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How to Write a Strong Hypothesis | Guide & Examples

Published on 6 May 2022 by Shona McCombes .

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

Table of contents

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

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

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

Variables in hypotheses

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

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

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Step 1: ask a question.

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

Step 2: Do some preliminary research

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

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

Step 3: Formulate your hypothesis

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

Step 4: Refine your hypothesis

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

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

Step 5: Phrase your hypothesis in three ways

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

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

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

Step 6. Write a null hypothesis

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

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

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

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

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

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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."

how to form a scientific hypothesis

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

how to form a scientific hypothesis

Verywell / Alex Dos Diaz

  • The Scientific Method

Hypothesis Format

Falsifiability of a hypothesis.

  • Operationalization

Hypothesis Types

Hypotheses examples.

  • Collecting Data

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

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

At a Glance

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

The Hypothesis in the Scientific Method

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elements of a Good Hypothesis

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

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

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

How to Formulate a Good Hypothesis

To form a hypothesis, you should take these steps:

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

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

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

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

The Importance of Operational Definitions

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

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

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

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

Replicability

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

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

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

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

Hypothesis Checklist

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

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

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

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

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

A few examples of simple hypotheses:

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

Examples of a complex hypothesis include:

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

Examples of a null hypothesis include:

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

Examples of an alternative hypothesis:

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

Collecting Data on Your Hypothesis

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

Descriptive Research Methods

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

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

Experimental Research Methods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enago Academy

How to Develop a Good Research Hypothesis

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The story of a research study begins by asking a question. Researchers all around the globe are asking curious questions and formulating research hypothesis. However, whether the research study provides an effective conclusion depends on how well one develops a good research hypothesis. Research hypothesis examples could help researchers get an idea as to how to write a good research hypothesis.

This blog will help you understand what is a research hypothesis, its characteristics and, how to formulate a research hypothesis

Table of Contents

What is Hypothesis?

Hypothesis is an assumption or an idea proposed for the sake of argument so that it can be tested. It is a precise, testable statement of what the researchers predict will be outcome of the study.  Hypothesis usually involves proposing a relationship between two variables: the independent variable (what the researchers change) and the dependent variable (what the research measures).

What is a Research Hypothesis?

Research hypothesis is a statement that introduces a research question and proposes an expected result. It is an integral part of the scientific method that forms the basis of scientific experiments. Therefore, you need to be careful and thorough when building your research hypothesis. A minor flaw in the construction of your hypothesis could have an adverse effect on your experiment. In research, there is a convention that the hypothesis is written in two forms, the null hypothesis, and the alternative hypothesis (called the experimental hypothesis when the method of investigation is an experiment).

Characteristics of a Good Research Hypothesis

As the hypothesis is specific, there is a testable prediction about what you expect to happen in a study. You may consider drawing hypothesis from previously published research based on the theory.

A good research hypothesis involves more effort than just a guess. In particular, your hypothesis may begin with a question that could be further explored through background research.

To help you formulate a promising research hypothesis, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the language clear and focused?
  • What is the relationship between your hypothesis and your research topic?
  • Is your hypothesis testable? If yes, then how?
  • What are the possible explanations that you might want to explore?
  • Does your hypothesis include both an independent and dependent variable?
  • Can you manipulate your variables without hampering the ethical standards?
  • Does your research predict the relationship and outcome?
  • Is your research simple and concise (avoids wordiness)?
  • Is it clear with no ambiguity or assumptions about the readers’ knowledge
  • Is your research observable and testable results?
  • Is it relevant and specific to the research question or problem?

research hypothesis example

The questions listed above can be used as a checklist to make sure your hypothesis is based on a solid foundation. Furthermore, it can help you identify weaknesses in your hypothesis and revise it if necessary.

Source: Educational Hub

How to formulate a research hypothesis.

A testable hypothesis is not a simple statement. It is rather an intricate statement that needs to offer a clear introduction to a scientific experiment, its intentions, and the possible outcomes. However, there are some important things to consider when building a compelling hypothesis.

1. State the problem that you are trying to solve.

Make sure that the hypothesis clearly defines the topic and the focus of the experiment.

2. Try to write the hypothesis as an if-then statement.

Follow this template: If a specific action is taken, then a certain outcome is expected.

3. Define the variables

Independent variables are the ones that are manipulated, controlled, or changed. Independent variables are isolated from other factors of the study.

Dependent variables , as the name suggests are dependent on other factors of the study. They are influenced by the change in independent variable.

4. Scrutinize the hypothesis

Evaluate assumptions, predictions, and evidence rigorously to refine your understanding.

Types of Research Hypothesis

The types of research hypothesis are stated below:

1. Simple Hypothesis

It predicts the relationship between a single dependent variable and a single independent variable.

2. Complex Hypothesis

It predicts the relationship between two or more independent and dependent variables.

3. Directional Hypothesis

It specifies the expected direction to be followed to determine the relationship between variables and is derived from theory. Furthermore, it implies the researcher’s intellectual commitment to a particular outcome.

4. Non-directional Hypothesis

It does not predict the exact direction or nature of the relationship between the two variables. The non-directional hypothesis is used when there is no theory involved or when findings contradict previous research.

5. Associative and Causal Hypothesis

The associative hypothesis defines interdependency between variables. A change in one variable results in the change of the other variable. On the other hand, the causal hypothesis proposes an effect on the dependent due to manipulation of the independent variable.

6. Null Hypothesis

Null hypothesis states a negative statement to support the researcher’s findings that there is no relationship between two variables. There will be no changes in the dependent variable due the manipulation of the independent variable. Furthermore, it states results are due to chance and are not significant in terms of supporting the idea being investigated.

7. Alternative Hypothesis

It states that there is a relationship between the two variables of the study and that the results are significant to the research topic. An experimental hypothesis predicts what changes will take place in the dependent variable when the independent variable is manipulated. Also, it states that the results are not due to chance and that they are significant in terms of supporting the theory being investigated.

Research Hypothesis Examples of Independent and Dependent Variables

Research Hypothesis Example 1 The greater number of coal plants in a region (independent variable) increases water pollution (dependent variable). If you change the independent variable (building more coal factories), it will change the dependent variable (amount of water pollution).
Research Hypothesis Example 2 What is the effect of diet or regular soda (independent variable) on blood sugar levels (dependent variable)? If you change the independent variable (the type of soda you consume), it will change the dependent variable (blood sugar levels)

You should not ignore the importance of the above steps. The validity of your experiment and its results rely on a robust testable hypothesis. Developing a strong testable hypothesis has few advantages, it compels us to think intensely and specifically about the outcomes of a study. Consequently, it enables us to understand the implication of the question and the different variables involved in the study. Furthermore, it helps us to make precise predictions based on prior research. Hence, forming a hypothesis would be of great value to the research. Here are some good examples of testable hypotheses.

More importantly, you need to build a robust testable research hypothesis for your scientific experiments. A testable hypothesis is a hypothesis that can be proved or disproved as a result of experimentation.

Importance of a Testable Hypothesis

To devise and perform an experiment using scientific method, you need to make sure that your hypothesis is testable. To be considered testable, some essential criteria must be met:

  • There must be a possibility to prove that the hypothesis is true.
  • There must be a possibility to prove that the hypothesis is false.
  • The results of the hypothesis must be reproducible.

Without these criteria, the hypothesis and the results will be vague. As a result, the experiment will not prove or disprove anything significant.

What are your experiences with building hypotheses for scientific experiments? What challenges did you face? How did you overcome these challenges? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section.

Frequently Asked Questions

The steps to write a research hypothesis are: 1. Stating the problem: Ensure that the hypothesis defines the research problem 2. Writing a hypothesis as an 'if-then' statement: Include the action and the expected outcome of your study by following a ‘if-then’ structure. 3. Defining the variables: Define the variables as Dependent or Independent based on their dependency to other factors. 4. Scrutinizing the hypothesis: Identify the type of your hypothesis

Hypothesis testing is a statistical tool which is used to make inferences about a population data to draw conclusions for a particular hypothesis.

Hypothesis in statistics is a formal statement about the nature of a population within a structured framework of a statistical model. It is used to test an existing hypothesis by studying a population.

Research hypothesis is a statement that introduces a research question and proposes an expected result. It forms the basis of scientific experiments.

The different types of hypothesis in research are: • Null hypothesis: Null hypothesis is a negative statement to support the researcher’s findings that there is no relationship between two variables. • Alternate hypothesis: Alternate hypothesis predicts the relationship between the two variables of the study. • Directional hypothesis: Directional hypothesis specifies the expected direction to be followed to determine the relationship between variables. • Non-directional hypothesis: Non-directional hypothesis does not predict the exact direction or nature of the relationship between the two variables. • Simple hypothesis: Simple hypothesis predicts the relationship between a single dependent variable and a single independent variable. • Complex hypothesis: Complex hypothesis predicts the relationship between two or more independent and dependent variables. • Associative and casual hypothesis: Associative and casual hypothesis predicts the relationship between two or more independent and dependent variables. • Empirical hypothesis: Empirical hypothesis can be tested via experiments and observation. • Statistical hypothesis: A statistical hypothesis utilizes statistical models to draw conclusions about broader populations.

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Wow! You really simplified your explanation that even dummies would find it easy to comprehend. Thank you so much.

Thanks a lot for your valuable guidance.

I enjoy reading the post. Hypotheses are actually an intrinsic part in a study. It bridges the research question and the methodology of the study.

Useful piece!

This is awesome.Wow.

It very interesting to read the topic, can you guide me any specific example of hypothesis process establish throw the Demand and supply of the specific product in market

Nicely explained

It is really a useful for me Kindly give some examples of hypothesis

It was a well explained content ,can you please give me an example with the null and alternative hypothesis illustrated

clear and concise. thanks.

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Explained well and in simple terms. Quick read! Thank you

It awesome. It has really positioned me in my research project

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Biology library

Course: biology library   >   unit 1, the scientific method.

  • Controlled experiments
  • The scientific method and experimental design

Introduction

  • Make an observation.
  • Ask a question.
  • Form a hypothesis , or testable explanation.
  • Make a prediction based on the hypothesis.
  • Test the prediction.
  • Iterate: use the results to make new hypotheses or predictions.

