Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.

  • Knowledge Base


  • 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 .

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 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


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

Research bias

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

Here's why students love Scribbr's proofreading services

Discover proofreading & editing

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.

Cite this Scribbr article

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

McCombes, S. (2023, November 20). How to Write a Strong Hypothesis | Steps & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved April 11, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/methodology/hypothesis/

Is this article helpful?

Shona McCombes

Shona McCombes

Other students also liked, construct validity | definition, types, & examples, what is a conceptual framework | tips & examples, operationalization | a guide with examples, pros & cons, unlimited academic ai-proofreading.

✔ Document error-free in 5minutes ✔ Unlimited document corrections ✔ Specialized in correcting academic texts

Grad Coach

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

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

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

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

Research Hypothesis 101

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

What is a hypothesis?

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

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

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

Hypothesis: sleep impacts academic performance.

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

But that’s not good enough…

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

What is a research hypothesis?

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

Let’s take a look at these more closely.

Need a helping hand?

what is a hypothesis also known as

Hypothesis Essential #1: Specificity & Clarity

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hypothesis Essential #2: Testability (Provability)

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

For example, consider the hypothesis we mentioned earlier:

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

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

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

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

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

Defining A Research Hypothesis

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

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

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

What about the null hypothesis?

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

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

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

And there you have it – hypotheses in a nutshell. 

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

what is a hypothesis also known as

Psst… there’s more (for free)

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

You Might Also Like:

Research limitations vs delimitations


Lynnet Chikwaikwai

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

Dr. WuodArek

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


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

GANDI Benjamin

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

Lucile Dossou-Yovo

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


It’s a counter-proposal to be proven as a rejection

Egya Salihu

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

Mulugeta Tefera

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

Derek Jansen

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


could you please elaborate it more

Patricia Nyawir

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

Hopeson Khondiwa

This is very helpful

Dr. Andarge

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


Excellent. Thanks for being clear and sound about the research methodology and hypothesis (quantitative research)

I have only a simple question regarding the null hypothesis. – Is the null hypothesis (Ho) known as the reversible hypothesis of the alternative hypothesis (H1? – How to test it in academic research?

Tesfaye Negesa Urge

this is very important note help me much more


  • What Is Research Methodology? Simple Definition (With Examples) - Grad Coach - […] Contrasted to this, a quantitative methodology is typically used when the research aims and objectives are confirmatory in nature. For example,…

Submit a Comment Cancel reply

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

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

  • Print Friendly

What Is a Hypothesis? (Science)


Angela Lumsden/Getty Images

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

A hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation for an observation. The definition depends on the subject.

In science, a hypothesis is part of the scientific method. It is a prediction or explanation that is tested by an experiment. Observations and experiments may disprove a scientific hypothesis, but can never entirely prove one.

In the study of logic, a hypothesis is an if-then proposition, typically written in the form, "If X , then Y ."

In common usage, a hypothesis is simply a proposed explanation or prediction, which may or may not be tested.

Writing a Hypothesis

Most scientific hypotheses are proposed in the if-then format because it's easy to design an experiment to see whether or not a cause and effect relationship exists between the independent variable and the dependent variable . The hypothesis is written as a prediction of the outcome of the experiment.

  • Null Hypothesis and Alternative Hypothesis

Statistically, it's easier to show there is no relationship between two variables than to support their connection. So, scientists often propose the null hypothesis . The null hypothesis assumes changing the independent variable will have no effect on the dependent variable.

In contrast, the alternative hypothesis suggests changing the independent variable will have an effect on the dependent variable. Designing an experiment to test this hypothesis can be trickier because there are many ways to state an alternative hypothesis.

For example, consider a possible relationship between getting a good night's sleep and getting good grades. The null hypothesis might be stated: "The number of hours of sleep students get is unrelated to their grades" or "There is no correlation between hours of sleep and grades."

An experiment to test this hypothesis might involve collecting data, recording average hours of sleep for each student and grades. If a student who gets eight hours of sleep generally does better than students who get four hours of sleep or 10 hours of sleep, the hypothesis might be rejected.

But the alternative hypothesis is harder to propose and test. The most general statement would be: "The amount of sleep students get affects their grades." The hypothesis might also be stated as "If you get more sleep, your grades will improve" or "Students who get nine hours of sleep have better grades than those who get more or less sleep."

In an experiment, you can collect the same data, but the statistical analysis is less likely to give you a high confidence limit.

Usually, a scientist starts out with the null hypothesis. From there, it may be possible to propose and test an alternative hypothesis, to narrow down the relationship between the variables.

Example of a Hypothesis

Examples of a hypothesis include:

  • If you drop a rock and a feather, (then) they will fall at the same rate.
  • Plants need sunlight in order to live. (if sunlight, then life)
  • Eating sugar gives you energy. (if sugar, then energy)
  • White, Jay D.  Research in Public Administration . Conn., 1998.
  • Schick, Theodore, and Lewis Vaughn.  How to Think about Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age . McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2002.
  • Null Hypothesis Definition and Examples
  • Definition of a Hypothesis
  • What Are the Elements of a Good Hypothesis?
  • Six Steps of the Scientific Method
  • What Are Examples of a Hypothesis?
  • Understanding Simple vs Controlled Experiments
  • Scientific Method Flow Chart
  • Scientific Method Vocabulary Terms
  • What Is a Testable Hypothesis?
  • Null Hypothesis Examples
  • What 'Fail to Reject' Means in a Hypothesis Test
  • How To Design a Science Fair Experiment
  • What Is an Experiment? Definition and Design
  • Hypothesis Test for the Difference of Two Population Proportions
  • How to Conduct a Hypothesis Test


Choose Your Test

Sat / act prep online guides and tips, what is a hypothesis and how do i write one.

author image

General Education


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!


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.


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.  


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. 


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. 


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?


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 ).


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.


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

author image

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.

Student and Parent Forum

Our new student and parent forum, at ExpertHub.PrepScholar.com , allow you to interact with your peers and the PrepScholar staff. See how other students and parents are navigating high school, college, and the college admissions process. Ask questions; get answers.

Join the Conversation

Ask a Question Below

Have any questions about this article or other topics? Ask below and we'll reply!

Improve With Our Famous Guides

  • For All Students

The 5 Strategies You Must Be Using to Improve 160+ SAT Points

How to Get a Perfect 1600, by a Perfect Scorer

Series: How to Get 800 on Each SAT Section:

Score 800 on SAT Math

Score 800 on SAT Reading

Score 800 on SAT Writing

Series: How to Get to 600 on Each SAT Section:

Score 600 on SAT Math

Score 600 on SAT Reading

Score 600 on SAT Writing

Free Complete Official SAT Practice Tests

What SAT Target Score Should You Be Aiming For?

15 Strategies to Improve Your SAT Essay

The 5 Strategies You Must Be Using to Improve 4+ ACT Points

How to Get a Perfect 36 ACT, by a Perfect Scorer

Series: How to Get 36 on Each ACT Section:

36 on ACT English

36 on ACT Math

36 on ACT Reading

36 on ACT Science

Series: How to Get to 24 on Each ACT Section:

24 on ACT English

24 on ACT Math

24 on ACT Reading

24 on ACT Science

What ACT target score should you be aiming for?

ACT Vocabulary You Must Know

ACT Writing: 15 Tips to Raise Your Essay Score

How to Get Into Harvard and the Ivy League

How to Get a Perfect 4.0 GPA

How to Write an Amazing College Essay

What Exactly Are Colleges Looking For?

Is the ACT easier than the SAT? A Comprehensive Guide

Should you retake your SAT or ACT?

When should you take the SAT or ACT?

Stay Informed

what is a hypothesis also known as

Get the latest articles and test prep tips!

Looking for Graduate School Test Prep?

Check out our top-rated graduate blogs here:

GRE Online Prep Blog

GMAT Online Prep Blog

TOEFL Online Prep Blog

Holly R. "I am absolutely overjoyed and cannot thank you enough for helping me!”
  • Privacy Policy

Buy Me a Coffee

Research Method

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

What is a Hypothesis – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

What is a Hypothesis


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

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

Types of Hypothesis

Types of Hypothesis are as follows:

Research Hypothesis

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

Null Hypothesis

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

Alternative Hypothesis

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

Directional Hypothesis

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

Non-directional Hypothesis

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

Statistical Hypothesis

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

Composite Hypothesis

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

Empirical Hypothesis

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

Simple Hypothesis

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

Complex Hypothesis

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

Applications of Hypothesis

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

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

How to write a Hypothesis

Here are the steps to follow when writing a hypothesis:

Identify the Research Question

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

Conduct a Literature Review

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

Determine the Variables

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

Formulate the Hypothesis

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

Write the Null Hypothesis

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

Refine the Hypothesis

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

Examples of Hypothesis

Here are a few examples of hypotheses in different fields:

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

Purpose of Hypothesis

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

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

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

When to use Hypothesis

Here are some common situations in which hypotheses are used:

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

Characteristics of Hypothesis

Here are some common characteristics of a hypothesis:

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

Advantages of Hypothesis

Hypotheses have several advantages in scientific research and experimentation:

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

Limitations of Hypothesis

Some Limitations of the Hypothesis are as follows:

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

About the author

' src=

Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

You may also like

Data collection

Data Collection – Methods Types and Examples


Delimitations in Research – Types, Examples and...

Research Process

Research Process – Steps, Examples and Tips

Research Design

Research Design – Types, Methods and Examples

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

Institutional Review Board – Application Sample...

Evaluating Research

Evaluating Research – Process, Examples and...

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


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

Sign up for the Live Science daily newsletter now

Get the world’s most fascinating discoveries delivered straight to your inbox.

Alina Bradford

Part of the San Andreas fault may be gearing up for an earthquake

Antarctica is covered in volcanoes, could they erupt?

