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  • How to Write a Strong Hypothesis | Steps & Examples

How to Write a Strong Hypothesis | Steps & Examples

Published on May 6, 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on November 20, 2023.

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

Example: Hypothesis

Daily apple consumption leads to fewer doctor’s visits.

Table of contents

What is a hypothesis, developing a hypothesis (with example), hypothesis examples, other interesting articles, 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 types of variables .

  • An independent variable is something the researcher changes or controls.
  • A dependent variable is something the researcher observes and measures.

If there are any control variables , extraneous variables , or confounding variables , be sure to jot those down as you go to minimize the chances that research bias  will affect your results.

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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essay on hypothesis

Step 1. Ask a question

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

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 ensure that you’re embarking on a relevant topic . This can also help you identify which variables you will study and what you think the relationships are between them. Sometimes, you’ll have to operationalize 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.

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

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.

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 .

  • H 0 : The number of lectures attended by first-year students has no effect on their final exam scores.
  • H 1 : The number of lectures attended by first-year students has a positive effect on their final exam scores.

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

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

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

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

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.

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McCombes, S. (2023, November 20). How to Write a Strong Hypothesis | Steps & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved January 2, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/methodology/hypothesis/

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essay on hypothesis

How to Write a Hypothesis

essay on hypothesis

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

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

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

Hypothesis Definition

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

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

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

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

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

Characteristics and Sources of a Hypothesis

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

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

The main sources of a hypothesis are:

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

Types of Hypothesis

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

Types of Hypothesis

  • Alternative Hypothesis

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

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

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

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

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

  • Null Hypothesis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For example: Eating more vegetables leads to better immunity.

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

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

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

Be sure to read how to write a DBQ - this article will expand your understanding.

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Hypothesis vs Prediction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

how to write

1. Define Your Research Question

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

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

2. Conduct Your Basic Initial Research

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

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

3. Formulate a Hypothesis

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

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

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

4. Refine Your Hypothesis

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

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

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Hypothesis Examples

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

Ask Pros to Make a Perfect Hypothesis for You!

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

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

How to Write a Strong Hypothesis | Guide & Examples

Published on 6 May 2022 by Shona McCombes .

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

Table of contents

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

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

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

Variables in hypotheses

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

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

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

Step 1: ask a question.

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

Step 2: Do some preliminary research

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

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

Step 3: Formulate your hypothesis

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

Step 4: Refine your hypothesis

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

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

Step 5: Phrase your hypothesis in three ways

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

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

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

Step 6. Write a null hypothesis

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

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

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

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

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

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McCombes, S. (2022, May 06). How to Write a Strong Hypothesis | Guide & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 2 January 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/research-methods/hypothesis-writing/

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How to Write a Hypothesis for an Essay

Last Updated: September 16, 2021

wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, volunteer authors worked to edit and improve it over time. This article has been viewed 22,067 times.

A hypothesis is an educated guess as to what will happen, given a certain set of circumstances. [1] X Research source Hypotheses are often used in science. Scientists look at a given set of circumstances or parameters and make an educated guess about how those circumstances affect something else. Then, they test that guess. Essays are often used to write up the results of these experiments. But before you ever write this type of essay, you have to choose and write out a hypothesis to test.

Narrowing Down Your Topic

Step 1 Choose a broad category.

  • It’s easy to use the library database at your local library. Once you locate the library’s databases, you should pick out ones that are focused on science articles.
  • Most libraries have some form of EBSCOhost, and if you use advanced search, you can select the databases you want, such as Science and Technology or Science Reference Center.
  • Once you’ve decided on databases, you can use search terms to find what you need. Ask your librarian can help you if you’re having trouble.

Step 3 Choose resources based on your level of study.

  • As a high school student, you’ll want to stick to more basic stuff; you can find databases geared towards your level, and your librarian should be able to point you in the right direction.
  • If you’re a college student, you should be able to use most of what you find in the academic databases. You can also use your textbook to help you decide what you want to study, as well as whose theories you will base your own experiment on.
  • For instance, maybe you want to study Gregor Mendel’s techniques with genetics and plants.

Step 4 Continue to explore the topic.

  • It’s best to keep all of the bibliographical information together so you can find it again. Just make sure you jot down the name of the author when you begin taking notes from a source, so you know what bibliographic entry it came from.
  • You should also note where you found the article or book, as well, so you can go back to it if you need to do further research.

Step 5 Make sure your topic is not too broad, but not too narrow either.

  • It is possible to be too narrow, but it is easier to expand it a bit if you need to rather than to condense it after you’ve tried to tackle too much research. If you are a younger student, such as a high school student, you may just want to repeat Mendel’s experiments to see how they work.
  • If you are an older student, such as a graduate student, your work will need to be more original. You will need to put your own spin on plants and genetics. Maybe you want to study how splicing together two plants changes the genes of the plant over time.

Composing the Hypothesis

Step 1 Begin by organizing your research.

  • That is, with a paper on hybrids, you might want to make one category on Mendel’s research, one for newer studies that are similar, one for splicing, and one for the type of cucumber you are using.

Step 2 Look at previous studies that focus on what you want to do.

  • To conduct the experiment, you will splice plants that manifest certain characteristics to see which produces the desired results. In this case, you are manipulating genes by picking plants for certain characteristics.
  • According to Explorable, the point of an experiment is to change one variable while controlling other ones and watching for changes. [3] X Research source That is, with the cucumbers, you would need a control, such as splicing one set of cucumber plants at random, noting its characteristics, instead of choosing for a particular characteristic. Then you compare the fruit each type of plants produce.