Scientific method example: Failure to toast

1. make an observation..

  • Observation: the toaster won't toast.

2. Ask a question.

  • Question: Why won't my toaster toast?

3. Propose a hypothesis.

  • Hypothesis: Maybe the outlet is broken.

4. Make predictions.

  • Prediction: If I plug the toaster into a different outlet, then it will toast the bread.

5. Test the predictions.

  • Test of prediction: Plug the toaster into a different outlet and try again.
  • If the toaster does toast, then the hypothesis is supported—likely correct.
  • If the toaster doesn't toast, then the hypothesis is not supported—likely wrong.

Logical possibility

Practical possibility, building a body of evidence, 6. iterate..

  • Iteration time!
  • If the hypothesis was supported, we might do additional tests to confirm it, or revise it to be more specific. For instance, we might investigate why the outlet is broken.
  • If the hypothesis was not supported, we would come up with a new hypothesis. For instance, the next hypothesis might be that there's a broken wire in the toaster.

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

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Table of Contents

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

What is a Hypothesis in Research?

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

Research Question vs Hypothesis

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

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

How to Write Hypothesis in Research

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

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

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

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

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

Research Hypothesis Example

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

Here are a few generic examples to get you started.

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

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

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

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

Language Editing Plus

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

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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.

how to form a scientific hypothesis

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Scientific Hypotheses: Writing, Promoting, and Predicting Implications

Armen yuri gasparyan.

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

Lilit Ayvazyan

2 Department of Medical Chemistry, Yerevan State Medical University, Yerevan, Armenia.

Ulzhan Mukanova

3 Department of Surgical Disciplines, South Kazakhstan Medical Academy, Shymkent, Kazakhstan.

Marlen Yessirkepov

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

George D. Kitas

5 Arthritis Research UK Epidemiology Unit, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.

Scientific hypotheses are essential for progress in rapidly developing academic disciplines. Proposing new ideas and hypotheses require thorough analyses of evidence-based data and predictions of the implications. One of the main concerns relates to the ethical implications of the generated hypotheses. The authors may need to outline potential benefits and limitations of their suggestions and target widely visible publication outlets to ignite discussion by experts and start testing the hypotheses. Not many publication outlets are currently welcoming hypotheses and unconventional ideas that may open gates to criticism and conservative remarks. A few scholarly journals guide the authors on how to structure hypotheses. Reflecting on general and specific issues around the subject matter is often recommended for drafting a well-structured hypothesis article. An analysis of influential hypotheses, presented in this article, particularly Strachan's hygiene hypothesis with global implications in the field of immunology and allergy, points to the need for properly interpreting and testing new suggestions. Envisaging the ethical implications of the hypotheses should be considered both by authors and journal editors during the writing and publishing process.

INTRODUCTION

We live in times of digitization that radically changes scientific research, reporting, and publishing strategies. Researchers all over the world are overwhelmed with processing large volumes of information and searching through numerous online platforms, all of which make the whole process of scholarly analysis and synthesis complex and sophisticated.

Current research activities are diversifying to combine scientific observations with analysis of facts recorded by scholars from various professional backgrounds. 1 Citation analyses and networking on social media are also becoming essential for shaping research and publishing strategies globally. 2 Learning specifics of increasingly interdisciplinary research studies and acquiring information facilitation skills aid researchers in formulating innovative ideas and predicting developments in interrelated scientific fields.

Arguably, researchers are currently offered more opportunities than in the past for generating new ideas by performing their routine laboratory activities, observing individual cases and unusual developments, and critically analyzing published scientific facts. What they need at the start of their research is to formulate a scientific hypothesis that revisits conventional theories, real-world processes, and related evidence to propose new studies and test ideas in an ethical way. 3 Such a hypothesis can be of most benefit if published in an ethical journal with wide visibility and exposure to relevant online databases and promotion platforms.

Although hypotheses are crucially important for the scientific progress, only few highly skilled researchers formulate and eventually publish their innovative ideas per se . Understandably, in an increasingly competitive research environment, most authors would prefer to prioritize their ideas by discussing and conducting tests in their own laboratories or clinical departments, and publishing research reports afterwards. However, there are instances when simple observations and research studies in a single center are not capable of explaining and testing new groundbreaking ideas. Formulating hypothesis articles first and calling for multicenter and interdisciplinary research can be a solution in such instances, potentially launching influential scientific directions, if not academic disciplines.

The aim of this article is to overview the importance and implications of infrequently published scientific hypotheses that may open new avenues of thinking and research.

Despite the seemingly established views on innovative ideas and hypotheses as essential research tools, no structured definition exists to tag the term and systematically track related articles. In 1973, the Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) of the U.S. National Library of Medicine introduced “Research Design” as a structured keyword that referred to the importance of collecting data and properly testing hypotheses, and indirectly linked the term to ethics, methods and standards, among many other subheadings.

One of the experts in the field defines “hypothesis” as a well-argued analysis of available evidence to provide a realistic (scientific) explanation of existing facts, fill gaps in public understanding of sophisticated processes, and propose a new theory or a test. 4 A hypothesis can be proven wrong partially or entirely. However, even such an erroneous hypothesis may influence progress in science by initiating professional debates that help generate more realistic ideas. The main ethical requirement for hypothesis authors is to be honest about the limitations of their suggestions. 5

EXAMPLES OF INFLUENTIAL SCIENTIFIC HYPOTHESES

Daily routine in a research laboratory may lead to groundbreaking discoveries provided the daily accounts are comprehensively analyzed and reproduced by peers. The discovery of penicillin by Sir Alexander Fleming (1928) can be viewed as a prime example of such discoveries that introduced therapies to treat staphylococcal and streptococcal infections and modulate blood coagulation. 6 , 7 Penicillin got worldwide recognition due to the inventor's seminal works published by highly prestigious and widely visible British journals, effective ‘real-world’ antibiotic therapy of pneumonia and wounds during World War II, and euphoric media coverage. 8 In 1945, Fleming, Florey and Chain got a much deserved Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery that led to the mass production of the wonder drug in the U.S. and ‘real-world practice’ that tested the use of penicillin. What remained globally unnoticed is that Zinaida Yermolyeva, the outstanding Soviet microbiologist, created the Soviet penicillin, which turned out to be more effective than the Anglo-American penicillin and entered mass production in 1943; that year marked the turning of the tide of the Great Patriotic War. 9 One of the reasons of the widely unnoticed discovery of Zinaida Yermolyeva is that her works were published exclusively by local Russian (Soviet) journals.

The past decades have been marked by an unprecedented growth of multicenter and global research studies involving hundreds and thousands of human subjects. This trend is shaped by an increasing number of reports on clinical trials and large cohort studies that create a strong evidence base for practice recommendations. Mega-studies may help generate and test large-scale hypotheses aiming to solve health issues globally. Properly designed epidemiological studies, for example, may introduce clarity to the hygiene hypothesis that was originally proposed by David Strachan in 1989. 10 David Strachan studied the epidemiology of hay fever in a cohort of 17,414 British children and concluded that declining family size and improved personal hygiene had reduced the chances of cross infections in families, resulting in epidemics of atopic disease in post-industrial Britain. Over the past four decades, several related hypotheses have been proposed to expand the potential role of symbiotic microorganisms and parasites in the development of human physiological immune responses early in life and protection from allergic and autoimmune diseases later on. 11 , 12 Given the popularity and the scientific importance of the hygiene hypothesis, it was introduced as a MeSH term in 2012. 13

Hypotheses can be proposed based on an analysis of recorded historic events that resulted in mass migrations and spreading of certain genetic diseases. As a prime example, familial Mediterranean fever (FMF), the prototype periodic fever syndrome, is believed to spread from Mesopotamia to the Mediterranean region and all over Europe due to migrations and religious prosecutions millennia ago. 14 Genetic mutations spearing mild clinical forms of FMF are hypothesized to emerge and persist in the Mediterranean region as protective factors against more serious infectious diseases, particularly tuberculosis, historically common in that part of the world. 15 The speculations over the advantages of carrying the MEditerranean FeVer (MEFV) gene are further strengthened by recorded low mortality rates from tuberculosis among FMF patients of different nationalities living in Tunisia in the first half of the 20th century. 16

Diagnostic hypotheses shedding light on peculiarities of diseases throughout the history of mankind can be formulated using artefacts, particularly historic paintings. 17 Such paintings may reveal joint deformities and disfigurements due to rheumatic diseases in individual subjects. A series of paintings with similar signs of pathological conditions interpreted in a historic context may uncover mysteries of epidemics of certain diseases, which is the case with Ruben's paintings depicting signs of rheumatic hands and making some doctors to believe that rheumatoid arthritis was common in Europe in the 16th and 17th century. 18

WRITING SCIENTIFIC HYPOTHESES

There are author instructions of a few journals that specifically guide how to structure, format, and make submissions categorized as hypotheses attractive. One of the examples is presented by Med Hypotheses , the flagship journal in its field with more than four decades of publishing and influencing hypothesis authors globally. However, such guidance is not based on widely discussed, implemented, and approved reporting standards, which are becoming mandatory for all scholarly journals.

Generating new ideas and scientific hypotheses is a sophisticated task since not all researchers and authors are skilled to plan, conduct, and interpret various research studies. Some experience with formulating focused research questions and strong working hypotheses of original research studies is definitely helpful for advancing critical appraisal skills. However, aspiring authors of scientific hypotheses may need something different, which is more related to discerning scientific facts, pooling homogenous data from primary research works, and synthesizing new information in a systematic way by analyzing similar sets of articles. To some extent, this activity is reminiscent of writing narrative and systematic reviews. As in the case of reviews, scientific hypotheses need to be formulated on the basis of comprehensive search strategies to retrieve all available studies on the topics of interest and then synthesize new information selectively referring to the most relevant items. One of the main differences between scientific hypothesis and review articles relates to the volume of supportive literature sources ( Table 1 ). In fact, hypothesis is usually formulated by referring to a few scientific facts or compelling evidence derived from a handful of literature sources. 19 By contrast, reviews require analyses of a large number of published documents retrieved from several well-organized and evidence-based databases in accordance with predefined search strategies. 20 , 21 , 22

The format of hypotheses, especially the implications part, may vary widely across disciplines. Clinicians may limit their suggestions to the clinical manifestations of diseases, outcomes, and management strategies. Basic and laboratory scientists analysing genetic, molecular, and biochemical mechanisms may need to view beyond the frames of their narrow fields and predict social and population-based implications of the proposed ideas. 23

Advanced writing skills are essential for presenting an interesting theoretical article which appeals to the global readership. Merely listing opposing facts and ideas, without proper interpretation and analysis, may distract the experienced readers. The essence of a great hypothesis is a story behind the scientific facts and evidence-based data.