'Exceptional' prosthesis of gold, silver and wool helped 18th-century man live with cleft palate

Most Popular

  • 2 Eclipse from space: See the moon's shadow race across North America at 1,500 mph in epic satellite footage
  • 3 Superfast drone fitted with new 'rotating detonation rocket engine' approaches the speed of sound
  • 4 NASA spacecraft snaps mysterious 'surfboard' orbiting the moon. What is it?
  • 5 Neolithic women in Europe were tied up and buried alive in ritual sacrifices, study suggests
  • 2 No, you didn't see a solar flare during the total eclipse — but you may have seen something just as special
  • 3 Decomposing globster washes ashore in Malaysia, drawing crowds
  • 4 Eclipse from space: See the moon's shadow race across North America at 1,500 mph in epic satellite footage
  • 5 Superfast drone fitted with new 'rotating detonation rocket engine' approaches the speed of sound

what is a hypothesis also known as

  • Resources Home 🏠
  • Try SciSpace Copilot
  • Search research papers
  • Add Copilot Extension
  • Try AI Detector
  • Try Paraphraser
  • Try Citation Generator
  • April Papers
  • June Papers
  • July Papers

SciSpace Resources

The Craft of Writing a Strong Hypothesis

Deeptanshu D

Table of Contents

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

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

What is a Hypothesis?

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

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

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

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

Different Types of Hypotheses‌


Types of hypotheses

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 writing a hypothesis

1.  Be clear about your research question

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

2. Carry out a recce

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

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

3. Create a 3-dimensional hypothesis

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

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

4. Write the first draft

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

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

5. Proof your hypothesis

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. what is the definition of hypothesis.

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

2. What is an example of hypothesis?

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

3. What is an example of null hypothesis?

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

4. What are the types of research?

• Fundamental research

• Applied research

• Qualitative research

• Quantitative research

• Mixed research

• Exploratory research

• Longitudinal research

• Cross-sectional research

• Field research

• Laboratory research

• Fixed research

• Flexible research

• Action research

• Policy research

• Classification research

• Comparative research

• Causal research

• Inductive research

• Deductive research

5. How to write a hypothesis?

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

• Avoid wordiness by keeping it simple and brief.

• Your hypothesis should contain observable and testable outcomes.

• Your hypothesis should be relevant to the research question.

6. What are the 2 types of hypothesis?

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

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

7. Difference between research question and research hypothesis?

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

8. What is plural for hypothesis?

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

9. What is the red queen hypothesis?

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

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

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

11. When to reject null hypothesis?

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

what is a hypothesis also known as

You might also like

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

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

Sumalatha G

Literature Review and Theoretical Framework: Understanding the Differences

Nikhil Seethi

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

  • More from M-W
  • To save this word, you'll need to log in. Log In

Definition of hypothesis

Did you know.

The Difference Between Hypothesis and Theory

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

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

A hypothesis is usually tentative; it's an assumption or suggestion made strictly for the objective of being tested.

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

In non-scientific use, however, hypothesis and theory are often used interchangeably to mean simply an idea, speculation, or hunch, with theory being the more common choice.

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

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

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

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

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

  • proposition
  • supposition

hypothesis , theory , law mean a formula derived by inference from scientific data that explains a principle operating in nature.

hypothesis implies insufficient evidence to provide more than a tentative explanation.

theory implies a greater range of evidence and greater likelihood of truth.

law implies a statement of order and relation in nature that has been found to be invariable under the same conditions.

Examples of hypothesis in a Sentence

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hypothesis.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Greek, from hypotithenai to put under, suppose, from hypo- + tithenai to put — more at do

1641, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Phrases Containing hypothesis

  • counter - hypothesis
  • nebular hypothesis
  • Whorfian hypothesis
  • null hypothesis
  • planetesimal hypothesis

Articles Related to hypothesis


This is the Difference Between a...

This is the Difference Between a Hypothesis and a Theory

In scientific reasoning, they're two completely different things

Dictionary Entries Near hypothesis



Cite this Entry

“Hypothesis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hypothesis. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

Kids definition of hypothesis, medical definition, medical definition of hypothesis, more from merriam-webster on hypothesis.

Nglish: Translation of hypothesis for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hypothesis for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hypothesis

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Play Quordle: Guess all four words in a limited number of tries.  Each of your guesses must be a real 5-letter word.

Can you solve 4 words at once?

Word of the day.

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Popular in Grammar & Usage

Your vs. you're: how to use them correctly, every letter is silent, sometimes: a-z list of examples, more commonly mispronounced words, how to use em dashes (—), en dashes (–) , and hyphens (-), absent letters that are heard anyway, popular in wordplay, the words of the week - apr. 12, 10 scrabble words without any vowels, 12 more bird names that sound like insults (and sometimes are), 8 uncommon words related to love, 9 superb owl words, games & quizzes.

Play Blossom: Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.


What is Hypothesis? Definition, Meaning, Characteristics, Sources

  • Post last modified: 10 January 2022
  • Reading time: 18 mins read
  • Post category: Research Methodology

Coursera 7-Day Trail offer

  • What is Hypothesis?

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

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

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

Table of Content

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

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

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

Hypothesis Definition

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

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

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

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

Meaning of Hypothesis

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

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

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

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

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

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

Characteristics of Hypothesis

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

Conceptual Clarity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources of Hypothesis

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


State of knowledge, continuity of research.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Null and Alternative Hypothesis

Null hypothesis.

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

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

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

Alternative Hypothesis

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

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

Business Ethics

( Click on Topic to Read )

  • What is Ethics?
  • What is Business Ethics?
  • Values, Norms, Beliefs and Standards in Business Ethics
  • Indian Ethos in Management
  • Ethical Issues in Marketing
  • Ethical Issues in HRM
  • Ethical Issues in IT
  • Ethical Issues in Production and Operations Management
  • Ethical Issues in Finance and Accounting
  • What is Corporate Governance?
  • What is Ownership Concentration?
  • What is Ownership Composition?
  • Types of Companies in India
  • Internal Corporate Governance
  • External Corporate Governance
  • Corporate Governance in India
  • What is Enterprise Risk Management (ERM)?
  • What is Assessment of Risk?
  • What is Risk Register?
  • Risk Management Committee

Corporate social responsibility (CSR)

  • Theories of CSR
  • Arguments Against CSR
  • Business Case for CSR
  • Importance of CSR in India
  • Drivers of Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Developing a CSR Strategy
  • Implement CSR Commitments
  • CSR Marketplace
  • CSR at Workplace
  • Environmental CSR
  • CSR with Communities and in Supply Chain
  • Community Interventions
  • CSR Monitoring
  • CSR Reporting
  • Voluntary Codes in CSR
  • What is Corporate Ethics?

Lean Six Sigma

  • What is Six Sigma?
  • What is Lean Six Sigma?
  • Value and Waste in Lean Six Sigma
  • Six Sigma Team
  • MAIC Six Sigma
  • Six Sigma in Supply Chains
  • What is Binomial, Poisson, Normal Distribution?
  • What is Sigma Level?
  • What is DMAIC in Six Sigma?
  • What is DMADV in Six Sigma?
  • Six Sigma Project Charter
  • Project Decomposition in Six Sigma
  • Critical to Quality (CTQ) Six Sigma
  • Process Mapping Six Sigma
  • Flowchart and SIPOC
  • Gage Repeatability and Reproducibility
  • Statistical Diagram
  • Lean Techniques for Optimisation Flow
  • Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
  • What is Process Audits?
  • Six Sigma Implementation at Ford
  • IBM Uses Six Sigma to Drive Behaviour Change
  • Research Methodology
  • What is Research?

Sampling Method

  • Research Methods

Data Collection in Research

  • Methods of Collecting Data
  • Application of Business Research
  • Levels of Measurement
  • What is Sampling?
  • Hypothesis Testing
  • Research Report
  • What is Management?
  • Planning in Management
  • Decision Making in Management
  • What is Controlling?
  • What is Coordination?
  • What is Staffing?
  • Organization Structure
  • What is Departmentation?
  • Span of Control
  • What is Authority?
  • Centralization vs Decentralization
  • Organizing in Management
  • Schools of Management Thought
  • Classical Management Approach
  • Is Management an Art or Science?
  • Who is a Manager?

Operations Research

  • What is Operations Research?
  • Operation Research Models
  • Linear Programming
  • Linear Programming Graphic Solution
  • Linear Programming Simplex Method
  • Linear Programming Artificial Variable Technique
  • Duality in Linear Programming
  • Transportation Problem Initial Basic Feasible Solution
  • Transportation Problem Finding Optimal Solution
  • Project Network Analysis with Critical Path Method
  • Project Network Analysis Methods
  • Project Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)
  • Simulation in Operation Research
  • Replacement Models in Operation Research

Operation Management

  • What is Strategy?
  • What is Operations Strategy?
  • Operations Competitive Dimensions
  • Operations Strategy Formulation Process
  • What is Strategic Fit?
  • Strategic Design Process
  • Focused Operations Strategy
  • Corporate Level Strategy
  • Expansion Strategies
  • Stability Strategies
  • Retrenchment Strategies
  • Competitive Advantage
  • Strategic Choice and Strategic Alternatives
  • What is Production Process?
  • What is Process Technology?
  • What is Process Improvement?
  • Strategic Capacity Management
  • Production and Logistics Strategy
  • Taxonomy of Supply Chain Strategies
  • Factors Considered in Supply Chain Planning
  • Operational and Strategic Issues in Global Logistics
  • Logistics Outsourcing Strategy
  • What is Supply Chain Mapping?
  • Supply Chain Process Restructuring
  • Points of Differentiation
  • Re-engineering Improvement in SCM
  • What is Supply Chain Drivers?
  • Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) Model
  • Customer Service and Cost Trade Off
  • Internal and External Performance Measures
  • Linking Supply Chain and Business Performance
  • Netflix’s Niche Focused Strategy
  • Disney and Pixar Merger
  • Process Planning at Mcdonald’s

Service Operations Management

  • What is Service?
  • What is Service Operations Management?
  • What is Service Design?
  • Service Design Process
  • Service Delivery
  • What is Service Quality?
  • Gap Model of Service Quality
  • Juran Trilogy
  • Service Performance Measurement
  • Service Decoupling
  • IT Service Operation
  • Service Operations Management in Different Sector

