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What is a Hypothesis?

A hypothesis can be defined as an assumption statement that is made on the basis of evidence so that this assumption can be tested to see if it might be true. It describes what you expect will happen in your research study before it has taken place and is therefore a prediction that you are trying to explore. Certain research studies may involve several hypotheses in cases where multiple aspects of the research question want to be studied. 

Hypotheses often propose an association between two or more variables: this includes the independent variable (the variable that the researcher controls/manipulates) and the dependent variable (the variable that the researcher observes and measures).

How to Write a Hypothesis

Use the following six steps to effectively create a hypothesis for your research study:


Ask a Question

The first step in writing a hypothesis is asking a question. In this step, you must clearly outline the research question that you want to answer, keeping it specific and focused.

Gather Research

Once you’ve defined your research question, you can start collecting preliminary research. Data collected at this stage can come in the form of existing studies with similar topics, academic journals, and any preliminary primary research conducted such as your own observations and experiments. 

At this stage you can even construct a conceptual framework. This is a visual representation of the expected relationship between the variables being studied.

Formulate an Answer

Once you’ve conducted your preliminary research, you can think about the ways in which you can answer the question. At this stage, your research will have allowed you to develop a stance on what you believe will be the result of the research. You must frame this answer in a clear and concise sentence.

Create a Hypothesis

In this stage, you must formulate your hypothesis. As you already have the answer to your question ready, you can create your hypothesis by including the following in your statement: 

  • Relevant Variables
  • Specific Group being Studied (Who/What)
  • Predicted Outcome of the Experiment

Your hypothesis is a prediction and it should be framed as a statement, not a question.

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Refine the Hypothesis

In this step, you must refine your hypothesis to ensure that it is specific and testable. Furthermore, there may be certain cases in which you are studying the difference between more than just one group or are conducting correlational research. In such cases, you must clearly state the relationships or differences that you believe you will find among the variables.

Create a Null Hypothesis

Certain studies may require statistical analysis to be conducted on the data collected. When employing the scientific method to form a hypothesis, you must know the difference between the null hypothesis and the alternative hypothesis. 

  • A null hypothesis is a type of hypothesis which suggests that there is no statistical relationship between the given observed variables, whether they be a single set of variables or among two sets of variables. The null hypothesis can be denoted as H0.

An alternative hypothesis, often denoted as H1, is a statement that contradicts the null hypothesis and can be considered as an alternative to the null hypothesis.

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Types of Hypothesis

We’ve already discussed null and alternative hypotheses and what each entails. Let’s also look at some other types of hypotheses. Research hypotheses can be categorized into the following groups:

  • Null Hypothesis
  • Alternative Hypothesis
  • Simple Hypothesis: A prediction of the relationship between a single independent variable and a single dependent variable. 
  • Complex Hypothesis: A prediction of the relationship between two or more independent and/or dependent variables.
  • Directional Hypothesis: A prediction that specifies the direction of the relationship between the variables, and is derived from an existing theory. 
  • Non-directional Hypothesis: This is a two-tailed non-directional hypothesis that involves predicting that the independent variable will have an effect on the dependent variable, although the direction of this relationship is not specified. 
  • Associative and Causal Hypothesis: An associative hypothesis involves making the assumption that there is a level of interdependency between the variables. It predicts that a change in one variable will result in a change in the other. 

A causal hypothesis predicts that changes in the dependent variable are a result of the manipulation of the independent variable.

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