ETHICAL IMPLICATIONS

The authors of hypotheses substantiate their arguments by referring to and discerning rational points from published articles that might be overlooked by others. Their arguments may contradict the established theories and practices, and pose global ethical issues, particularly when more or less efficient medical technologies and public health interventions are devalued. The ethical issues may arise primarily because of the careless references to articles with low priorities, inadequate and apparently unethical methodologies, and concealed reporting of negative results. 24 , 25

Misinterpretation and misunderstanding of the published ideas and scientific hypotheses may complicate the issue further. For example, Alexander Fleming, whose innovative ideas of penicillin use to kill susceptible bacteria saved millions of lives, warned of the consequences of uncontrolled prescription of the drug. The issue of antibiotic resistance had emerged within the first ten years of penicillin use on a global scale due to the overprescription that affected the efficacy of antibiotic therapies, with undesirable consequences for millions. 26

The misunderstanding of the hygiene hypothesis that primarily aimed to shed light on the role of the microbiome in allergic and autoimmune diseases resulted in decline of public confidence in hygiene with dire societal implications, forcing some experts to abandon the original idea. 27 , 28 Although that hypothesis is unrelated to the issue of vaccinations, the public misunderstanding has resulted in decline of vaccinations at a time of upsurge of old and new infections.

A number of ethical issues are posed by the denial of the viral (human immunodeficiency viruses; HIV) hypothesis of acquired Immune deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) by Peter Duesberg, who overviewed the links between illicit recreational drugs and antiretroviral therapies with AIDS and refuted the etiological role of HIV. 29 That controversial hypothesis was rejected by several journals, but was eventually published without external peer review at Med Hypotheses in 2010. The publication itself raised concerns of the unconventional editorial policy of the journal, causing major perturbations and more scrutinized publishing policies by journals processing hypotheses.

WHERE TO PUBLISH HYPOTHESES

Although scientific authors are currently well informed and equipped with search tools to draft evidence-based hypotheses, there are still limited quality publication outlets calling for related articles. The journal editors may be hesitant to publish articles that do not adhere to any research reporting guidelines and open gates for harsh criticism of unconventional and untested ideas. Occasionally, the editors opting for open-access publishing and upgrading their ethics regulations launch a section to selectively publish scientific hypotheses attractive to the experienced readers. 30 However, the absence of approved standards for this article type, particularly no mandate for outlining potential ethical implications, may lead to publication of potentially harmful ideas in an attractive format.

A suggestion of simultaneously publishing multiple or alternative hypotheses to balance the reader views and feedback is a potential solution for the mainstream scholarly journals. 31 However, that option alone is hardly applicable to emerging journals with unconventional quality checks and peer review, accumulating papers with multiple rejections by established journals.

A large group of experts view hypotheses with improbable and controversial ideas publishable after formal editorial (in-house) checks to preserve the authors' genuine ideas and avoid conservative amendments imposed by external peer reviewers. 32 That approach may be acceptable for established publishers with large teams of experienced editors. However, the same approach can lead to dire consequences if employed by nonselective start-up, open-access journals processing all types of articles and primarily accepting those with charged publication fees. 33 In fact, pseudoscientific ideas arguing Newton's and Einstein's seminal works or those denying climate change that are hardly testable have already found their niche in substandard electronic journals with soft or nonexistent peer review. 34

CITATIONS AND SOCIAL MEDIA ATTENTION

The available preliminary evidence points to the attractiveness of hypothesis articles for readers, particularly those from research-intensive countries who actively download related documents. 35 However, citations of such articles are disproportionately low. Only a small proportion of top-downloaded hypotheses (13%) in the highly prestigious Med Hypotheses receive on average 5 citations per article within a two-year window. 36

With the exception of a few historic papers, the vast majority of hypotheses attract relatively small number of citations in a long term. 36 Plausible explanations are that these articles often contain a single or only a few citable points and that suggested research studies to test hypotheses are rarely conducted and reported, limiting chances of citing and crediting authors of genuine research ideas.

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. As of August 28, 2019, the number of the linked citations in the database is 3,201. Of the citing articles, 160 are cited at least 160 times ( h -index of this research topic = 160). The first three citations are recorded in 1992 and followed by a rapid annual increase in citation activity and a peak of 212 in 2015 ( Fig. 1 ). The top 5 sources of the citations are Clin Exp Allergy (n = 136), J Allergy Clin Immunol (n = 119), Allergy (n = 81), Pediatr Allergy Immunol (n = 69), and PLOS One (n = 44). The top 5 citing authors are leading experts in pediatrics and allergology Erika von Mutius (Munich, Germany, number of publications with the index citation = 30), Erika Isolauri (Turku, Finland, n = 27), Patrick G Holt (Subiaco, Australia, n = 25), David P. Strachan (London, UK, n = 23), and Bengt Björksten (Stockholm, Sweden, n = 22). The U.S. is the leading country in terms of citation activity with 809 related documents, followed by the UK (n = 494), Germany (n = 314), Australia (n = 211), and the Netherlands (n = 177). The largest proportion of citing documents are articles (n = 1,726, 54%), followed by reviews (n = 950, 29.7%), and book chapters (n = 213, 6.7%). The main subject areas of the citing items are medicine (n = 2,581, 51.7%), immunology and microbiology (n = 1,179, 23.6%), and biochemistry, genetics and molecular biology (n = 415, 8.3%).

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Interestingly, a recent analysis of 111 publications related to Strachan's hygiene hypothesis, stating that the lack of exposure to infections in early life increases the risk of rhinitis, revealed a selection bias of 5,551 citations on Web of Science. 37 The articles supportive of the hypothesis were cited more than nonsupportive ones (odds ratio adjusted for study design, 2.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.6–3.1). A similar conclusion pointing to a citation bias distorting bibliometrics of hypotheses was reached by an earlier analysis of a citation network linked to the idea that β-amyloid, which is involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease, is produced by skeletal muscle of patients with inclusion body myositis. 38 The results of both studies are in line with the notion that ‘positive’ citations are more frequent in the field of biomedicine than ‘negative’ ones, and that citations to articles with proven hypotheses are too common. 39

Social media channels are playing an increasingly active role in the generation and evaluation of scientific hypotheses. In fact, publicly discussing research questions on platforms of news outlets, such as Reddit, may shape hypotheses on health-related issues of global importance, such as obesity. 40 Analyzing Twitter comments, researchers may reveal both potentially valuable ideas and unfounded claims that surround groundbreaking research ideas. 41 Social media activities, however, are unevenly distributed across different research topics, journals and countries, and these are not always objective professional reflections of the breakthroughs in science. 2 , 42

Scientific hypotheses are essential for progress in science and advances in healthcare. Innovative ideas should be based on a critical overview of related scientific facts and evidence-based data, often overlooked by others. To generate realistic hypothetical theories, the authors should comprehensively analyze the literature and suggest relevant and ethically sound design for future studies. They should also consider their hypotheses in the context of research and publication ethics norms acceptable for their target journals. The journal editors aiming to diversify their portfolio by maintaining and introducing hypotheses section are in a position to upgrade guidelines for related articles by pointing to general and specific analyses of the subject, preferred study designs to test hypotheses, and ethical implications. The latter is closely related to specifics of hypotheses. For example, editorial recommendations to outline benefits and risks of a new laboratory test or therapy may result in a more balanced article and minimize associated risks afterwards.

Not all scientific hypotheses have immediate positive effects. Some, if not most, are never tested in properly designed research studies and never cited in credible and indexed publication outlets. Hypotheses in specialized scientific fields, particularly those hardly understandable for nonexperts, lose their attractiveness for increasingly interdisciplinary audience. The authors' honest analysis of the benefits and limitations of their hypotheses and concerted efforts of all stakeholders in science communication to initiate public discussion on widely visible platforms and social media may reveal rational points and caveats of the new ideas.

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

Author Contributions:

  • Conceptualization: Gasparyan AY, Yessirkepov M, Kitas GD.
  • Methodology: Gasparyan AY, Mukanova U, Ayvazyan L.
  • Writing - original draft: Gasparyan AY, Ayvazyan L, Yessirkepov M.
  • Writing - review & editing: Gasparyan AY, Yessirkepov M, Mukanova U, Kitas GD.

Learn How To Write A Hypothesis For Your Next Research Project!

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Undoubtedly, research plays a crucial role in substantiating or refuting our assumptions. These assumptions act as potential answers to our questions. Such assumptions, also known as hypotheses, are considered key aspects of research. In this blog, we delve into the significance of hypotheses. And provide insights on how to write them effectively. So, let’s dive in and explore the art of writing hypotheses together.

Table of Contents

What is a Hypothesis?

A hypothesis is a crucial starting point in scientific research. It is an educated guess about the relationship between two or more variables. In other words, a hypothesis acts as a foundation for a researcher to build their study.

Here are some examples of well-crafted hypotheses:

  • Increased exposure to natural sunlight improves sleep quality in adults.

A positive relationship between natural sunlight exposure and sleep quality in adult individuals.

  • Playing puzzle games on a regular basis enhances problem-solving abilities in children.

Engaging in frequent puzzle gameplay leads to improved problem-solving skills in children.

  • Students and improved learning hecks.

S tudents using online  paper writing service  platforms (as a learning tool for receiving personalized feedback and guidance) will demonstrate improved writing skills. (compared to those who do not utilize such platforms).

  • The use of APA format in research papers. 

Using the  APA format  helps students stay organized when writing research papers. Organized students can focus better on their topics and, as a result, produce better quality work.