Procurement Management

  • What is Procurement Management?
  • Procurement Negotiation
  • Types of Requisition
  • RFX in Procurement
  • What is Purchasing Cycle?
  • Vendor Managed Inventory
  • Internal Conflict During Purchasing Operation
  • Spend Analysis in Procurement
  • Sourcing in Procurement
  • Supplier Evaluation and Selection in Procurement
  • Blacklisting of Suppliers in Procurement
  • Total Cost of Ownership in Procurement
  • Incoterms in Procurement
  • Documents Used in International Procurement
  • Transportation and Logistics Strategy
  • What is Capital Equipment?
  • Procurement Process of Capital Equipment
  • Acquisition of Technology in Procurement
  • What is E-Procurement?
  • E-marketplace and Online Catalogues
  • Fixed Price and Cost Reimbursement Contracts
  • Contract Cancellation in Procurement
  • Ethics in Procurement
  • Legal Aspects of Procurement
  • Global Sourcing in Procurement
  • Intermediaries and Countertrade in Procurement

Strategic Management

  • What is Strategic Management?
  • What is Value Chain Analysis?
  • Mission Statement
  • Business Level Strategy
  • What is SWOT Analysis?
  • What is Competitive Advantage?
  • What is Vision?
  • What is Ansoff Matrix?
  • Prahalad and Gary Hammel
  • Strategic Management In Global Environment
  • Competitor Analysis Framework
  • Competitive Rivalry Analysis
  • Competitive Dynamics
  • What is Competitive Rivalry?
  • Five Competitive Forces That Shape Strategy
  • What is PESTLE Analysis?
  • Fragmentation and Consolidation Of Industries
  • What is Technology Life Cycle?
  • What is Diversification Strategy?
  • What is Corporate Restructuring Strategy?
  • Resources and Capabilities of Organization
  • Role of Leaders In Functional-Level Strategic Management
  • Functional Structure In Functional Level Strategy Formulation
  • Information And Control System
  • What is Strategy Gap Analysis?
  • Issues In Strategy Implementation
  • Matrix Organizational Structure
  • What is Strategic Management Process?

Supply Chain

  • What is Supply Chain Management?
  • Supply Chain Planning and Measuring Strategy Performance
  • What is Warehousing?
  • What is Packaging?
  • What is Inventory Management?
  • What is Material Handling?
  • What is Order Picking?
  • Receiving and Dispatch, Processes
  • What is Warehouse Design?
  • What is Warehousing Costs?

You Might Also Like

What is research design types, what is research methodology, what is descriptive research types, features, what is sampling need, advantages, limitations, types of charts used in data analysis, sampling process and characteristics of good sample design, ethics in research, data analysis in research, types of hypotheses, data processing in research, leave a reply cancel reply.

You must be logged in to post a comment.

World's Best Online Courses at One Place

We’ve spent the time in finding, so you can spend your time in learning

Digital Marketing

Personal growth.

what is a hypothesis also known as


what is a hypothesis also known as

  • Scientific Methods

What is Hypothesis?

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

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

Characteristics of Hypothesis

Following are the characteristics of the hypothesis:

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

Sources of Hypothesis

Following are the sources of hypothesis:

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

Types of Hypothesis

There are six forms of hypothesis and they are:

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

Simple Hypothesis

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

Complex Hypothesis

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

Directional Hypothesis

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

Non-directional Hypothesis

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

Null Hypothesis

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

Associative and Causal Hypothesis

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

Examples of Hypothesis

Following are the examples of hypotheses based on their types:

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

Functions of Hypothesis

Following are the functions performed by the hypothesis:

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

How will Hypothesis help in the Scientific Method?

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

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

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

What is hypothesis.

A hypothesis is an assumption made based on some evidence.

Give an example of simple hypothesis?

What are the types of hypothesis.

Types of hypothesis are:

  • Associative and Casual hypothesis

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

Define complex hypothesis..

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

Quiz Image

Put your understanding of this concept to test by answering a few MCQs. Click ‘Start Quiz’ to begin!

Select the correct answer and click on the “Finish” button Check your score and answers at the end of the quiz

Visit BYJU’S for all Physics related queries and study materials

Your result is as below

Request OTP on Voice Call

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

Your Mobile number and Email id will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post My Comment

what is a hypothesis also known as

  • Share Share

Register with BYJU'S & Download Free PDFs

Register with byju's & watch live videos.


helpful professor logo

13 Different Types of Hypothesis

hypothesis definition and example, explained below

There are 13 different types of hypothesis. These include simple, complex, null, alternative, composite, directional, non-directional, logical, empirical, statistical, associative, exact, and inexact.

A hypothesis can be categorized into one or more of these types. However, some are mutually exclusive and opposites. Simple and complex hypotheses are mutually exclusive, as are direction and non-direction, and null and alternative hypotheses.

Below I explain each hypothesis in simple terms for absolute beginners. These definitions may be too simple for some, but they’re designed to be clear introductions to the terms to help people wrap their heads around the concepts early on in their education about research methods .

Types of Hypothesis

Before you Proceed: Dependent vs Independent Variables

A research study and its hypotheses generally examine the relationships between independent and dependent variables – so you need to know these two concepts:

  • The independent variable is the variable that is causing a change.
  • The dependent variable is the variable the is affected by the change. This is the variable being tested.

Read my full article on dependent vs independent variables for more examples.

Example: Eating carrots (independent variable) improves eyesight (dependent variable).

1. Simple Hypothesis

A simple hypothesis is a hypothesis that predicts a correlation between two test variables: an independent and a dependent variable.

This is the easiest and most straightforward type of hypothesis. You simply need to state an expected correlation between the dependant variable and the independent variable.

You do not need to predict causation (see: directional hypothesis). All you would need to do is prove that the two variables are linked.

Simple Hypothesis Examples

2. complex hypothesis.

A complex hypothesis is a hypothesis that contains multiple variables, making the hypothesis more specific but also harder to prove.

You can have multiple independent and dependant variables in this hypothesis.

Complex Hypothesis Example

In the above example, we have multiple independent and dependent variables:

  • Independent variables: Age and weight.
  • Dependent variables: diabetes and heart disease.

Because there are multiple variables, this study is a lot more complex than a simple hypothesis. It quickly gets much more difficult to prove these hypotheses. This is why undergraduate and first-time researchers are usually encouraged to use simple hypotheses.

3. Null Hypothesis

A null hypothesis will predict that there will be no significant relationship between the two test variables.

For example, you can say that “The study will show that there is no correlation between marriage and happiness.”

A good way to think about a null hypothesis is to think of it in the same way as “innocent until proven guilty”[1]. Unless you can come up with evidence otherwise, your null hypothesis will stand.

A null hypothesis may also highlight that a correlation will be inconclusive . This means that you can predict that the study will not be able to confirm your results one way or the other. For example, you can say “It is predicted that the study will be unable to confirm a correlation between the two variables due to foreseeable interference by a third variable .”

Beware that an inconclusive null hypothesis may be questioned by your teacher. Why would you conduct a test that you predict will not provide a clear result? Perhaps you should take a closer look at your methodology and re-examine it. Nevertheless, inconclusive null hypotheses can sometimes have merit.

Null Hypothesis Examples

4. alternative hypothesis.

An alternative hypothesis is a hypothesis that is anything other than the null hypothesis. It will disprove the null hypothesis.

We use the symbol H A or H 1 to denote an alternative hypothesis.

The null and alternative hypotheses are usually used together. We will say the null hypothesis is the case where a relationship between two variables is non-existent. The alternative hypothesis is the case where there is a relationship between those two variables.

The following statement is always true: H 0 ≠ H A .

Let’s take the example of the hypothesis: “Does eating oatmeal before an exam impact test scores?”

We can have two hypotheses here:

  • Null hypothesis (H 0 ): “Eating oatmeal before an exam does not impact test scores.”
  • Alternative hypothesis (H A ): “Eating oatmeal before an exam does impact test scores.”

For the alternative hypothesis to be true, all we have to do is disprove the null hypothesis for the alternative hypothesis to be true. We do not need an exact prediction of how much oatmeal will impact the test scores or even if the impact is positive or negative. So long as the null hypothesis is proven to be false, then the alternative hypothesis is proven to be true.

5. Composite Hypothesis

A composite hypothesis is a hypothesis that does not predict the exact parameters, distribution, or range of the dependent variable.

Often, we would predict an exact outcome. For example: “23 year old men are on average 189cm tall.” Here, we are giving an exact parameter. So, the hypothesis is not composite.

But, often, we cannot exactly hypothesize something. We assume that something will happen, but we’re not exactly sure what. In these cases, we might say: “23 year old men are not on average 189cm tall.”

We haven’t set a distribution range or exact parameters of the average height of 23 year old men. So, we’ve introduced a composite hypothesis as opposed to an exact hypothesis.

Generally, an alternative hypothesis (discussed above) is composite because it is defined as anything except the null hypothesis. This ‘anything except’ does not define parameters or distribution, and therefore it’s an example of a composite hypothesis.

6. Directional Hypothesis

A directional hypothesis makes a prediction about the positivity or negativity of the effect of an intervention prior to the test being conducted.

Instead of being agnostic about whether the effect will be positive or negative, it nominates the effect’s directionality.

We often call this a one-tailed hypothesis (in contrast to a two-tailed or non-directional hypothesis) because, looking at a distribution graph, we’re hypothesizing that the results will lean toward one particular tail on the graph – either the positive or negative.

Directional Hypothesis Examples

7. non-directional hypothesis.

A non-directional hypothesis does not specify the predicted direction (e.g. positivity or negativity) of the effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable.

These hypotheses predict an effect, but stop short of saying what that effect will be.

A non-directional hypothesis is similar to composite and alternative hypotheses. All three types of hypothesis tend to make predictions without defining a direction. In a composite hypothesis, a specific prediction is not made (although a general direction may be indicated, so the overlap is not complete). For an alternative hypothesis, you often predict that the even will be anything but the null hypothesis, which means it could be more or less than H 0 (or in other words, non-directional).

