzyklopädie Philosophie und Wissenschaftstheorie Bibliographisches Institut Mannheim, Wien, Zürich B.I. Wissenschaftsverlag Vol. 1: 439–442 .
  • Mittelstrass, J. (1980d) Enzyklopädie Philosophie und Wissenschaftstheorie Bibliographisches Institut Mannheim, Wien, Zürich B.I. Wissenschaftsverlag Vol. 2: 157–158 .
  • Mittelstrass, J. (1980e) Enzyklopädie Philosophie und Wissenschaftstheorie Bibliographisches Institut Mannheim, Wien, Zürich B.I. Wissenschaftsverlag Vol. 3: 264‐267, 449.450 .
  • Mittelstrass, J. (1980f) Enzyklopädie Philosophie und Wissenschaftstheorie Bibliographisches Institut Mannheim, Wien, Zürich B.I. Wissenschaftsverlag Vol. 1: 209–210 .
  • Mittelstrass, J. (1980g) Enzyklopädie Philosophie und Wissenschaftstheorie Bibliographisches Institut Mannheim, Wien, Zürich B.I. Wissenschaftsverlag Vol. 1: 281–282 .
  • Pascal, B. (1623. ‐1662a) Pensées GBWW vol. 30 : 171–173. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Pascal, B. (1623. ‐1662b) Scientific treatises on geometric demonstrations . GBWW vol. 30 : 442–443. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Plato . (c.424‐c.348 BC a) Timaeus . GBWW , vol. 6 , 442–477. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Poincaré, H. (1854. ‐1912a) Science and hypothesis GBWW , vol. 56 : XV‐XVI, 1–5, 10–15 [ Google Scholar ]
  • Poincaré, H. (1854. ‐1912b) Science and hypothesis GBWW , vol. 56 : 40–52. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Popper, K. (1902. ‐1994) Conjectures and refutations . London and New York, 2002: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge Routledge Classics, pp. 249–261. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Syntopicon . (1992) Hypothesis . GBWW , vol. 1 , 576–587. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Waddington, C.H. (1905. –1975) The nature of life . GBWW , vol. 56 , 697–699. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Get Inspired
  • Announcements

Gemini 1.5 Pro Now Available in 180+ Countries; With Native Audio Understanding, System Instructions, JSON Mode and More

April 09, 2024

what are the features of a good hypothesis (links to an external site )

Grab an API key in Google AI Studio , and get started with the Gemini API Cookbook

Less than two months ago, we made our next-generation Gemini 1.5 Pro model available in Google AI Studio for developers to try out. We’ve been amazed by what the community has been able to debug , create and learn using our groundbreaking 1 million context window.

Today, we’re making Gemini 1.5 Pro available in 180+ countries via the Gemini API in public preview, with a first-ever native audio (speech) understanding capability and a new File API to make it easy to handle files. We’re also launching new features like system instructions and JSON mode to give developers more control over the model’s output. Lastly, we’re releasing our next generation text embedding model that outperforms comparable models. Go to Google AI Studio to create or access your API key, and start building.

Unlock new use cases with audio and video modalities

We’re expanding the input modalities for Gemini 1.5 Pro to include audio (speech) understanding in both the Gemini API and Google AI Studio. Additionally, Gemini 1.5 Pro is now able to reason across both image (frames) and audio (speech) for videos uploaded in Google AI Studio, and we look forward to adding API support for this soon.

Gemini API Improvements

Today, we’re addressing a number of top developer requests:

1. System instructions : Guide the model’s responses with system instructions, now available in Google AI Studio and the Gemini API. Define roles, formats, goals, and rules to steer the model's behavior for your specific use case. Set System Instructions easily in Google AI Studio 2. JSON mode : Instruct the model to only output JSON objects. This mode enables structured data extraction from text or images. You can get started with cURL, and Python SDK support is coming soon. 3. Improvements to function calling : You can now select modes to limit the model’s outputs, improving reliability. Choose text, function call, or just the function itself.