The Building Blocks of a Hypothesis

To better understand the concept of a hypothesis, let’s break it down into its basic components:

  • Variables . A hypothesis involves at least two variables. An independent variable and a dependent variable. The independent variable is the one being changed or manipulated, while the dependent variable is the one being measured or observed.
  • Relationship : A hypothesis proposes a relationship or connection between the variables. This could be a cause-and-effect relationship or a correlation between them.
  • Testability : A hypothesis should be testable and falsifiable, meaning it can be proven right or wrong through experimentation or observation.

Types of Hypotheses

When learning how to write a hypothesis, it’s essential to understand its main types. These include; alternative hypotheses and null hypotheses. In the following section, we explore both types of hypotheses with examples. 

Alternative Hypothesis (H1)

This kind of hypothesis suggests a relationship or effect between the variables. It is the main focus of the study. The researcher wants to either prove or disprove it. Many research divides this hypothesis into two subsections: 

  • Directional 

This type of H1 predicts a specific outcome. Many researchers use this hypothesis to explore the relationship between variables rather than the groups. 

  • Non-directional

You can take a guess from the name. This type of H1 does not provide a specific prediction for the research outcome. 

Here are some examples for your better understanding of how to write a hypothesis.

  • Consuming caffeine improves cognitive performance.  (This hypothesis predicts that there is a positive relationship between caffeine consumption and cognitive performance.)
  • Aerobic exercise leads to reduced blood pressure.  (This hypothesis suggests that engaging in aerobic exercise results in lower blood pressure readings.)
  • Exposure to nature reduces stress levels among employees.  (Here, the hypothesis proposes that employees exposed to natural environments will experience decreased stress levels.)
  • Listening to classical music while studying increases memory retention.  (This hypothesis speculates that studying with classical music playing in the background boosts students’ ability to retain information.)
  • Early literacy intervention improves reading skills in children.  (This hypothesis claims that providing early literacy assistance to children results in enhanced reading abilities.)
  • Time management in nursing students. ( Students who use a  nursing research paper writing service  have more time to focus on their studies and can achieve better grades in other subjects. )

Null Hypothesis (H0)

A null hypothesis assumes no relationship or effect between the variables. If the alternative hypothesis is proven to be false, the null hypothesis is considered to be true. Usually a null hypothesis shows no direct correlation between the defined variables. 

Here are some of the examples

  • The consumption of herbal tea has no effect on sleep quality.  (This hypothesis assumes that herbal tea consumption does not impact the quality of sleep.)
  • The number of hours spent playing video games is unrelated to academic performance.  (Here, the null hypothesis suggests that no relationship exists between video gameplay duration and academic achievement.)
  • Implementing flexible work schedules has no influence on employee job satisfaction.  (This hypothesis contends that providing flexible schedules does not affect how satisfied employees are with their jobs.)
  • Writing ability of a 7th grader is not affected by reading editorial example. ( There is no relationship between reading an  editorial example  and improving a 7th grader’s writing abilities.) 
  • The type of lighting in a room does not affect people’s mood.  (In this null hypothesis, there is no connection between the kind of lighting in a room and the mood of those present.)
  • The use of social media during break time does not impact productivity at work.  (This hypothesis proposes that social media usage during breaks has no effect on work productivity.)

As you learn how to write a hypothesis, remember that aiming for clarity, testability, and relevance to your research question is vital. By mastering this skill, you’re well on your way to conducting impactful scientific research. Good luck!

Importance of a Hypothesis in Research

A well-structured hypothesis is a vital part of any research project for several reasons:

  • It provides clear direction for the study by setting its focus and purpose.
  • It outlines expectations of the research, making it easier to measure results.
  • It helps identify any potential limitations in the study, allowing researchers to refine their approach.

In conclusion, a hypothesis plays a fundamental role in the research process. By understanding its concept and constructing a well-thought-out hypothesis, researchers lay the groundwork for a successful, scientifically sound investigation.

How to Write a Hypothesis?

Here are five steps that you can follow to write an effective hypothesis. 

Step 1: Identify Your Research Question

The first step in learning how to compose a hypothesis is to clearly define your research question. This question is the central focus of your study and will help you determine the direction of your hypothesis.

Step 2: Determine the Variables

When exploring how to write a hypothesis, it’s crucial to identify the variables involved in your study. You’ll need at least two variables:

  • Independent variable : The factor you manipulate or change in your experiment.
  • Dependent variable : The outcome or result you observe or measure, which is influenced by the independent variable.

Step 3: Build the Hypothetical Relationship

In understanding how to compose a hypothesis, constructing the relationship between the variables is key. Based on your research question and variables, predict the expected outcome or connection. This prediction should be specific, testable, and, if possible, expressed in the “If…then” format.

Step 4: Write the Null Hypothesis

When mastering how to write a hypothesis, it’s important to create a null hypothesis as well. The null hypothesis assumes no relationship or effect between the variables, acting as a counterpoint to your primary hypothesis.

Step 5: Review Your Hypothesis

Finally, when learning how to compose a hypothesis, it’s essential to review your hypothesis for clarity, testability, and relevance to your research question. Make any necessary adjustments to ensure it provides a solid basis for your study.

In conclusion, understanding how to write a hypothesis is crucial for conducting successful scientific research. By focusing on your research question and carefully building relationships between variables, you will lay a strong foundation for advancing research and knowledge in your field.

Hypothesis vs. Prediction: What’s the Difference?

Understanding the differences between a hypothesis and a prediction is crucial in scientific research. Often, these terms are used interchangeably, but they have distinct meanings and functions. This segment aims to clarify these differences and explain how to compose a hypothesis correctly, helping you improve the quality of your research projects.

Hypothesis: The Foundation of Your Research

A hypothesis is an educated guess about the relationship between two or more variables. It provides the basis for your research question and is a starting point for an experiment or observational study.

The critical elements for a hypothesis include:

  • Specificity: A clear and concise statement that describes the relationship between variables.
  • Testability: The ability to test the hypothesis through experimentation or observation.

To learn how to write a hypothesis, it’s essential to identify your research question first and then predict the relationship between the variables.

Prediction: The Expected Outcome

A prediction is a statement about a specific outcome you expect to see in your experiment or observational study. It’s derived from the hypothesis and provides a measurable way to test the relationship between variables.

Here’s an example of how to write a hypothesis and a related prediction:

  • Hypothesis: Consuming a high-sugar diet leads to weight gain.
  • Prediction: People who consume a high-sugar diet for six weeks will gain more weight than those who maintain a low-sugar diet during the same period.

Key Differences Between a Hypothesis and a Prediction

While a hypothesis and prediction are both essential components of scientific research, there are some key differences to keep in mind:

  • A hypothesis is an educated guess that suggests a relationship between variables, while a prediction is a specific and measurable outcome based on that hypothesis.
  • A hypothesis can give rise to multiple experiment or observational study predictions.

To conclude, understanding the differences between a hypothesis and a prediction, and learning how to write a hypothesis, are essential steps to form a robust foundation for your research. By creating clear, testable hypotheses along with specific, measurable predictions, you lay the groundwork for scientifically sound investigations.

Here’s a wrap-up for this guide on how to write a hypothesis. We’re confident this article was helpful for many of you. We understand that many students struggle with writing their school research . However, we hope to continue assisting you through our blog tutorial on writing different aspects of academic assignments.

For further information, you can check out our reverent blog or contact our professionals to avail amazing writing services. Paper perk experts tailor assignments to reflect your unique voice and perspectives. Our professionals make sure to stick around till your satisfaction. So what are you waiting for? Pick your required service and order away!

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how to form a scientific hypothesis

How to Write a Hypothesis: A Step-by-Step Guide

how to form a scientific hypothesis

Introduction

An overview of the research hypothesis, different types of hypotheses, variables in a hypothesis, how to formulate an effective research hypothesis, designing a study around your hypothesis.

The scientific method can derive and test predictions as hypotheses. Empirical research can then provide support (or lack thereof) for the hypotheses. Even failure to find support for a hypothesis still represents a valuable contribution to scientific knowledge. Let's look more closely at the idea of the hypothesis and the role it plays in research.

how to form a scientific hypothesis

As much as the term exists in everyday language, there is a detailed development that informs the word "hypothesis" when applied to research. A good research hypothesis is informed by prior research and guides research design and data analysis , so it is important to understand how a hypothesis is defined and understood by researchers.

What is the simple definition of a hypothesis?

A hypothesis is a testable prediction about an outcome between two or more variables . It functions as a navigational tool in the research process, directing what you aim to predict and how.

What is the hypothesis for in research?

In research, a hypothesis serves as the cornerstone for your empirical study. It not only lays out what you aim to investigate but also provides a structured approach for your data collection and analysis.

Essentially, it bridges the gap between the theoretical and the empirical, guiding your investigation throughout its course.

how to form a scientific hypothesis

What is an example of a hypothesis?

If you are studying the relationship between physical exercise and mental health, a suitable hypothesis could be: "Regular physical exercise leads to improved mental well-being among adults."

This statement constitutes a specific and testable hypothesis that directly relates to the variables you are investigating.

What makes a good hypothesis?

A good hypothesis possesses several key characteristics. Firstly, it must be testable, allowing you to analyze data through empirical means, such as observation or experimentation, to assess if there is significant support for the hypothesis. Secondly, a hypothesis should be specific and unambiguous, giving a clear understanding of the expected relationship between variables. Lastly, it should be grounded in existing research or theoretical frameworks , ensuring its relevance and applicability.

Understanding the types of hypotheses can greatly enhance how you construct and work with hypotheses. While all hypotheses serve the essential function of guiding your study, there are varying purposes among the types of hypotheses. In addition, all hypotheses stand in contrast to the null hypothesis, or the assumption that there is no significant relationship between the variables .

Here, we explore various kinds of hypotheses to provide you with the tools needed to craft effective hypotheses for your specific research needs. Bear in mind that many of these hypothesis types may overlap with one another, and the specific type that is typically used will likely depend on the area of research and methodology you are following.

Null hypothesis

The null hypothesis is a statement that there is no effect or relationship between the variables being studied. In statistical terms, it serves as the default assumption that any observed differences are due to random chance.

For example, if you're studying the effect of a drug on blood pressure, the null hypothesis might state that the drug has no effect.

Alternative hypothesis

Contrary to the null hypothesis, the alternative hypothesis suggests that there is a significant relationship or effect between variables.