Let’s turn the above directional hypotheses into non-directional hypotheses.

Non-Directional Hypothesis Examples

8. logical hypothesis.

A logical hypothesis is a hypothesis that cannot be tested, but has some logical basis underpinning our assumptions.

These are most commonly used in philosophy because philosophical questions are often untestable and therefore we must rely on our logic to formulate logical theories.

Usually, we would want to turn a logical hypothesis into an empirical one through testing if we got the chance. Unfortunately, we don’t always have this opportunity because the test is too complex, expensive, or simply unrealistic.

Here are some examples:

  • Before the 1980s, it was hypothesized that the Titanic came to its resting place at 41° N and 49° W, based on the time the ship sank and the ship’s presumed path across the Atlantic Ocean. However, due to the depth of the ocean, it was impossible to test. Thus, the hypothesis was simply a logical hypothesis.
  • Dinosaurs closely related to Aligators probably had green scales because Aligators have green scales. However, as they are all extinct, we can only rely on logic and not empirical data.

9. Empirical Hypothesis

An empirical hypothesis is the opposite of a logical hypothesis. It is a hypothesis that is currently being tested using scientific analysis. We can also call this a ‘working hypothesis’.

We can to separate research into two types: theoretical and empirical. Theoretical research relies on logic and thought experiments. Empirical research relies on tests that can be verified by observation and measurement.

So, an empirical hypothesis is a hypothesis that can and will be tested.

  • Raising the wage of restaurant servers increases staff retention.
  • Adding 1 lb of corn per day to cows’ diets decreases their lifespan.
  • Mushrooms grow faster at 22 degrees Celsius than 27 degrees Celsius.

Each of the above hypotheses can be tested, making them empirical rather than just logical (aka theoretical).

10. Statistical Hypothesis

A statistical hypothesis utilizes representative statistical models to draw conclusions about broader populations.

It requires the use of datasets or carefully selected representative samples so that statistical inference can be drawn across a larger dataset.

This type of research is necessary when it is impossible to assess every single possible case. Imagine, for example, if you wanted to determine if men are taller than women. You would be unable to measure the height of every man and woman on the planet. But, by conducting sufficient random samples, you would be able to predict with high probability that the results of your study would remain stable across the whole population.

You would be right in guessing that almost all quantitative research studies conducted in academic settings today involve statistical hypotheses.

Statistical Hypothesis Examples

  • Human Sex Ratio. The most famous statistical hypothesis example is that of John Arbuthnot’s sex at birth case study in 1710. Arbuthnot used birth data to determine with high statistical probability that there are more male births than female births. He called this divine providence, and to this day, his findings remain true: more men are born than women.
  • Lady Testing Tea. A 1935 study by Ronald Fisher involved testing a woman who believed she could tell whether milk was added before or after water to a cup of tea. Fisher gave her 4 cups in which one randomly had milk placed before the tea. He repeated the test 8 times. The lady was correct each time. Fisher found that she had a 1 in 70 chance of getting all 8 test correct, which is a statistically significant result.

11. Associative Hypothesis

An associative hypothesis predicts that two variables are linked but does not explore whether one variable directly impacts upon the other variable.

We commonly refer to this as “ correlation does not mean causation ”. Just because there are a lot of sick people in a hospital, it doesn’t mean that the hospital made the people sick. There is something going on there that’s causing the issue (sick people are flocking to the hospital).

So, in an associative hypothesis, you note correlation between an independent and dependent variable but do not make a prediction about how the two interact. You stop short of saying one thing causes another thing.

Associative Hypothesis Examples

  • Sick people in hospital. You could conduct a study hypothesizing that hospitals have more sick people in them than other institutions in society. However, you don’t hypothesize that the hospitals caused the sickness.
  • Lice make you healthy. In the Middle Ages, it was observed that sick people didn’t tend to have lice in their hair. The inaccurate conclusion was that lice was not only a sign of health, but that they made people healthy. In reality, there was an association here, but not causation. The fact was that lice were sensitive to body temperature and fled bodies that had fevers.

12. Causal Hypothesis

A causal hypothesis predicts that two variables are not only associated, but that changes in one variable will cause changes in another.

A causal hypothesis is harder to prove than an associative hypothesis because the cause needs to be definitively proven. This will often require repeating tests in controlled environments with the researchers making manipulations to the independent variable, or the use of control groups and placebo effects .

If we were to take the above example of lice in the hair of sick people, researchers would have to put lice in sick people’s hair and see if it made those people healthier. Researchers would likely observe that the lice would flee the hair, but the sickness would remain, leading to a finding of association but not causation.

Causal Hypothesis Examples

13. exact vs. inexact hypothesis.

For brevity’s sake, I have paired these two hypotheses into the one point. The reality is that we’ve already seen both of these types of hypotheses at play already.

An exact hypothesis (also known as a point hypothesis) specifies a specific prediction whereas an inexact hypothesis assumes a range of possible values without giving an exact outcome. As Helwig [2] argues:

“An “exact” hypothesis specifies the exact value(s) of the parameter(s) of interest, whereas an “inexact” hypothesis specifies a range of possible values for the parameter(s) of interest.”

Generally, a null hypothesis is an exact hypothesis whereas alternative, composite, directional, and non-directional hypotheses are all inexact.

See Next: 15 Hypothesis Examples

This is introductory information that is basic and indeed quite simplified for absolute beginners. It’s worth doing further independent research to get deeper knowledge of research methods and how to conduct an effective research study. And if you’re in education studies, don’t miss out on my list of the best education studies dissertation ideas .

[1] https://jnnp.bmj.com/content/91/6/571.abstract

[2] http://users.stat.umn.edu/~helwig/notes/SignificanceTesting.pdf


Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 5 Top Tips for Succeeding at University
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 50 Durable Goods Examples
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 100 Consumer Goods Examples
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 30 Globalization Pros and Cons

2 thoughts on “13 Different Types of Hypothesis”

' src=

Wow! This introductionary materials are very helpful. I teach the begginers in research for the first time in my career. The given tips and materials are very helpful. Chris, thank you so much! Excellent materials!

' src=

You’re more than welcome! If you want a pdf version of this article to provide for your students to use as a weekly reading on in-class discussion prompt for seminars, just drop me an email in the Contact form and I’ll get one sent out to you.

When I’ve taught this seminar, I’ve put my students into groups, cut these definitions into strips, and handed them out to the groups. Then I get them to try to come up with hypotheses that fit into each ‘type’. You can either just rotate hypothesis types so they get a chance at creating a hypothesis of each type, or get them to “teach” their hypothesis type and examples to the class at the end of the seminar.

Cheers, Chris

Leave a Comment Cancel Reply

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

what is a hypothesis also known as


Three Famous Hypotheses and How They Were Tested

  • Share Content on Facebook
  • Share Content on LinkedIn
  • Share Content on Flipboard
  • Share Content on Reddit
  • Share Content via Email

Art Hasler

Key Takeaways

  • Ivan Pavlov's experiment demonstrated conditioned responses in dogs.
  • Pavlov's work exemplifies the scientific method, starting with a hypothesis about conditioned responses and testing it through controlled experiments.
  • Pavlov's findings not only advanced an understanding of animal physiology but also laid foundational principles for behaviorism, a major school of thought in psychology that emphasizes the study of observable behaviors.

Coho salmon ( Oncorhynchus kisutch ) are amazing fish. Indigenous to the Pacific Northwest, they begin their lives in freshwater streams and then relocate to the open ocean. But when a Coho salmon reaches breeding age, it'll return to the waterway of its birth , sometimes traveling 400 miles (644 kilometers) to get there.

Enter the late Arthur Davis Hasler. While an ecologist and biologist at the University of Wisconsin, he was intrigued by the question of how these creatures find their home streams. And in 1960, he used a Hypothesis-Presentation.pdf">basic tenet of science — the hypothesis — to find out.

So what is a hypothesis? A hypothesis is a tentative, testable explanation for an observed phenomenon in nature. Hypotheses are narrow in scope — unlike theories , which cover a broad range of observable phenomena and draw from many different lines of evidence. Meanwhile, a prediction is a result you'd expect to get if your hypothesis or theory is accurate.

So back to 1960 and Hasler and those salmon. One unverified idea was that Coho salmon used eyesight to locate their home streams. Hasler set out to test this notion (or hypothesis). First, he rounded up several fish who'd already returned to their native streams. Next, he blindfolded some of the captives — but not all of them — before dumping his salmon into a faraway stretch of water. If the eyesight hypothesis was correct, then Hasler could expect fewer of the blindfolded fish to return to their home streams.

Things didn't work out that way. The fish without blindfolds came back at the same rate as their blindfolded counterparts. (Other experiments demonstrated that smell, and not sight, is the key to the species' homing ability.)

Although Hasler's blindfold hypothesis was disproven, others have fared better. Today, we're looking at three of the best-known experiments in history — and the hypotheses they tested.

Ivan Pavlov and His Dogs (1903-1935)

Isaac newton's radiant prisms (1665), robert paine's revealing starfish (1963-1969).

The Hypothesis : If dogs are susceptible to conditioned responses (drooling), then a dog who is regularly exposed to the same neutral stimulus (metronome/bell) before it receives food will associate this neutral stimulus with the act of eating. Eventually, the dog should begin to drool at a predictable rate when it encounters said stimulus — even before any actual food is offered.

The Experiment : A Nobel Prize-winner and outspoken critic of Soviet communism, Ivan Pavlov is synonymous with man's best friend . In 1903, the Russian-born scientist kicked off a decades-long series of experiments involving dogs and conditioned responses .

Offer a plate of food to a hungry dog and it'll salivate. In this context, the stimulus (the food) will automatically trigger a particular response (the drooling). The latter is an innate, unlearned reaction to the former.