A new embedding model with improved performance

Starting today, developers will be able to access our next generation text embedding model via the Gemini API. The new model, text-embedding-004 , (text-embedding-preview-0409 in Vertex AI ), achieves a stronger retrieval performance and outperforms existing models with comparable dimensions, on the MTEB benchmarks .

These are just the first of many improvements coming to the Gemini API and Google AI Studio in the next few weeks. We’re continuing to work on making Google AI Studio and the Gemini API the easiest way to build with Gemini. Get started today in Google AI Studio with Gemini 1.5 Pro, explore code examples and quickstarts in our new Gemini API Cookbook , and join our community channel on Discord .

IMAGES

  1. Features of Good Hypotheses

    what are the features of a good hypothesis (links to an external site )

  2. Understanding the importance of a research hypothesis

    what are the features of a good hypothesis (links to an external site )

  3. PPT

    what are the features of a good hypothesis (links to an external site )

  4. How to Write a Strong Hypothesis in 6 Simple Steps

    what are the features of a good hypothesis (links to an external site )

  5. How to Write a Hypothesis: Definition, Types, Steps And Ideas

    what are the features of a good hypothesis (links to an external site )

  6. Hypothesis Testing: The 5 Components of a Good Hypothesis

    what are the features of a good hypothesis (links to an external site )

VIDEO

  1. The Good Genes Hypothesis

  2. My hypothesis about the self-projected Projector in Human Design

  3. Qualities of a good hypothesis

  4. M.A 3rd Sem//Education//PGED S3 01//Home Assignment//KKHSOU

  5. Note Of Research Hypothesis, it's Characterstics and importance in Hindi (Bsc Nursing And Gnm)

  6. Hypothesis & It's Types in Malayalam || Part 4 || Research Aptitude || UGC NET

COMMENTS

  1. Developing a Hypothesis

    First, a good hypothesis must be testable and falsifiable. We must be able to test the hypothesis using the methods of science and if you'll recall Popper's falsifiability criterion, it must be possible to gather evidence that will disconfirm the hypothesis if it is indeed false. Second, a good hypothesis must be logical.

  2. How to Write a Strong Hypothesis

    Developing a hypothesis (with example) Step 1. Ask a question. Writing a hypothesis begins with a research question that you want to answer. The question should be focused, specific, and researchable within the constraints of your project. Example: Research question.

  3. 5 Characteristics of a Good Hypothesis: A Guide for Researchers

    Which of the Following Makes a Good Hypothesis. A good hypothesis is characterized by: Testability: The ability to form experiments or gather data to support or refute the hypothesis. Falsifiability: The potential for the hypothesis's predictions to be proven wrong based on empirical evidence.

  4. How to Write a Strong Hypothesis

    Step 5: Phrase your hypothesis in three ways. To identify the variables, you can write a simple prediction in if … then form. The first part of the sentence states the independent variable and the second part states the dependent variable. If a first-year student starts attending more lectures, then their exam scores will improve.

  5. What Are the Elements of a Good Hypothesis?

    A hypothesis is an educated guess or prediction of what will happen. In science, a hypothesis proposes a relationship between factors called variables. A good hypothesis relates an independent variable and a dependent variable. The effect on the dependent variable depends on or is determined by what happens when you change the independent variable.

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

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

  7. Research Hypothesis In Psychology: Types, & Examples

    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.

  8. 2.4: Developing a Hypothesis

    First, a good hypothesis must be testable and falsifiable. We must be able to test the hypothesis using the methods of science and if you'll recall Popper's falsifiability criterion, it must be possible to gather evidence that will disconfirm the hypothesis if it is indeed false. Second, a good hypothesis must be logical.

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

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

  10. A Practical Guide to Writing Quantitative and Qualitative Research

    INTRODUCTION. Scientific research is usually initiated by posing evidenced-based research questions which are then explicitly restated as hypotheses.1,2 The hypotheses provide directions to guide the study, solutions, explanations, and expected results.3,4 Both research questions and hypotheses are essentially formulated based on conventional theories and real-world processes, which allow the ...