Using the drug example, the alternative hypothesis would posit that the drug does indeed affect blood pressure. This is what researchers aim to prove.

how to form a scientific hypothesis

Simple hypothesis

A simple hypothesis makes a prediction about the relationship between two variables, and only two variables.

For example, "Increased study time results in better exam scores." Here, "study time" and "exam scores" are the only variables involved.

Complex hypothesis

A complex hypothesis, as the name suggests, involves more than two variables. For instance, "Increased study time and access to resources result in better exam scores." Here, "study time," "access to resources," and "exam scores" are all variables.

This hypothesis refers to multiple potential mediating variables. Other hypotheses could also include predictions about variables that moderate the relationship between the independent variable and dependent variable .

Directional hypothesis

A directional hypothesis specifies the direction of the expected relationship between variables. For example, "Eating more fruits and vegetables leads to a decrease in heart disease."

Here, the direction of heart disease is explicitly predicted to decrease, due to effects from eating more fruits and vegetables. All hypotheses typically specify the expected direction of the relationship between the independent and dependent variable, such that researchers can test if this prediction holds in their data analysis .

how to form a scientific hypothesis

Statistical hypothesis

A statistical hypothesis is one that is testable through statistical methods, providing a numerical value that can be analyzed. This is commonly seen in quantitative research .

For example, "There is a statistically significant difference in test scores between students who study for one hour and those who study for two."

Empirical hypothesis

An empirical hypothesis is derived from observations and is tested through empirical methods, often through experimentation or survey data . Empirical hypotheses may also be assessed with statistical analyses.

For example, "Regular exercise is correlated with a lower incidence of depression," could be tested through surveys that measure exercise frequency and depression levels.

Causal hypothesis

A causal hypothesis proposes that one variable causes a change in another. This type of hypothesis is often tested through controlled experiments.

For example, "Smoking causes lung cancer," assumes a direct causal relationship.

Associative hypothesis

Unlike causal hypotheses, associative hypotheses suggest a relationship between variables but do not imply causation.

For instance, "People who smoke are more likely to get lung cancer," notes an association but doesn't claim that smoking causes lung cancer directly.

Relational hypothesis

A relational hypothesis explores the relationship between two or more variables but doesn't specify the nature of the relationship.

For example, "There is a relationship between diet and heart health," leaves the nature of the relationship (causal, associative, etc.) open to interpretation.

Logical hypothesis

A logical hypothesis is based on sound reasoning and logical principles. It's often used in theoretical research to explore abstract concepts, rather than being based on empirical data.

For example, "If all men are mortal and Socrates is a man, then Socrates is mortal," employs logical reasoning to make its point.

how to form a scientific hypothesis

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In any research hypothesis, variables play a critical role. These are the elements or factors that the researcher manipulates, controls, or measures. Understanding variables is essential for crafting a clear, testable hypothesis and for the stages of research that follow, such as data collection and analysis.

In the realm of hypotheses, there are generally two types of variables to consider: independent and dependent. Independent variables are what you, as the researcher, manipulate or change in your study. It's considered the cause in the relationship you're investigating. For instance, in a study examining the impact of sleep duration on academic performance, the independent variable would be the amount of sleep participants get.

Conversely, the dependent variable is the outcome you measure to gauge the effect of your manipulation. It's the effect in the cause-and-effect relationship. The dependent variable thus refers to the main outcome of interest in your study. In the same sleep study example, the academic performance, perhaps measured by exam scores or GPA, would be the dependent variable.

Beyond these two primary types, you might also encounter control variables. These are variables that could potentially influence the outcome and are therefore kept constant to isolate the relationship between the independent and dependent variables . For example, in the sleep and academic performance study, control variables could include age, diet, or even the subject of study.

By clearly identifying and understanding the roles of these variables in your hypothesis, you set the stage for a methodologically sound research project. It helps you develop focused research questions, design appropriate experiments or observations, and carry out meaningful data analysis . It's a step that lays the groundwork for the success of your entire study.

how to form a scientific hypothesis

Crafting a strong, testable hypothesis is crucial for the success of any research project. It sets the stage for everything from your study design to data collection and analysis . Below are some key considerations to keep in mind when formulating your hypothesis:

  • Be specific : A vague hypothesis can lead to ambiguous results and interpretations . Clearly define your variables and the expected relationship between them.
  • Ensure testability : A good hypothesis should be testable through empirical means, whether by observation , experimentation, or other forms of data analysis.
  • Ground in literature : Before creating your hypothesis, consult existing research and theories. This not only helps you identify gaps in current knowledge but also gives you valuable context and credibility for crafting your hypothesis.
  • Use simple language : While your hypothesis should be conceptually sound, it doesn't have to be complicated. Aim for clarity and simplicity in your wording.
  • State direction, if applicable : If your hypothesis involves a directional outcome (e.g., "increase" or "decrease"), make sure to specify this. You also need to think about how you will measure whether or not the outcome moved in the direction you predicted.
  • Keep it focused : One of the common pitfalls in hypothesis formulation is trying to answer too many questions at once. Keep your hypothesis focused on a specific issue or relationship.
  • Account for control variables : Identify any variables that could potentially impact the outcome and consider how you will control for them in your study.
  • Be ethical : Make sure your hypothesis and the methods for testing it comply with ethical standards , particularly if your research involves human or animal subjects.

how to form a scientific hypothesis

Designing your study involves multiple key phases that help ensure the rigor and validity of your research. Here we discuss these crucial components in more detail.

Literature review

Starting with a comprehensive literature review is essential. This step allows you to understand the existing body of knowledge related to your hypothesis and helps you identify gaps that your research could fill. Your research should aim to contribute some novel understanding to existing literature, and your hypotheses can reflect this. A literature review also provides valuable insights into how similar research projects were executed, thereby helping you fine-tune your own approach.

how to form a scientific hypothesis

Research methods

Choosing the right research methods is critical. Whether it's a survey, an experiment, or observational study, the methodology should be the most appropriate for testing your hypothesis. Your choice of methods will also depend on whether your research is quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-methods. Make sure the chosen methods align well with the variables you are studying and the type of data you need.

Preliminary research

Before diving into a full-scale study, it’s often beneficial to conduct preliminary research or a pilot study . This allows you to test your research methods on a smaller scale, refine your tools, and identify any potential issues. For instance, a pilot survey can help you determine if your questions are clear and if the survey effectively captures the data you need. This step can save you both time and resources in the long run.

Data analysis

Finally, planning your data analysis in advance is crucial for a successful study. Decide which statistical or analytical tools are most suited for your data type and research questions . For quantitative research, you might opt for t-tests, ANOVA, or regression analyses. For qualitative research , thematic analysis or grounded theory may be more appropriate. This phase is integral for interpreting your results and drawing meaningful conclusions in relation to your research question.

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

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

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

So let’s get started!

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What Is a Hypothesis?

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

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

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

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

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

Independent and Dependent Variables 

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

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

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

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

Elements of a Good Hypothesis

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

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

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

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Writing Your Hypothesis

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

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

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

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

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

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The Two Types of Hypotheses

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

#1: If-Then Hypotheses

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

If ____ happens, then ____ will happen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

#2: Null Hypotheses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4 Tips to Write the Best Hypothesis

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

#1: Plausibility

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

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

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

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

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

#2: Defined Concepts

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

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

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

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

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

body-blue-eye

Good hypotheses ensure that you can observe the results. 

#3: Observability

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

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

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

#4: Generalizability 

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

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

body-experiment-chemistry

Hypothesis Testing Examples

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s what your hypotheses might look like: 

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

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

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

body-bird-feeder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Takeaways: Hypothesis Writing

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

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

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What’s Next?

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

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

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

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

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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.

how to form a scientific hypothesis

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.

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What is a scientific hypothesis?

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

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

Hypothesis basics

What makes a hypothesis testable.

  • Types of hypotheses
  • Hypothesis versus theory

Additional resources

Bibliography.

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

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

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

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

Here are some examples of hypothesis statements:

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

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

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

Types of scientific hypotheses

Elementary-age students study alternative energy using homemade windmills during public school science class.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scientific theory vs. scientific hypothesis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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how to form a scientific hypothesis

Research Hypothesis In Psychology: Types, & Examples

Saul Mcleod, PhD

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

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On This Page:

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

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

Some key points about hypotheses:

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

Types of Research Hypotheses

Alternative hypothesis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Null Hypothesis

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

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

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

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

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

Nondirectional Hypothesis

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

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

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

Directional Hypothesis

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

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

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

hypothesis

Falsifiability

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

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

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

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

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

Can a Hypothesis be Proven?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Write a Hypothesis

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

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

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

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

More Examples

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

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How To Write a Strong Research Hypothesis

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Are you looking to take your research project to the next level? Have you heard of the power of a hypothesis but need to figure out how to formulate one that will unlock potential discoveries? We can help!

So get ready; it's time to dive into unlocking the power of research! This blog post will explore what makes a well-crafted and powerful hypothesis - from identifying a research question to developing supporting evidence.

By learning how to craft a compelling hypothesis, you'll have more tremendous success in every step of your research project.

What are hypotheses, and why are they important?

A hypothesis is an educated guess or a proposition based on limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation. It provides a framework for research and allows researchers to refine their ideas, collect data, and draw conclusions. Hypotheses are essential to the process because they will enable us to organize our thoughts and test theories properly.

Hypotheses are used in many fields , from medicine to psychology to economics. In each area, developing hypotheses based on observations enable researchers to make predictions about their data and guide them toward finding meaningful results.

For example, in medicine, hypotheses can be used to predict which treatments will be most effective for particular conditions or which drugs may have adverse effects when taken together. This allows doctors to make better decisions when caring for patients.

In psychology, hypotheses are often used in experiments to determine whether certain variables influence behavior or mental processes. By testing different combinations of variables, psychologists can identify patterns and understand why people behave the way they do.

In economics, hypotheses provide economists with a framework for analyzing the relationship between economic variables such as wages and consumer spending habits. By understanding these relationships, economists can better understand how economic forces affect the economy.

Overall, hypotheses play an essential role in helping scientists develop new ideas and draw meaningful conclusions from the collected data. Without taking the step to create hypotheses, it would be difficult for researchers to make sense of the vast amounts of information available today and use it effectively in their investigations.