By contrast, the rhythmic sound of a metronome or bell is a neutral stimulus. To a dog, the noise has no inherent meaning and if the animal has never heard it before, the sound won't provoke an instinctive reaction. But the sight of food sure will .

So when Pavlov and his lab assistants played the sound of the metronome/bell before feeding sessions, the researchers conditioned test dogs to mentally link metronomes/bells with mealtime. Due to repeated exposure, the noise alone started to make the dogs' mouths water before they were given food.

According to " Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science " by biographer Daniel P. Todes, Pavlov's big innovation here was his discovery that he could quantify the reaction of each pooch by measuring the amount of saliva it generated. Every canine predictably drooled at its own consistent rate when he or she encountered a personalized (and artificial) food-related cue.

Pavlov and his assistants used conditioned responses to look at other hypotheses about animal physiology, as well. In one notable experiment, a dog was tested on its ability to tell time . This particular pooch always received food when it heard a metronome click at the rate of 60 strokes per minute. But it never got any food after listening to a slower, 40-strokes-per-minute beat. Lo and behold, Pavlov's animal began to salivate in response to the faster rhythm — but not the slower one . So clearly, it could tell the two rhythmic beats apart.

The Verdict : With the right conditioning — and lots of patience — you can make a hungry dog respond to neutral stimuli by salivating on cue in a way that's both predictable and scientifically quantifiable.

Pavlov's dog

The Hypothesis : If white sunlight is a mixture of all the colors in the visible spectrum — and these travel at varying wavelengths — then each color will refract at a different angle when a beam of sunlight passes through a glass prism.

The Experiments : Color was a scientific mystery before Isaac Newton came along. During the summer of 1665, he started experimenting with glass prisms from the safety of a darkened room in Cambridge, England.

He cut a quarter-inch (0.63-centimeter) circular hole into one of the window shutters, allowing a single beam of sunlight to enter the place. When Newton held up a prism to this ray, an oblong patch of multicolored light was projected onto the opposite wall.

This contained segregated layers of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet light. From top to bottom, this patch measured 13.5 inches (33.65 centimeters) tall, yet it was only 2.6 inches (6.6 centimeters) across.

Newton deduced that these vibrant colors had been hiding within the sunlight itself, but the prism bent (or "refracted") them at different angles, which separated the colors out.

Still, he wasn't 100 percent sure. So Newton replicated the experiment with one small change. This time, he took a second prism and had it intercept the rainbow-like patch of light. Once the refracted colors entered the new prism, they recombined into a circular white sunbeam. In other words, Newton took a ray of white light, broke it apart into a bunch of different colors and then reassembled it. What a neat party trick!

The Verdict : Sunlight really is a blend of all the colors in the rainbow — and yes, these can be individually separated via light refraction.

Isaac Newton

The Hypothesis : If predators limit the populations of the organisms they attack, then we'd expect the prey species to become more common after the eradication of a major predator.

The Experiment : Meet Pisaster ochraceus , also known as the purple sea star (or the purple starfish if you prefer).

Using an extendable stomach , the creature feeds on mussels, limpets, barnacles, snails and other hapless victims. On some seaside rocks (and tidal pools) along the coast of Washington state, this starfish is the apex predator.

The animal made Robert Paine a scientific celebrity. An ecologist by trade, Paine was fascinated by the environmental roles of top predators. In June 1963, he kicked off an ambitious experiment along Washington state's Mukkaw Bay. For years on end, Paine kept a rocky section of this shoreline completely starfish-free.

It was hard work. Paine had to regularly pry wayward sea stars off "his" outcrop — sometimes with a crowbar. Then he'd chuck them into the ocean.

Before the experiment, Paine observed 15 different species of animals and algae inhabiting the area he decided to test. By June 1964 — one year after his starfish purge started — that number had dropped to eight .

Unchecked by purple sea stars, the barnacle population skyrocketed. Subsequently, these were replaced by California mussels , which came to dominate the terrain. By anchoring themselves to rocks in great numbers, the mussels edged out other life-forms. That made the outcrop uninhabitable to most former residents: Even sponges, anemones and algae — organisms that Pisaster ochraceus doesn't eat — were largely evicted.

All those species continued to thrive on another piece of shoreline that Paine left untouched. Later experiments convinced him that Pisaster ochraceus is a " keystone species ," a creature who exerts disproportionate influence over its environment. Eliminate the keystone and the whole system gets disheveled.

The Verdict : Apex predators don't just affect the animals that they hunt. Removing a top predator sets off a chain reaction that can fundamentally transform an entire ecosystem.

purple sea stars

Contrary to popular belief, Pavlov almost never used bells in his dog experiments. Instead, he preferred metronomes, buzzers, harmoniums and electric shocks.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can a hypothesis become a theory, what's the difference between a hypothesis and a prediction.

Please copy/paste the following text to properly cite this HowStuffWorks.com article:

The Behavioral Scientist

Search site

What is sapir-whorf hypothesis in behavioral science.

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, also known as the linguistic relativity hypothesis, is a theory in linguistics and cognitive science that posits that the structure of a language influences the way its speakers perceive and think about the world. This hypothesis is named after its proponents, American linguists Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf, who independently formulated and expanded upon the idea in the early 20th century.

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is commonly divided into two versions:

  • Strong version (linguistic determinism): This version asserts that language determines thought, meaning that the way people think is entirely shaped by their language. According to this perspective, speakers of different languages perceive and conceptualize the world in fundamentally different ways due to the unique structures and vocabulary of their languages.
  • Weak version (linguistic relativity): This version proposes that language influences, but does not determine, thought. It suggests that while the structure of a language can affect the way its speakers perceive and think about the world, other cognitive factors and experiences also play a significant role in shaping their thoughts and perceptions.

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis has generated extensive debate and research, with empirical evidence supporting both its strong and weak versions to varying degrees. Some studies have demonstrated that language can indeed influence cognitive processes such as color perception, spatial reasoning, and time perception. However, other research has challenged the hypothesis, arguing that universal cognitive processes exist independently of language.

Despite the ongoing debate, the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis has contributed to our understanding of the relationship between language, culture, and cognition. Its implications extend across various disciplines, including anthropology, psychology, sociology, and education, by informing the development of:

  • Cross-cultural communication: Recognizing the influence of language on thought can help improve communication and understanding between speakers of different languages and cultural backgrounds.
  • Language teaching and learning: The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis highlights the importance of considering cultural and cognitive factors in language education, as language learning involves not only acquiring new vocabulary and grammar but also adapting to new ways of thinking and perceiving the world.
  • Cognitive development research: Investigating the relationship between language and thought can provide insights into cognitive development and the role of linguistic factors in shaping cognitive abilities.

While the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis remains a subject of debate and investigation, it has significantly impacted our understanding of the complex interplay between language, thought, and culture.

Related Behavioral Science Terms

Belief perseverance, crystallized intelligence, extraneous variable, representative sample, factor analysis, egocentrism, stimulus generalization, reciprocal determinism, divergent thinking, convergent thinking, social environment, decision making, related articles.

Default Nudges: Fake Behavior Change

Default Nudges: Fake Behavior Change

​Here's Why the Loop is Stupid

Here’s Why the Loop is Stupid

How behavioral science can be used to build the perfect brand

How behavioral science can be used to build the perfect brand

The death of behavioral economics

The Death Of Behavioral Economics

Sapir–Whorf hypothesis (Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis)

Mia Belle Frothingham

Author, Researcher, Science Communicator

BA with minors in Psychology and Biology, MRes University of Edinburgh

Mia Belle Frothingham is a Harvard University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Sciences with minors in biology and psychology

Learn about our Editorial Process

Saul Mcleod, PhD

Editor-in-Chief for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

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

Olivia Guy-Evans, MSc

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

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

On This Page:

There are about seven thousand languages heard around the world – they all have different sounds, vocabularies, and structures. As you know, language plays a significant role in our lives.

But one intriguing question is – can it actually affect how we think?

Collection of talking people. Men and women with speech bubbles. Communication and interaction. Friends, students or colleagues. Cartoon flat vector illustrations isolated on white background

It is widely thought that reality and how one perceives the world is expressed in spoken words and are precisely the same as reality.

That is, perception and expression are understood to be synonymous, and it is assumed that speech is based on thoughts. This idea believes that what one says depends on how the world is encoded and decoded in the mind.

However, many believe the opposite.

In that, what one perceives is dependent on the spoken word. Basically, that thought depends on language, not the other way around.

What Is The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis?

Twentieth-century linguists Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf are known for this very principle and its popularization. Their joint theory, known as the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis or, more commonly, the Theory of Linguistic Relativity, holds great significance in all scopes of communication theories.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis states that the grammatical and verbal structure of a person’s language influences how they perceive the world. It emphasizes that language either determines or influences one’s thoughts.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis states that people experience the world based on the structure of their language, and that linguistic categories shape and limit cognitive processes. It proposes that differences in language affect thought, perception, and behavior, so speakers of different languages think and act differently.

For example, different words mean various things in other languages. Not every word in all languages has an exact one-to-one translation in a foreign language.

Because of these small but crucial differences, using the wrong word within a particular language can have significant consequences.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is sometimes called “linguistic relativity” or the “principle of linguistic relativity.” So while they have slightly different names, they refer to the same basic proposal about the relationship between language and thought.

How Language Influences Culture

Culture is defined by the values, norms, and beliefs of a society. Our culture can be considered a lens through which we undergo the world and develop a shared meaning of what occurs around us.

The language that we create and use is in response to the cultural and societal needs that arose. In other words, there is an apparent relationship between how we talk and how we perceive the world.

One crucial question that many intellectuals have asked is how our society’s language influences its culture.

Linguist and anthropologist Edward Sapir and his then-student Benjamin Whorf were interested in answering this question.

Together, they created the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which states that our thought processes predominantly determine how we look at the world.

Our language restricts our thought processes – our language shapes our reality. Simply, the language that we use shapes the way we think and how we see the world.

Since the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis theorizes that our language use shapes our perspective of the world, people who speak different languages have different views of the world.