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

    Here are some good research hypothesis examples: "The use of a specific type of therapy will lead to a reduction in symptoms of depression in individuals with a history of major depressive disorder.". "Providing educational interventions on healthy eating habits will result in weight loss in overweight individuals.".

  12. Hypothesis: Definition, Examples, and Types

    What is a hypothesis and how can you write a great one for your research? A hypothesis is a tentative statement about the relationship between two or more variables that can be tested empirically. Find out how to formulate a clear, specific, and testable hypothesis with examples and tips from Verywell Mind, a trusted source of psychology and mental health information.

  13. Formulating Hypotheses for Different Study Designs

    Formulating Hypotheses for Different Study Designs. Generating a testable working hypothesis is the first step towards conducting original research. Such research may prove or disprove the proposed hypothesis. Case reports, case series, online surveys and other observational studies, clinical trials, and narrative reviews help to generate ...

  14. Developing a Hypothesis

    First, a good hypothesis must be testable and falsifiable. We must be able to test the hypothesis using the methods of science and if you'll recall Popper's falsifiability criterion, it must be possible to gather evidence that will disconfirm the hypothesis if it is indeed false. Second, a good hypothesis must be logical.

  15. Characteristics Of A Good Hypothesis

    "A hypothesis would be simple if a researcher has more insight towards the problem," P.V. Young states. W-ocean said, "A theory should be as sharp as a razor's blade". As a result, a good hypothesis must be straightforward and devoid of complication. Clarity A hypothesis must have a coherent conceptual foundation.

  16. Scientific Hypotheses: Writing, Promoting, and Predicting Implications

    A snapshot analysis of citation activity of hypothesis articles may reveal interest of the global scientific community towards their implications across various disciplines and countries. As a prime example, Strachan's hygiene hypothesis, published in 1989,10 is still attracting numerous citations on Scopus, the largest bibliographic database ...

  17. Developing Theories & Hypotheses

    There are three general characteristics of a good hypothesis. First, a good hypothesis must be testable and falsifiable. We must be able to test the hypothesis using the methods of science and if you'll recall Popper's falsifiability criterion, it must be possible to gather evidence that will disconfirm the hypothesis if it is indeed false ...

  18. 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 ...

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

    Another example for a directional one-tailed alternative hypothesis would be that. H1: Attending private classes before important exams has a positive effect on performance. Your null hypothesis would then be that. H0: Attending private classes before important exams has no/a negative effect on performance.

  20. Scientific hypothesis

    hypothesis. science. scientific hypothesis, an idea that proposes a tentative explanation about a phenomenon or a narrow set of phenomena observed in the natural world. The two primary features of a scientific hypothesis are falsifiability and testability, which are reflected in an "If…then" statement summarizing the idea and in the ...

  21. 3.1.3: Developing Theories and Hypotheses

    There are three general characteristics of a good hypothesis. First, a good hypothesis must be testable and falsifiable. We must be able to test the hypothesis using the methods of science and if you'll recall Popper's falsifiability criterion, it must be possible to gather evidence that will disconfirm the hypothesis if it is indeed false ...

  22. On the role of hypotheses in science

    Scientific research progresses by the dialectic dialogue between hypothesis building and the experimental testing of these hypotheses. Microbiologists as biologists in general can rely on an increasing set of sophisticated experimental methods for hypothesis testing such that many scientists maintain that progress in biology essentially comes with new experimental tools.

  23. Gemini 1.5 Pro Now Available in 180+ Countries; With Native Audio

    Posted by Jaclyn Konzelmann and Megan Li - Google Labs. Grab an API key in Google AI Studio, and get started with the Gemini API Cookbook. Less than two months ago, we made our next-generation Gemini 1.5 Pro model available in Google AI Studio for developers to try out. We've been amazed by what the community has been able to debug, create and learn using our groundbreaking 1 million context ...