How to determine an effective research question to form your hypothesis

When conducting research, having a compelling research question is critical . Properly formulating this question will allow the researcher to develop their hypothesis. A research question provides a clear and focused goal for your research study and also gives direction on how to get there. A compelling research question should be specific, answerable in the context of your field of study, significant, novel (not already answered by previous studies), and timely – that is, relevant to current events or trends.

Before determining the best research question, you must first understand your topic. Think about the area of knowledge that interests you most and narrow it down to a single theme or concept within this topic. Focus on what interests you most within this theme, and make sure there is room for further exploration and analysis. Once you have chosen a specific topic and narrowed down your focus, you can begin formulating questions related to your project.

To ensure relevance and impact to your field of study, choose questions that address essential issues in the literature or suggest solutions to existing problems. Avoid overly broad topics with unclear objectives; instead, opt for focused questions to enable targeted data collection and analysis with concrete results.

Additionally, consider time frames when formulating questions. If the issue has been discussed extensively in the past but has not been revisited recently, then it's likely not worthy of a new investigation.

Once you have developed some potential questions related to your topic, review them carefully and decide which question best captures the essence of what you want to learn through researching this topic.

Ask yourself:

  • Is this question answerable?
  • Does it fit within my field of study?
  • Is it significant enough?
  • Would its findings be novel?

If so, then congratulations! You have identified a compelling research question.

Tips for crafting a well-crafted hypothesis

Once you have formulated the official research question, you may develop the formal hypothesis. When composing a hypothesis, it's essential to think carefully about the question you are trying to answer.

A solid hypothesis should be testable, meaning that it can be verified or disproved through research. It should also be specific and focused on one issue at a time. Here are some tips for crafting a well-crafted hypothesis:

  • Consider the goal of your research: Think about what it is that you want to learn or determine from your experiment and make sure that your hypothesis reflects this goal.
  • Create an educated guess as to why something is happening: Your hypothesis should explain why something is occurring based on what evidence you already have and direct further investigation into the matter. For example, if you hypothesize that increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere will lead to global warming, your research should focus on examining this relationship further.
  • Define any variables or parameters involved in the experiment: This includes things like temperature or chemical composition that could potentially affect the outcome of any experiments done in pursuit of testing your hypothesis.
  • Use clear and precise language: Make sure your hypothesis is written with clear and precise language so that anyone reading it can understand exactly what you are attempting to investigate or explain. Avoid complex words and keep sentences short whenever possible.

Following these simple tips will help ensure that your hypothesis is well-crafted and ready for testing!

Examples of evidence that can support your hypothesis

When it comes to developing a hypothesis, supporting evidence is essential for making sure it holds up. This evidence helps strengthen the argument that is being driven by providing facts and logical reasoning that support the hypothesis.

Examples of evidence that can be used to back up a hypothesis include using data from experiments, case studies, and other research projects. Data from experiments can provide insight into how certain variables interact to form a particular outcome.

Case studies may offer greater depth in understanding a specific phenomenon's cause and effect; research projects may yield results that confirm or refute existing theories on a subject.

In addition to these traditional forms of evidence, personal experiences or observations can also help to support a hypothesis. For example, if someone's daily commute has been consistently faster since they changed routes, they could use their personal experience to argue that making this change resulted in shorter commutes.

Similarly, suppose someone has witnessed how two variables consistently coincide (i.e., when one goes up, another goes down). In that case, this could be used to support the notion that there is some correlation between these two aspects.

Overall, evidence to support your hypothesis is crucial for ensuring its validity and credibility. While conducting experiments or researching may seem like time-consuming processes, having solid supporting evidence will make it much easier to defend your ideas convincingly when challenged.

Therefore, it is crucial to take the time necessary to gather credible sources of information to provide the most substantial possible backing for your hypotheses.

Understanding the potential of hypotheses and how they can help your research project progress

The power of research lies in the ability to develop and test hypotheses. A hypothesis is a statement or an idea that can be tested to determine its validity.

Essentially, it is a form of educated guesswork that helps researchers form conclusions about their data. By developing a hypothesis for a research project, you are effectively setting up the framework for further exploration.

When developing a hypothesis, you must consider both the expected outcomes and possible alternative explanations. This will help you focus on testing the possible results without getting sidetracked by irrelevant information. Once you have established a concrete hypothesis, it can then be used as a basis for further research and experimentation.

The process of testing hypotheses is an integral part of the scientific method and can help researchers build confidence in their findings and conclusions. Through careful observation and experimentation, researchers can compare their results against what they initially hypothesized, allowing them to draw more accurate conclusions about their data. As such, hypotheses play an essential role in helping researchers connect the dots between different pieces of evidence and form meaningful conclusions.

Overall, understanding how hypotheses can be used in research projects can be immensely beneficial in helping progress towards reaching meaningful insights from their data. By setting up expectations ahead of time and then testing them against real-world conditions, researchers can gain valuable insights that could potentially change the way we understand our world – now that's something worth exploring!

Final thoughts

A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for an observable phenomenon. It's important to note that hypotheses are not the same thing as theories–a theory is a much broader and well-established frame of reference that explains multiple phenomena.

Generally, scientists form a research question and then narrow it down to a testable hypothesis. After making observations and conducting experiments to gather data, researchers can use evidence to support or reject the hypothesis.

By following these steps to formulate a solid hypothesis, you will be on your way to developing a successful research project. Happy researching!

Header image by Bnenin .

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Research Method

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

What is a Hypothesis – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

What is a Hypothesis

Definition:

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

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

Types of Hypothesis

Types of Hypothesis are as follows:

Research Hypothesis

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

Null Hypothesis

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

Alternative Hypothesis

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

Directional Hypothesis

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

Non-directional Hypothesis

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

Statistical Hypothesis

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

Composite Hypothesis

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

Empirical Hypothesis

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

Simple Hypothesis

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

Complex Hypothesis

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

Applications of Hypothesis

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

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

How to write a Hypothesis

Here are the steps to follow when writing a hypothesis:

Identify the Research Question

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

Conduct a Literature Review

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

Determine the Variables

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

Formulate the Hypothesis

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

Write the Null Hypothesis

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

Refine the Hypothesis

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

Examples of Hypothesis

Here are a few examples of hypotheses in different fields:

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

Purpose of Hypothesis

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

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

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

When to use Hypothesis

Here are some common situations in which hypotheses are used:

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

Characteristics of Hypothesis

Here are some common characteristics of a hypothesis:

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

Advantages of Hypothesis

Hypotheses have several advantages in scientific research and experimentation:

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

Limitations of Hypothesis

Some Limitations of the Hypothesis are as follows:

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

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How to Write a Hypothesis

Last Updated: May 2, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Bess Ruff, MA . Bess Ruff is a Geography PhD student at Florida State University. She received her MA in Environmental Science and Management from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2016. She has conducted survey work for marine spatial planning projects in the Caribbean and provided research support as a graduate fellow for the Sustainable Fisheries Group. There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,032,529 times.

A hypothesis is a description of a pattern in nature or an explanation about some real-world phenomenon that can be tested through observation and experimentation. The most common way a hypothesis is used in scientific research is as a tentative, testable, and falsifiable statement that explains some observed phenomenon in nature. [1] X Research source Many academic fields, from the physical sciences to the life sciences to the social sciences, use hypothesis testing as a means of testing ideas to learn about the world and advance scientific knowledge. Whether you are a beginning scholar or a beginning student taking a class in a science subject, understanding what hypotheses are and being able to generate hypotheses and predictions yourself is very important. These instructions will help get you started.

Preparing to Write a Hypothesis

Step 1 Select a topic.

  • If you are writing a hypothesis for a school assignment, this step may be taken care of for you.

Step 2 Read existing research.

  • Focus on academic and scholarly writing. You need to be certain that your information is unbiased, accurate, and comprehensive. Scholarly search databases such as Google Scholar and Web of Science can help you find relevant articles from reputable sources.
  • You can find information in textbooks, at a library, and online. If you are in school, you can also ask for help from teachers, librarians, and your peers.

Step 3 Analyze the literature.

  • For example, if you are interested in the effects of caffeine on the human body, but notice that nobody seems to have explored whether caffeine affects males differently than it does females, this could be something to formulate a hypothesis about. Or, if you are interested in organic farming, you might notice that no one has tested whether organic fertilizer results in different growth rates for plants than non-organic fertilizer.
  • You can sometimes find holes in the existing literature by looking for statements like “it is unknown” in scientific papers or places where information is clearly missing. You might also find a claim in the literature that seems far-fetched, unlikely, or too good to be true, like that caffeine improves math skills. If the claim is testable, you could provide a great service to scientific knowledge by doing your own investigation. If you confirm the claim, the claim becomes even more credible. If you do not find support for the claim, you are helping with the necessary self-correcting aspect of science.
  • Examining these types of questions provides an excellent way for you to set yourself apart by filling in important gaps in a field of study.

Step 4 Generate questions.

  • Following the examples above, you might ask: "How does caffeine affect females as compared to males?" or "How does organic fertilizer affect plant growth compared to non-organic fertilizer?" The rest of your research will be aimed at answering these questions.

Step 5 Look for clues as to what the answer might be.

  • Following the examples above, if you discover in the literature that there is a pattern that some other types of stimulants seem to affect females more than males, this could be a clue that the same pattern might be true for caffeine. Similarly, if you observe the pattern that organic fertilizer seems to be associated with smaller plants overall, you might explain this pattern with the hypothesis that plants exposed to organic fertilizer grow more slowly than plants exposed to non-organic fertilizer.

Formulating Your Hypothesis

Step 1 Determine your variables.

  • You can think of the independent variable as the one that is causing some kind of difference or effect to occur. In the examples, the independent variable would be biological sex, i.e. whether a person is male or female, and fertilizer type, i.e. whether the fertilizer is organic or non-organically-based.
  • The dependent variable is what is affected by (i.e. "depends" on) the independent variable. In the examples above, the dependent variable would be the measured impact of caffeine or fertilizer.
  • Your hypothesis should only suggest one relationship. Most importantly, it should only have one independent variable. If you have more than one, you won't be able to determine which one is actually the source of any effects you might observe.

Step 2 Generate a simple hypothesis.