In the 1920s, Benjamin Whorf was a Yale University graduate student studying with linguist Edward Sapir, who was considered the father of American linguistic anthropology.

Sapir was responsible for documenting and recording the cultures and languages of many Native American tribes disappearing at an alarming rate. He and his predecessors were well aware of the close relationship between language and culture.

Anthropologists like Sapir need to learn the language of the culture they are studying to understand the worldview of its speakers truly. Whorf believed that the opposite is also true, that language affects culture by influencing how its speakers think.

His hypothesis proposed that the words and structures of a language influence how its speaker behaves and feels about the world and, ultimately, the culture itself.

Simply put, Whorf believed that you see the world differently from another person who speaks another language due to the specific language you speak.

Human beings do not live in the matter-of-fact world alone, nor solitary in the world of social action as traditionally understood, but are very much at the pardon of the certain language which has become the medium of communication and expression for their society.

To a large extent, the real world is unconsciously built on habits in regard to the language of the group. We hear and see and otherwise experience broadly as we do because the language habits of our community predispose choices of interpretation.

Studies & Examples

The lexicon, or vocabulary, is the inventory of the articles a culture speaks about and has classified to understand the world around them and deal with it effectively.

For example, our modern life is dictated for many by the need to travel by some vehicle – cars, buses, trucks, SUVs, trains, etc. We, therefore, have thousands of words to talk about and mention, including types of models, vehicles, parts, or brands.

The most influential aspects of each culture are similarly reflected in the dictionary of its language. Among the societies living on the islands in the Pacific, fish have significant economic and cultural importance.

Therefore, this is reflected in the rich vocabulary that describes all aspects of the fish and the environments that islanders depend on for survival.

For example, there are over 1,000 fish species in Palau, and Palauan fishers knew, even long before biologists existed, details about the anatomy, behavior, growth patterns, and habitat of most of them – far more than modern biologists know today.

Whorf’s studies at Yale involved working with many Native American languages, including Hopi. He discovered that the Hopi language is quite different from English in many ways, especially regarding time.

Western cultures and languages view times as a flowing river that carries us continuously through the present, away from the past, and to the future.

Our grammar and system of verbs reflect this concept with particular tenses for past, present, and future.

We perceive this concept of time as universal in that all humans see it in the same way.

Although a speaker of Hopi has very different ideas, their language’s structure both reflects and shapes the way they think about time. Seemingly, the Hopi language has no present, past, or future tense; instead, they divide the world into manifested and unmanifest domains.

The manifested domain consists of the physical universe, including the present, the immediate past, and the future; the unmanifest domain consists of the remote past and the future and the world of dreams, thoughts, desires, and life forces.

Also, there are no words for minutes, minutes, or days of the week. Native Hopi speakers often had great difficulty adapting to life in the English-speaking world when it came to being on time for their job or other affairs.

It is due to the simple fact that this was not how they had been conditioned to behave concerning time in their Hopi world, which followed the phases of the moon and the movements of the sun.

Today, it is widely believed that some aspects of perception are affected by language.

One big problem with the original Sapir-Whorf hypothesis derives from the idea that if a person’s language has no word for a specific concept, then that person would not understand that concept.

Honestly, the idea that a mother tongue can restrict one’s understanding has been largely unaccepted. For example, in German, there is a term that means to take pleasure in another person’s unhappiness.

While there is no translatable equivalent in English, it just would not be accurate to say that English speakers have never experienced or would not be able to comprehend this emotion.

Just because there is no word for this in the English language does not mean English speakers are less equipped to feel or experience the meaning of the word.

Not to mention a “chicken and egg” problem with the theory.

Of course, languages are human creations, very much tools we invented and honed to suit our needs. Merely showing that speakers of diverse languages think differently does not tell us whether it is the language that shapes belief or the other way around.

Supporting Evidence

On the other hand, there is hard evidence that the language-associated habits we acquire play a role in how we view the world. And indeed, this is especially true for languages that attach genders to inanimate objects.

There was a study done that looked at how German and Spanish speakers view different things based on their given gender association in each respective language.

The results demonstrated that in describing things that are referred to as masculine in Spanish, speakers of the language marked them as having more male characteristics like “strong” and “long.” Similarly, these same items, which use feminine phrasings in German, were noted by German speakers as effeminate, like “beautiful” and “elegant.”

The findings imply that speakers of each language have developed preconceived notions of something being feminine or masculine, not due to the objects” characteristics or appearances but because of how they are categorized in their native language.

It is important to remember that the Theory of Linguistic Relativity (Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis) also successfully achieves openness. The theory is shown as a window where we view the cognitive process, not as an absolute.

It is set forth to look at a phenomenon differently than one usually would. Furthermore, the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is very simple and logically sound. Understandably, one’s atmosphere and culture will affect decoding.

Likewise, in studies done by the authors of the theory, many Native American tribes do not have a word for particular things because they do not exist in their lives. The logical simplism of this idea of relativism provides parsimony.

Truly, the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis makes sense. It can be utilized in describing great numerous misunderstandings in everyday life. When a Pennsylvanian says “yuns,” it does not make any sense to a Californian, but when examined, it is just another word for “you all.”

The Linguistic Relativity Theory addresses this and suggests that it is all relative. This concept of relativity passes outside dialect boundaries and delves into the world of language – from different countries and, consequently, from mind to mind.

Is language reality honestly because of thought, or is it thought which occurs because of language? The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis very transparently presents a view of reality being expressed in language and thus forming in thought.

The principles rehashed in it show a reasonable and even simple idea of how one perceives the world, but the question is still arguable: thought then language or language then thought?

Modern Relevance

Regardless of its age, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, or the Linguistic Relativity Theory, has continued to force itself into linguistic conversations, even including pop culture.

The idea was just recently revisited in the movie “Arrival,” – a science fiction film that engagingly explores the ways in which an alien language can affect and alter human thinking.

And even if some of the most drastic claims of the theory have been debunked or argued against, the idea has continued its relevance, and that does say something about its importance.

Hypotheses, thoughts, and intellectual musings do not need to be totally accurate to remain in the public eye as long as they make us think and question the world – and the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis does precisely that.

The theory does not only make us question linguistic theory and our own language but also our very existence and how our perceptions might shape what exists in this world.

There are generalities that we can expect every person to encounter in their day-to-day life – in relationships, love, work, sadness, and so on. But thinking about the more granular disparities experienced by those in diverse circumstances, linguistic or otherwise, helps us realize that there is more to the story than ours.

And beautifully, at the same time, the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis reiterates the fact that we are more alike than we are different, regardless of the language we speak.

Isn’t it just amazing that linguistic diversity just reveals to us how ingenious and flexible the human mind is – human minds have invented not one cognitive universe but, indeed, seven thousand!

Kay, P., & Kempton, W. (1984). What is the Sapir‐Whorf hypothesis?. American anthropologist, 86(1), 65-79.

Whorf, B. L. (1952). Language, mind, and reality. ETC: A review of general semantics, 167-188.

Whorf, B. L. (1997). The relation of habitual thought and behavior to language. In Sociolinguistics (pp. 443-463). Palgrave, London.

Whorf, B. L. (2012). Language, thought, and reality: Selected writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. MIT press.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis: How Language Influences How We Express Ourselves

Rachael is a New York-based writer and freelance writer for Verywell Mind, where she leverages her decades of personal experience with and research on mental illness—particularly ADHD and depression—to help readers better understand how their mind works and how to manage their mental health.

what is a hypothesis also known as

Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

What to Know About the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

Real-world examples of linguistic relativity, linguistic relativity in psychology.

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, also known as linguistic relativity, refers to the idea that the language a person speaks can influence their worldview, thought, and even how they experience and understand the world.

While more extreme versions of the hypothesis have largely been discredited, a growing body of research has demonstrated that language can meaningfully shape how we understand the world around us and even ourselves.

Keep reading to learn more about linguistic relativity, including some real-world examples of how it shapes thoughts, emotions, and behavior.  

The hypothesis is named after anthropologist and linguist Edward Sapir and his student, Benjamin Lee Whorf. While the hypothesis is named after them both, the two never actually formally co-authored a coherent hypothesis together.

This Hypothesis Aims to Figure Out How Language and Culture Are Connected

Sapir was interested in charting the difference in language and cultural worldviews, including how language and culture influence each other. Whorf took this work on how language and culture shape each other a step further to explore how different languages might shape thought and behavior.

Since then, the concept has evolved into multiple variations, some more credible than others.

Linguistic Determinism Is an Extreme Version of the Hypothesis

Linguistic determinism, for example, is a more extreme version suggesting that a person’s perception and thought are limited to the language they speak. An early example of linguistic determinism comes from Whorf himself who argued that the Hopi people in Arizona don’t conjugate verbs into past, present, and future tenses as English speakers do and that their words for units of time (like “day” or “hour”) were verbs rather than nouns.

From this, he concluded that the Hopi don’t view time as a physical object that can be counted out in minutes and hours the way English speakers do. Instead, Whorf argued, the Hopi view time as a formless process.

This was then taken by others to mean that the Hopi don’t have any concept of time—an extreme view that has since been repeatedly disproven.

There is some evidence for a more nuanced version of linguistic relativity, which suggests that the structure and vocabulary of the language you speak can influence how you understand the world around you. To understand this better, it helps to look at real-world examples of the effects language can have on thought and behavior.

Different Languages Express Colors Differently

Color is one of the most common examples of linguistic relativity. Most known languages have somewhere between two and twelve color terms, and the way colors are categorized varies widely. In English, for example, there are distinct categories for blue and green .

Blue and Green

But in Korean, there is one word that encompasses both. This doesn’t mean Korean speakers can’t see blue, it just means blue is understood as a variant of green rather than a distinct color category all its own.

In Russian, meanwhile, the colors that English speakers would lump under the umbrella term of “blue” are further subdivided into two distinct color categories, “siniy” and “goluboy.” They roughly correspond to light blue and dark blue in English. But to Russian speakers, they are as distinct as orange and brown .