Step 4 Based on your research, predict how the experiment will turn out.

  • Also include how you plan to carry out the experiment and what you expect to happen. Because a hypothesis is a guess about what will happen, you have to spell out for your reader what you're thinking.
  • Start putting it together into a formal sentence. Basically, your hypothesis is how you tell your reader in one concise sentence what you are going to do. You are boiling it down as much as possible.

Step 6 Be as specific as possible.

  • For instance, for this experiment, you could write something like, “This experiment will test the hypothesis that selecting Armenian cucumbers (scientific name Cucumis melo var. flexuosus) for crispiness and splicing those plants together will, over time, produce a crisper cucumber, and this hypothesis will be tested by selecting cucumbers for crispiness to splice with cucumbers with similar traits, along with a control group for comparing results.”
  • This hypothesis is specific, it tells what you want to do, and it gives an idea of how you are going to do it.

Step 7 Have someone read over your hypothesis.

Expert Q&A

  • Essentially, to write a hypothesis, you need to pick a field and narrow down to an experiment you want to conduct. Make an educated guess about that experiment, and write it up formally for your paper. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • For instance, a kid doing science project might guess that a plant will grow better if it is fed tea rather than water. It is an educated guess because the kid knows that tea has more nutrients than water, so it might help it grow faster. The kid will then test the hypothesis by performing a set of experiments over time, comparing a plant growing with just water to one growing with tea, to prove whether her hypothesis was correct or not. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Remember that you will not necessarily prove your hypothesis is correct. The point of the experiment is to see if you are right, but you may not be. The outcome of the experiment should not affect the quality of the essay one way or the other. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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How to Write a Great Hypothesis

Hypothesis Format, Examples, and Tips

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

essay on 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.

essay on hypothesis

Verywell / Alex Dos Diaz

  • The Scientific Method

Hypothesis Format

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

  • Collecting Data

Frequently Asked Questions

A hypothesis is a tentative statement about the relationship between two or more  variables. It is a specific, testable prediction about what you expect to happen in a study.

One hypothesis example would be a study designed to look at the relationship between sleep deprivation and test performance might have a hypothesis that states: "This study is designed to assess the hypothesis that sleep-deprived people will perform worse on a test than individuals who are not sleep-deprived."

This article explores how a hypothesis is used in psychology research, how to write a good hypothesis, and the different types of hypotheses you might use.

The Hypothesis in the Scientific Method

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

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

The hypothesis is a prediction, but it involves more than a guess. Most of the time, the hypothesis begins with a question which is then explored through background research. It is only at this point that researchers begin to develop a testable hypothesis. Unless you are creating an exploratory study, your hypothesis should always explain what you  expect  to happen.

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

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

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

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

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

Elements of a Good Hypothesis

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

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

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

To form a hypothesis, you should take these steps:

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

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

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

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

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

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

These precise descriptions are important because many things can be measured in a number of different ways. One of the basic principles of any type of scientific research is that the results must be replicable.   By clearly detailing the specifics of how the variables were measured and manipulated, other researchers can better understand the results and repeat the study if needed.

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

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

Hypothesis Checklist

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

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

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

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

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

A few examples of simple hypotheses:

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

Examples of a complex hypothesis include:

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

Examples of a null hypothesis include:

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

Examples of an alternative hypothesis:

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

Collecting Data on Your Hypothesis

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

Descriptive Research Methods

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

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

Experimental Research Methods

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

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

A Word From Verywell

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

Some examples of how to write a hypothesis include:

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

The four parts of a hypothesis are:

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

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

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

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

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Strong Hypothesis

    Step 1. Ask a question Writing a hypothesis begins with a research question that you want to answer.

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

    A hypothesis is a statement that explains the predictions and reasoning of your research—an “educated guess” about how your scientific experiments will end. As a fundamental part of the scientific method, a good hypothesis is carefully written, but even the simplest ones can be difficult to put into words.

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

    How to Write a Hypothesis: Types, Steps and Examples | EssayPro Working on a hypothesis but not sure if it is written correctly? Click on the article to learn how to formulate one. WritersHow to Order Services

  4. How to Write a Strong Hypothesis

    A hypothesis is a statement that can be tested by scientific research. If you want to test a relationship between two or more variables, you need to write hypotheses before you start your experiment or data collection. Example: Hypothesis Daily apple consumption leads to fewer doctor’s visits. Table of contents What is a hypothesis?

  5. How to Write a Hypothesis for an Essay: 12 Steps (with Pictures)

    1 Choose a broad category. Hypotheses are mainly used in the sciences, but you still need to narrow down the field. If your class is in organic chemistry or botany, you still need to narrow down the field even further. Choose a particular aspect of the field, such as genetics in botany. 2 Do some preliminary research in the narrowed field.

  6. How to Write a Great Hypothesis

    Theories How to Write a Great Hypothesis Hypothesis Format, Examples, and Tips By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Updated on March 12, 2023 Medically reviewed by Amy Morin, LCSW Verywell / Alex Dos Diaz Table of Contents View All The Scientific Method Hypothesis Format Falsifiability of a Hypothesis Operational Definitions Types of Hypotheses