  • Don't worry too much at this point about being precise or detailed.
  • In the examples above, one hypothesis would make a statement about whether a person's biological sex might impact the way the person is affected by caffeine; for example, at this point, your hypothesis might simply be: "a person's biological sex is related to how caffeine affects his or her heart rate." The other hypothesis would make a general statement about plant growth and fertilizer; for example your simple explanatory hypothesis might be "plants given different types of fertilizer are different sizes because they grow at different rates."

Step 3 Decide on direction.

  • Using our example, our non-directional hypotheses would be "there is a relationship between a person's biological sex and how much caffeine increases the person's heart rate," and "there is a relationship between fertilizer type and the speed at which plants grow."
  • Directional predictions using the same example hypotheses above would be : "Females will experience a greater increase in heart rate after consuming caffeine than will males," and "plants fertilized with non-organic fertilizer will grow faster than those fertilized with organic fertilizer." Indeed, these predictions and the hypotheses that allow for them are very different kinds of statements. More on this distinction below.
  • If the literature provides any basis for making a directional prediction, it is better to do so, because it provides more information. Especially in the physical sciences, non-directional predictions are often seen as inadequate.

Step 4 Get specific.

  • Where necessary, specify the population (i.e. the people or things) about which you hope to uncover new knowledge. For example, if you were only interested the effects of caffeine on elderly people, your prediction might read: "Females over the age of 65 will experience a greater increase in heart rate than will males of the same age." If you were interested only in how fertilizer affects tomato plants, your prediction might read: "Tomato plants treated with non-organic fertilizer will grow faster in the first three months than will tomato plants treated with organic fertilizer."

Step 5 Make sure it is testable.

  • For example, you would not want to make the hypothesis: "red is the prettiest color." This statement is an opinion and it cannot be tested with an experiment. However, proposing the generalizing hypothesis that red is the most popular color is testable with a simple random survey. If you do indeed confirm that red is the most popular color, your next step may be to ask: Why is red the most popular color? The answer you propose is your explanatory hypothesis .

Step 6 Write a research hypothesis.

  • An easy way to get to the hypothesis for this method and prediction is to ask yourself why you think heart rates will increase if children are given caffeine. Your explanatory hypothesis in this case may be that caffeine is a stimulant. At this point, some scientists write a research hypothesis , a statement that includes the hypothesis, the experiment, and the prediction all in one statement.
  • For example, If caffeine is a stimulant, and some children are given a drink with caffeine while others are given a drink without caffeine, then the heart rates of those children given a caffeinated drink will increase more than the heart rate of children given a non-caffeinated drink.

Step 7 Contextualize your hypothesis.

  • Using the above example, if you were to test the effects of caffeine on the heart rates of children, evidence that your hypothesis is not true, sometimes called the null hypothesis , could occur if the heart rates of both the children given the caffeinated drink and the children given the non-caffeinated drink (called the placebo control) did not change, or lowered or raised with the same magnitude, if there was no difference between the two groups of children.
  • It is important to note here that the null hypothesis actually becomes much more useful when researchers test the significance of their results with statistics. When statistics are used on the results of an experiment, a researcher is testing the idea of the null statistical hypothesis. For example, that there is no relationship between two variables or that there is no difference between two groups. [8] X Research source

Step 8 Test your hypothesis.

Hypothesis Examples

how to form a scientific hypothesis

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Remember that science is not necessarily a linear process and can be approached in various ways. [10] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • When examining the literature, look for research that is similar to what you want to do, and try to build on the findings of other researchers. But also look for claims that you think are suspicious, and test them yourself. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Be specific in your hypotheses, but not so specific that your hypothesis can't be applied to anything outside your specific experiment. You definitely want to be clear about the population about which you are interested in drawing conclusions, but nobody (except your roommates) will be interested in reading a paper with the prediction: "my three roommates will each be able to do a different amount of pushups." Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

how to form a scientific hypothesis

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  • ↑ https://undsci.berkeley.edu/for-educators/prepare-and-plan/correcting-misconceptions/#a4
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/research_papers/choosing_a_topic.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/writing_in_the_social_sciences/writing_in_psychology_experimental_report_writing/experimental_reports_1.html
  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/how-to-write-a-hypothesis/
  • ↑ https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/for-students-and-parents/how-create-hypothesis.html
  • ↑ https://flexbooks.ck12.org/cbook/ck-12-middle-school-physical-science-flexbook-2.0/section/1.19/primary/lesson/hypothesis-ms-ps/
  • ↑ https://iastate.pressbooks.pub/preparingtopublish/chapter/goal-1-contextualize-the-studys-methods/
  • ↑ http://mathworld.wolfram.com/NullHypothesis.html
  • ↑ http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/scienceflowchart

About This Article

Bess Ruff, MA

Before writing a hypothesis, think of what questions are still unanswered about a specific subject and make an educated guess about what the answer could be. Then, determine the variables in your question and write a simple statement about how they might be related. Try to focus on specific predictions and variables, such as age or segment of the population, to make your hypothesis easier to test. For tips on how to test your hypothesis, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Write a Hypothesis? Types and Examples 

how to write a hypothesis for research

All research studies involve the use of the scientific method, which is a mathematical and experimental technique used to conduct experiments by developing and testing a hypothesis or a prediction about an outcome. Simply put, a hypothesis is a suggested solution to a problem. It includes elements that are expressed in terms of relationships with each other to explain a condition or an assumption that hasn’t been verified using facts. 1 The typical steps in a scientific method include developing such a hypothesis, testing it through various methods, and then modifying it based on the outcomes of the experiments.  

A research hypothesis can be defined as a specific, testable prediction about the anticipated results of a study. 2 Hypotheses help guide the research process and supplement the aim of the study. After several rounds of testing, hypotheses can help develop scientific theories. 3 Hypotheses are often written as if-then statements. 

Here are two hypothesis examples: 

Dandelions growing in nitrogen-rich soils for two weeks develop larger leaves than those in nitrogen-poor soils because nitrogen stimulates vegetative growth. 4  

If a company offers flexible work hours, then their employees will be happier at work. 5  

Table of Contents

  • What is a hypothesis? 
  • Types of hypotheses 
  • Characteristics of a hypothesis 
  • Functions of a hypothesis 
  • How to write a hypothesis 
  • Hypothesis examples 
  • Frequently asked questions 

What is a hypothesis?

Figure 1. Steps in research design

A hypothesis expresses an expected relationship between variables in a study and is developed before conducting any research. Hypotheses are not opinions but rather are expected relationships based on facts and observations. They help support scientific research and expand existing knowledge. An incorrectly formulated hypothesis can affect the entire experiment leading to errors in the results so it’s important to know how to formulate a hypothesis and develop it carefully.

A few sources of a hypothesis include observations from prior studies, current research and experiences, competitors, scientific theories, and general conditions that can influence people. Figure 1 depicts the different steps in a research design and shows where exactly in the process a hypothesis is developed. 4  

There are seven different types of hypotheses—simple, complex, directional, nondirectional, associative and causal, null, and alternative. 

Types of hypotheses

The seven types of hypotheses are listed below: 5 , 6,7  

  • Simple : Predicts the relationship between a single dependent variable and a single independent variable. 

Example: Exercising in the morning every day will increase your productivity.  

  • Complex : Predicts the relationship between two or more variables. 

Example: Spending three hours or more on social media daily will negatively affect children’s mental health and productivity, more than that of adults.  

  • Directional : Specifies the expected direction to be followed and uses terms like increase, decrease, positive, negative, more, or less. 

Example: The inclusion of intervention X decreases infant mortality compared to the original treatment.  

  • Non-directional : Does not predict the exact direction, nature, or magnitude of the relationship between two variables but rather states the existence of a relationship. This hypothesis may be used when there is no underlying theory or if findings contradict prior research. 

Example: Cats and dogs differ in the amount of affection they express.  

  • Associative and causal : An associative hypothesis suggests an interdependency between variables, that is, how a change in one variable changes the other.  

Example: There is a positive association between physical activity levels and overall health.  

A causal hypothesis, on the other hand, expresses a cause-and-effect association between variables. 

Example: Long-term alcohol use causes liver damage.  

  • Null : Claims that the original hypothesis is false by showing that there is no relationship between the variables. 

Example: Sleep duration does not have any effect on productivity.  

  • Alternative : States the opposite of the null hypothesis, that is, a relationship exists between two variables. 

Example: Sleep duration affects productivity.  

how to form a scientific hypothesis

Characteristics of a hypothesis

So, what makes a good hypothesis? Here are some important characteristics of a hypothesis. 8,9  

  • Testable : You must be able to test the hypothesis using scientific methods to either accept or reject the prediction. 
  • Falsifiable : It should be possible to collect data that reject rather than support the hypothesis. 
  • Logical : Hypotheses shouldn’t be a random guess but rather should be based on previous theories, observations, prior research, and logical reasoning. 
  • Positive : The hypothesis statement about the existence of an association should be positive, that is, it should not suggest that an association does not exist. Therefore, the language used and knowing how to phrase a hypothesis is very important. 
  • Clear and accurate : The language used should be easily comprehensible and use correct terminology. 
  • Relevant : The hypothesis should be relevant and specific to the research question. 
  • Structure : Should include all the elements that make a good hypothesis: variables, relationship, and outcome. 

Functions of a hypothesis

The following list mentions some important functions of a hypothesis: 1  

  • Maintains the direction and progress of the research. 
  • Expresses the important assumptions underlying the proposition in a single statement. 
  • Establishes a suitable context for researchers to begin their investigation and for readers who are referring to the final report. 
  • Provides an explanation for the occurrence of a specific phenomenon. 
  • Ensures selection of appropriate and accurate facts necessary and relevant to the research subject. 

To summarize, a hypothesis provides the conceptual elements that complete the known data, conceptual relationships that systematize unordered elements, and conceptual meanings and interpretations that explain the unknown phenomena. 1  

how to form a scientific hypothesis

How to write a hypothesis

Listed below are the main steps explaining how to write a hypothesis. 2,4,5  

  • Make an observation and identify variables : Observe the subject in question and try to recognize a pattern or a relationship between the variables involved. This step provides essential background information to begin your research.  

For example, if you notice that an office’s vending machine frequently runs out of a specific snack, you may predict that more people in the office choose that snack over another. 