In one study comparing English and Russian speakers, participants were shown a color square and then asked to choose which of the two color squares below it was the closest in shade to the first square.

The test specifically focused on varying shades of blue ranging from “siniy” to “goluboy.” Russian speakers were not only faster at selecting the matching color square but were more accurate in their selections.

The Way Location Is Expressed Varies Across Languages

This same variation occurs in other areas of language. For example, in Guugu Ymithirr, a language spoken by Aboriginal Australians, spatial orientation is always described in absolute terms of cardinal directions. While an English speaker would say the laptop is “in front of” you, a Guugu Ymithirr speaker would say it was north, south, west, or east of you.

As a result, Aboriginal Australians have to be constantly attuned to cardinal directions because their language requires it (just as Russian speakers develop a more instinctive ability to discern between shades of what English speakers call blue because their language requires it).

So when you ask a Guugu Ymithirr speaker to tell you which way south is, they can point in the right direction without a moment’s hesitation. Meanwhile, most English speakers would struggle to accurately identify South without the help of a compass or taking a moment to recall grade school lessons about how to find it.

The concept of these cardinal directions exists in English, but English speakers aren’t required to think about or use them on a daily basis so it’s not as intuitive or ingrained in how they orient themselves in space.

Just as with other aspects of thought and perception, the vocabulary and grammatical structure we have for thinking about or talking about what we feel doesn’t create our feelings, but it does shape how we understand them and, to an extent, how we experience them.

Words Help Us Put a Name to Our Emotions

For example, the ability to detect displeasure from a person’s face is universal. But in a language that has the words “angry” and “sad,” you can further distinguish what kind of displeasure you observe in their facial expression. This doesn’t mean humans never experienced anger or sadness before words for them emerged. But they may have struggled to understand or explain the subtle differences between different dimensions of displeasure.

In one study of English speakers, toddlers were shown a picture of a person with an angry facial expression. Then, they were given a set of pictures of people displaying different expressions including happy, sad, surprised, scared, disgusted, or angry. Researchers asked them to put all the pictures that matched the first angry face picture into a box.

The two-year-olds in the experiment tended to place all faces except happy faces into the box. But four-year-olds were more selective, often leaving out sad or fearful faces as well as happy faces. This suggests that as our vocabulary for talking about emotions expands, so does our ability to understand and distinguish those emotions.

But some research suggests the influence is not limited to just developing a wider vocabulary for categorizing emotions. Language may “also help constitute emotion by cohering sensations into specific perceptions of ‘anger,’ ‘disgust,’ ‘fear,’ etc.,” said Dr. Harold Hong, a board-certified psychiatrist at New Waters Recovery in North Carolina.

As our vocabulary for talking about emotions expands, so does our ability to understand and distinguish those emotions.

Words for emotions, like words for colors, are an attempt to categorize a spectrum of sensations into a handful of distinct categories. And, like color, there’s no objective or hard rule on where the boundaries between emotions should be which can lead to variation across languages in how emotions are categorized.

Emotions Are Categorized Differently in Different Languages

Just as different languages categorize color a little differently, researchers have also found differences in how emotions are categorized. In German, for example, there’s an emotion called “gemütlichkeit.”

While it’s usually translated as “cozy” or “ friendly ” in English, there really isn’t a direct translation. It refers to a particular kind of peace and sense of belonging that a person feels when surrounded by the people they love or feel connected to in a place they feel comfortable and free to be who they are.

Harold Hong, MD, Psychiatrist

The lack of a word for an emotion in a language does not mean that its speakers don't experience that emotion.

You may have felt gemütlichkeit when staying up with your friends to joke and play games at a sleepover. You may feel it when you visit home for the holidays and spend your time eating, laughing, and reminiscing with your family in the house you grew up in.

In Japanese, the word “amae” is just as difficult to translate into English. Usually, it’s translated as "spoiled child" or "presumed indulgence," as in making a request and assuming it will be indulged. But both of those have strong negative connotations in English and amae is a positive emotion .

Instead of being spoiled or coddled, it’s referring to that particular kind of trust and assurance that comes with being nurtured by someone and knowing that you can ask for what you want without worrying whether the other person might feel resentful or burdened by your request.

You might have felt amae when your car broke down and you immediately called your mom to pick you up, without having to worry for even a second whether or not she would drop everything to help you.

Regardless of which languages you speak, though, you’re capable of feeling both of these emotions. “The lack of a word for an emotion in a language does not mean that its speakers don't experience that emotion,” Dr. Hong explained.

What This Means For You

“While having the words to describe emotions can help us better understand and regulate them, it is possible to experience and express those emotions without specific labels for them.” Without the words for these feelings, you can still feel them but you just might not be able to identify them as readily or clearly as someone who does have those words. 

Rhee S. Lexicalization patterns in color naming in Korean . In: Raffaelli I, Katunar D, Kerovec B, eds. Studies in Functional and Structural Linguistics. Vol 78. John Benjamins Publishing Company; 2019:109-128. Doi:10.1075/sfsl.78.06rhe

Winawer J, Witthoft N, Frank MC, Wu L, Wade AR, Boroditsky L. Russian blues reveal effects of language on color discrimination . Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2007;104(19):7780-7785.  10.1073/pnas.0701644104

Lindquist KA, MacCormack JK, Shablack H. The role of language in emotion: predictions from psychological constructionism . Front Psychol. 2015;6. Doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00444

By Rachael Green Rachael is a New York-based writer and freelance writer for Verywell Mind, where she leverages her decades of personal experience with and research on mental illness—particularly ADHD and depression—to help readers better understand how their mind works and how to manage their mental health.

Empirical studies of the “similarity leads to attraction” hypothesis in workplace interactions: a systematic review

  • Open access
  • Published: 16 January 2023

Cite this article

You have full access to this open access article

  • Zoleikha Abbasi   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-8803-2239 1 ,
  • Jon Billsberry   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-3015-4196 1 &
  • Mathew Todres   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-6496-7809 1  

5951 Accesses

2 Citations

Explore all metrics

Although the similarity-attraction hypothesis (SAH) is one of the main theoretical foundations of management and industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology research, systematic reviews of the hypothesis have not been published. An overall review of the existing body of knowledge is therefore warranted as a means of identifying what is known about the hypothesis and also identifying what future studies should investigate. The current study focuses on empirical workplace SAH studies. This systematic review surfaced and analyzed 49 studies located in 45 papers. The results demonstrate that SAH is valid in organizational settings and it is a fundamental force driving employees’ behavior. However, the force is not so strong that it cannot be overridden or moderated by other forces, which includes forces from psychological, organizational, and legal domains. This systematic review highlights a number of methodological issues in tests of SAH relating to the low number of longitudinal studies, which is important given the predictive nature of the hypotheses, and the varying conceptualizations of attraction measurement.

Similar content being viewed by others

what is a hypothesis also known as

Reactions towards organizational change: a systematic literature review

Khai Wah Khaw, Alhamzah Alnoor, … Nadia A. Atshan

what is a hypothesis also known as

The four-day work week: a chronological, systematic review of the academic literature

Timothy T. Campbell

what is a hypothesis also known as

Research Methodology: An Introduction

Avoid common mistakes on your manuscript.

1 Introduction

Individuals are positively inclined towards people who are similar to themselves. This simple but striking assertion underpins the similarity-attraction hypothesis (SAH), which frames much relationship and interpersonal attraction research (e.g., Byrne 1971 ; Montoya and Horton 2013 ). According to Byrne ( 1971 ), when people perceive themselves to be similar to other people, they experience positive feelings of attraction towards them. These similarities cover a large number of factors typically separated into demographic (e.g., race, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, and age) and psychological (e.g., personality, values, interests, religion, education, and occupation) divisions. Many studies have shown that similarities in these various forms lead to friendships and other close relationships (e.g., Graziano and Bruce 2008 ; Kleinbaum et al. 2013 ; McPherson et al. 2001 ; Riordan 2000 ).

In work settings, SAH is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it is a fundamental human drive that underpins effective social interaction in workplaces (e.g., McPherson et al. 2001 ; Montoya and Horton 2012 ), but on the other hand, it can lead to affinity or similarity bias and exclude those unlike the people making decisions (e.g., Björklund et al. 2012 ; Coates and Carr 2005 ; Hambrick 2007 ; O’Reilly et al. 2014 ; Sacco et al. 2003 ). To combat such ‘natural’ biases, most countries have passed laws to protect employees and potential employees who are dissimilar to those currently employed by organizations and who wield considerable power to decide who can enter organizations, who gets promoted, and how people are treated at work. Hence, within organizational settings, there is an eternal conflict at the heart of this field study; a conflict between natural human processes and natural justice.

In the mid 1990s, two reviews of work-related SAH appeared. An unpublished paper by Alliger et al. ( 1993 ) reviewed SAH in the context of personnel selection decision and work relations. Pierce et al. ( 1996 ) reviewed the hypothesis through the lens of romance in the workplace. There do not appear to be any more recent reviews and no broad-sweep reviews of SAH in the workplace. This paper makes a contribution by conducting such a study with the goal of reviewing extant knowledge on SAH in the workplace. Prior to a detailed account of the methods used for our systematic review, we first contextualize the current study by discussing relevant concepts and their evolution over time, namely the SAH and attraction, respectively. In our findings section, we review the cluster of studies providing empirical support for SAH, draw attention to measurement-design issues, and look at the study of SAH during the distinct organizational phases of recruitment and selection, employment, and organizational exit. In the discussion, we further the contribution of the paper with an examination of the paradox of similarity effects in an age when diversity and inclusion are prime considerations for organizations. We also draw out methodological challenges in the extant SAH in the workplace literature.

2 Similarity-attraction hypothesis

Although scientific focus on SAH gathered steam in the 1950s and 1960s (e.g., Byrne 1961 ; Festinger et al. 1950 ; Newcomb 1961 ; Walster et al. 1966 ), it has been studied for much longer. The relation between similarity and interpersonal attraction was mentioned as early as 1870 by Sir Francis Galton, who observed that illustrious men married illustrious women. Terman ( 1938 ) demonstrated that the greater the similarity between husband and wife, the more successful the marriage.