  • Identify the main research question : After identifying a subject and recognizing a pattern, the next step is to ask a question that your hypothesis will answer.  

For example, after observing employees’ break times at work, you could ask “why do more employees take breaks in the morning rather than in the afternoon?” 

  • Conduct some preliminary research to ensure originality and novelty : Your initial answer, which is your hypothesis, to the question is based on some pre-existing information about the subject. However, to ensure that your hypothesis has not been asked before or that it has been asked but rejected by other researchers you would need to gather additional information.  

For example, based on your observations you might state a hypothesis that employees work more efficiently when the air conditioning in the office is set at a lower temperature. However, during your preliminary research you find that this hypothesis was proven incorrect by a prior study. 

  • Develop a general statement : After your preliminary research has confirmed the originality of your proposed answer, draft a general statement that includes all variables, subjects, and predicted outcome. The statement could be if/then or declarative.  
  • Finalize the hypothesis statement : Use the PICOT model, which clarifies how to word a hypothesis effectively, when finalizing the statement. This model lists the important components required to write a hypothesis. 

P opulation: The specific group or individual who is the main subject of the research 

I nterest: The main concern of the study/research question 

C omparison: The main alternative group 

O utcome: The expected results  

T ime: Duration of the experiment 

Once you’ve finalized your hypothesis statement you would need to conduct experiments to test whether the hypothesis is true or false. 

Hypothesis examples

The following table provides examples of different types of hypotheses. 10 ,11  

how to form a scientific hypothesis

Key takeaways  

Here’s a summary of all the key points discussed in this article about how to write a hypothesis. 

  • A hypothesis is an assumption about an association between variables made based on limited evidence, which should be tested. 
  • A hypothesis has four parts—the research question, independent variable, dependent variable, and the proposed relationship between the variables.   
  • The statement should be clear, concise, testable, logical, and falsifiable. 
  • There are seven types of hypotheses—simple, complex, directional, non-directional, associative and causal, null, and alternative. 
  • A hypothesis provides a focus and direction for the research to progress. 
  • A hypothesis plays an important role in the scientific method by helping to create an appropriate experimental design. 

Frequently asked questions

Hypotheses and research questions have different objectives and structure. The following table lists some major differences between the two. 9  

Here are a few examples to differentiate between a research question and hypothesis. 

Yes, here’s a simple checklist to help you gauge the effectiveness of your hypothesis. 9   1. When writing a hypothesis statement, check if it:  2. Predicts the relationship between the stated variables and the expected outcome.  3. Uses simple and concise language and is not wordy.  4. Does not assume readers’ knowledge about the subject.  5. Has observable, falsifiable, and testable results. 

As mentioned earlier in this article, a hypothesis is an assumption or prediction about an association between variables based on observations and simple evidence. These statements are usually generic. Research objectives, on the other hand, are more specific and dictated by hypotheses. The same hypothesis can be tested using different methods and the research objectives could be different in each case.     For example, Louis Pasteur observed that food lasts longer at higher altitudes, reasoned that it could be because the air at higher altitudes is cleaner (with fewer or no germs), and tested the hypothesis by exposing food to air cleaned in the laboratory. 12 Thus, a hypothesis is predictive—if the reasoning is correct, X will lead to Y—and research objectives are developed to test these predictions. 

Null hypothesis testing is a method to decide between two assumptions or predictions between variables (null and alternative hypotheses) in a statistical relationship in a sample. The null hypothesis, denoted as H 0 , claims that no relationship exists between variables in a population and any relationship in the sample reflects a sampling error or occurrence by chance. The alternative hypothesis, denoted as H 1 , claims that there is a relationship in the population. In every study, researchers need to decide whether the relationship in a sample occurred by chance or reflects a relationship in the population. This is done by hypothesis testing using the following steps: 13   1. Assume that the null hypothesis is true.  2. Determine how likely the sample relationship would be if the null hypothesis were true. This probability is called the p value.  3. If the sample relationship would be extremely unlikely, reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternative hypothesis. If the relationship would not be unlikely, accept the null hypothesis. 

how to form a scientific hypothesis

To summarize, researchers should know how to write a good hypothesis to ensure that their research progresses in the required direction. A hypothesis is a testable prediction about any behavior or relationship between variables, usually based on facts and observation, and states an expected outcome.  

We hope this article has provided you with essential insight into the different types of hypotheses and their functions so that you can use them appropriately in your next research project. 

References  

  • Dalen, DVV. The function of hypotheses in research. Proquest website. Accessed April 8, 2024. https://www.proquest.com/docview/1437933010?pq-origsite=gscholar&fromopenview=true&sourcetype=Scholarly%20Journals&imgSeq=1  
  • McLeod S. Research hypothesis in psychology: Types & examples. SimplyPsychology website. Updated December 13, 2023. Accessed April 9, 2024. https://www.simplypsychology.org/what-is-a-hypotheses.html  
  • Scientific method. Britannica website. Updated March 14, 2024. Accessed April 9, 2024. https://www.britannica.com/science/scientific-method  
  • The hypothesis in science writing. Accessed April 10, 2024. https://berks.psu.edu/sites/berks/files/campus/HypothesisHandout_Final.pdf  
  • How to develop a hypothesis (with elements, types, and examples). Indeed.com website. Updated February 3, 2023. Accessed April 10, 2024. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-write-a-hypothesis  
  • Types of research hypotheses. Excelsior online writing lab. Accessed April 11, 2024. https://owl.excelsior.edu/research/research-hypotheses/types-of-research-hypotheses/  
  • What is a research hypothesis: how to write it, types, and examples. Researcher.life website. Published February 8, 2023. Accessed April 11, 2024. https://researcher.life/blog/article/how-to-write-a-research-hypothesis-definition-types-examples/  
  • Developing a hypothesis. Pressbooks website. Accessed April 12, 2024. https://opentext.wsu.edu/carriecuttler/chapter/developing-a-hypothesis/  
  • What is and how to write a good hypothesis in research. Elsevier author services website. Accessed April 12, 2024. https://scientific-publishing.webshop.elsevier.com/manuscript-preparation/what-how-write-good-hypothesis-research/  
  • How to write a great hypothesis. Verywellmind website. Updated March 12, 2023. Accessed April 13, 2024. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-hypothesis-2795239  
  • 15 Hypothesis examples. Helpfulprofessor.com Published September 8, 2023. Accessed March 14, 2024. https://helpfulprofessor.com/hypothesis-examples/ 
  • Editage insights. What is the interconnectivity between research objectives and hypothesis? Published February 24, 2021. Accessed April 13, 2024. https://www.editage.com/insights/what-is-the-interconnectivity-between-research-objectives-and-hypothesis  
  • Understanding null hypothesis testing. BCCampus open publishing. Accessed April 16, 2024. https://opentextbc.ca/researchmethods/chapter/understanding-null-hypothesis-testing/#:~:text=In%20null%20hypothesis%20testing%2C%20this,said%20to%20be%20statistically%20significant  

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    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.

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    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 ability to be supported or refuted through observation and experimentation.

  3. 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.

  4. Hypothesis: Definition, Examples, and Types

    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 ...

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

    The steps to write a research hypothesis are: 1. Stating the problem: Ensure that the hypothesis defines the research problem. 2. Writing a hypothesis as an 'if-then' statement: Include the action and the expected outcome of your study by following a 'if-then' structure. 3.

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    Learning how to write a hypothesis comes down to knowledge and strategy. ... When forming your hypothesis statement using the scientific method, it's important to know the difference between a null hypothesis vs. the alternative hypothesis, and how to create a null hypothesis. ... analyze the data and form your conclusion. To read more about ...

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    The scientific method. At the core of biology and other sciences lies a problem-solving approach called the scientific method. The scientific method has five basic steps, plus one feedback step: Make an observation. Ask a question. Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation. Make a prediction based on the hypothesis.

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    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.

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  12. How to Write a Hypothesis

    Aim for clarity and simplicity in your wording. State direction, if applicable: If your hypothesis involves a directional outcome (e.g., "increase" or "decrease"), make sure to specify this. You also need to think about how you will measure whether or not the outcome moved in the direction you predicted.

  13. A Strong Hypothesis

    Keep in mind that writing the hypothesis is an early step in the process of doing a science project. The steps below form the basic outline of the Scientific Method: Ask a Question. Do Background Research. Construct a Hypothesis. Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment. Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion.

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    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 ...

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

  18. How To Write a Strong Research Hypothesis

    A hypothesis is a statement or an idea that can be tested to determine its validity. Essentially, it is a form of educated guesswork that helps researchers form conclusions about their data. By developing a hypothesis for a research project, you are effectively setting up the framework for further exploration.

  19. 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 ...

  20. How to Write a Hypothesis: 13 Steps (with Pictures)

    1. Select a topic. Pick a topic that interests you, and that you think it would be good to know more about. [2] If you are writing a hypothesis for a school assignment, this step may be taken care of for you. 2. Read existing research. Gather all the information you can about the topic you've selected.

  21. Hypothesis Testing

    Table of contents. Step 1: State your null and alternate hypothesis. Step 2: Collect data. Step 3: Perform a statistical test. Step 4: Decide whether to reject or fail to reject your null hypothesis. Step 5: Present your findings. Other interesting articles. Frequently asked questions about hypothesis testing.

  22. How to Write a Hypothesis? Types and Examples

    A hypothesis is an assumption about an association between variables made based on limited evidence, which should be tested. A hypothesis has four parts—the research question, independent variable, dependent variable, and the proposed relationship between the variables. The statement should be clear, concise, testable, logical, and falsifiable.

  23. Writing a Hypothesis for Your Science Fair Project

    A hypothesis is a tentative, testable answer to a scientific question. Once a scientist has a scientific question she is interested in, the scientist reads up to find out what is already known on the topic. Then she uses that information to form a tentative answer to her scientific question. Sometimes people refer to the tentative answer as "an ...

  24. Scientific Method: Definition, Steps, Examples, Uses

    4. Formulate a hypothesis. A Hypothesis is an idea or a guess to explain a specific occurrence, natural event, or particular experience based on prior observation. It is another step in the scientific method. A hypothesis allows you to make a prediction. Scientists predict what will be the outcome.