In the 1950s and 1960s, SAH studies focused on the interpersonal space and the role of attribution in attraction. In one of the first examples, Newcomb ( 1961 ) analyzed the establishment of friendships between new students at a college residence. He recorded students’ demographic information, attitudes, values, and beliefs and then measured their interpersonal attraction to each other. He showed that similarity between the students was the main predictor of attraction amongst them. Taking an experimental approach, Byrne and his colleagues used a “bogus stranger” methodology, in which they varied the similarity of a perceiver’s attitudes to those of a stranger, and then quantified the liking of that stranger. In a series of studies (e.g., Byrne 1971 , 1997 ; Byrne and Blaylock 1963 ; Byrne and Clore 1967 ; Byrne and Nelson 1965 ), they demonstrated that attitude similarity delivered more liking of the target.

Byrne and Clore ( 1967 ) presented a reinforcement model to explain the positive relationship between similarity and attraction, in which similarity presents social validation of one’s views of the self and the world, thus helping to satisfy an individual’s needs. The positive influence that is caused by this need fulfillment becomes correlated with its source, namely the similar individual, and leads to their liking. As an alternative, dissimilarity jeopardizes epistemic needs (i.e., the desire for establishing understanding) as it challenges one’s views about the self and the world, and therefore stimulates negative affect that, in turn, becomes linked with the dissimilar person. Consequently, according to Byrne and Clore ( 1967 ), personal attraction is a conditioned reaction to the positive or negative effect that is created by an unconditioned similarity motivation.

While cognition was recognized as an essential aspect of shaping a judgment of another, the data indicated that the more attitudes individuals held in common with each other, the more attracted they were to the other person (Byrne 1971 , 1997 ). This explains why people are attracted to like-minded individuals. Motivation to find others who are similar may have something to do with keeping a person’s perspective coherent with what they already know; people struggle for guaranteed certainty in dealing with the world around them (Byrne et al. 1966 ). Drawing on Newcomb ( 1956 ), Byrne ( 1997 ) argues that a key reason explaining the repeated support for SAH is due to the interpersonal rewards that follow from attraction: “At its simplest level, […] people like feeling good and dislike feeling bad” (Byrne 1997 : 425). Further, assessments of similarity increase the validation of individuals’ values, which leads to attraction, harmony, and cooperation between individuals (Edwards and Cable 2009 ). Thus, the more similar people perceive themselves to be to each other, the more attractive they will be to each other.

Although most SAH studies have researched similarities in peoples’ attitudes, concluding that individuals are more attracted to people with whom they have many shared attitudes (Byrne 1961 ; Byrne et al. 1970 ; Kaptein et al. 2014 ), studies have found that actual similarity in external characteristics (e.g., age, hairstyle) is more predictive of attraction than similarity in psychological characteristics such as cleverness and confidence (Condon and Crano 1988 ; Duck and Craig 1975 ; Montoya et al. 2008 ). Amongst the demographic attributes most commonly studied are age, education, ethnic background, religious affiliation (Gardiner 2022 ; Grigoryan 2020 ), and occupation (Bond et al. 1968 ; Heine et al. 2009 ; Singh et al. 2008 ). A possible explanation for this is that external abilities can be more easily identified and measured. Nevertheless, there is also support for the SAH from studies of psychological similarity. These studies demonstrate that people are attracted to others on the perceived basis of shared attitudes (Newcomb 1961 ; Tidwell et al. 2013 ), personality traits (Griffitt 1966 ; Klohnen and Luo 2003 ), and values (Cable and DeRue 2002 ).

In addition to studies measuring the impact of actual similarity, scholars have also looked at the impact of perceived similarity. Many of these studies show that perceived similarities are better predictors of attraction than real similarities (Condon and Crano 1988 ; Montoya et al. 2008 ), but the impact of actual similarity–attraction is mainly restricted to interactions with associates or impressions of “bogus strangers” in laboratory settings (Sunnafrank 1992 ). Montoya et al. ( 2008 ) found a significant impact of actual similarity on attraction, while the strength of the attraction is highly connected to the interaction of the participants and targets (e.g., romantic partner, confederate, bogus stranger); these findings are typically interpreted to mean that demographic similarity information is a single source of information and that over time other information becomes more important than similarity-derived information.

The positive association of similarity to attraction can be explained by social cognition theory (Bandura 1991 ). According to this theory, people make sense of the world around them by gathering information in suitable cognitive classes or conceptual memory bins. This theory highlights how the role played by the categories of schemas, prototypes, and stereotypes biases decision-making reducing the accuracy and objectiveness of judgments (Fiske and Taylor 2008 ). For example, when people perceive someone who has grown up in the same neighborhood as themselves (same sport and school), it results in approval of them as they match a well-formed and well-understood stereotype in the person’s mind. The same person might be much less comfortable with someone from a different racial group or who comes from a completely different area since the appropriate cognitive ‘bin’ is still very immature and might even be distorted due to a few random encounters with similar stimuli. According to social cognition theory, people judge others not based on individual qualities, but rather on the stereotype held regarding that individual’s group membership (Kulik and Bainbridge 2006 ). Self-categorization theory builds on social cognition theory. It says that people assign people to ingroup and outgroup membership of prototypes. People are not thought of as unique individuals but rather as expressions of the relevant prototype, which is a process of depersonalization. Self-categorization theory suggests people classify their membership internally for themselves and others based on socially defined qualities (Turner and Chelladurai 2005 ). Individuals identify themselves and others into in-group and out-group (Hogg and Terry 2000 ) according to their preconceived notions of fit based on the following amongst other things: gender, age, race, organizational membership, and status (Turner and Chelladurai 2005 ).

3 Attraction

One of the vaguer elements in SAH is the definition of the word “attraction’. In the 1500s, the word ‘attraction’ was a medical phrase referring to the body’s tendency to absorb fluids or nourishment (Oxford English Dictionary 2013). Over time, the meaning of this word changed to the ability for an object to draw an object to itself, and then to the capability of a person to draw another person to him or her (Montoya and Horton 2014 ). Although there are a few studies that explore different definitions of the word, there is considerable variation in how it is conceptualized in SAH studies. Some studies emphasize the behavioral dimension (i.e., “drawing one to another,” Schachter 1959 ), other scholars highlight the emotion and affection (i.e., feeling positive towards another; e.g., Zajonc 1968 ), while others stress cognitive aspects (i.e., inferring positive attributes; e.g., Singh et al. 2007 ). Despite the variety, these all have positive connotations (Berscheid 1985 ; Huston and Levinger 1978 ). More recently, the literature has focused on the definition of attraction as an attitude, but limited the definition to an individual’s direct and positive emotional and/or behavioral response to a specific person (Montoya and Horton 2014 ). In this approach, the definition of attraction concentrates on the quality of someone’s emotional reaction to another person and a behavioral element that shows an individual’s tendency to act in a specific way to another (i.e., choosing to move closer to them). According to Montoya and Horton ( 2014 : 60), “attraction is a person’s immediate and positive affective and/or behavioral response to a specific individual, a response that is influenced by the person’s cognitive assessments”. According to this point of view, the cognitive component is not considered part of attraction, but rather a process of forecasting an attraction reaction (Montoya et al. 2018 ).

Hence, the attraction literature has evolved different terms to describe the various attraction elements: affective attraction, behavioral attraction, and interpersonal attraction (or liking), Footnote 1 among other terms (Montoya and Horton 2020 ). Montoya et al. ( 2018 ) applied behavioral attraction to refer entirely to a self-reported preference for a certain behavioral reaction by using liking and interpersonal attraction to refer to an undifferentiated positive evaluation that comprises both affective and behavioral attraction. Reinforcing variation in definition of the word ‘attraction’, Montoya and Horton ( 2020 ) define attraction as an emotion that ranges from the professional, to the romantic, to the familial, meaning that attraction can be operationalized as an emotion in a wide range of settings (Montoya and Horton 2020 ).

4 Methodology

The goal of this study (Kuckertz and Block 2021 ) is to provide an overview of research findings on SAH as they relate to the workplace and, in particular, how they relate to interactions between people at work. To do this, we conducted a systematic review of SAH adopting the PRISMA (i.e., Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses) approach (Caulley et al. 2020 ; O’Dea et al. 2021 ). We conducted a systematic review that looked for both empirical and theoretical papers published in refereed journals with JCR impact factors that investigate SAH. We only included papers written in English. As there had been no previous systematic reviews of SAH, no date limits were set.

4.1 Search methodology

4.1.1 inclusion criteria.

The following search terms were used to identify studies on SAH: ‘similarity-attraction’, ‘similarity attraction’, ‘similarity leads to attraction’, ‘similarity predicts attraction’, ‘similarity-interpersonal attraction’, ‘similarity to attraction’, ‘similarity/attraction’, ‘dissimilarity-repulsion’, ‘dissimilarity leads to repulsion’, ‘dissimilarity/repulsion’, ‘dissimilarity repulsion’, ‘Rosenbaum’s repulsion hypothesis’. Given the specific nature of these search terms, logical operators were used to find at least one of these terms in the titles, subjects, or abstracts of papers. For thoroughness, we included the reverse hypothesis, dissimilarity leads to repulsion (Rosenbaum 1986 ), in our search.

4.1.2 Exclusion criteria

As we employed relatively complex search strings such as ‘similarity-attraction’, exclusion criteria were not needed at the subject level.

4.1.3 Databases searched

The following databases were searched for articles on SAH: PsycInfo and PsycArticles, Web of Science, and Business Search Complete.

4.2 Search results

Table 1 presents the results of the initial trawl of the databases and shows how these 880 articles were filtered. Since the search yielded articles published before the onset of journal rankings and some journals have subsequently merged or ceased publishing, there were papers in the database that would have been excluded because of the evolution of the journal rather than due to their own inherent qualities. To avoid this, we decided to include any paper in a journal without a JCR impact factor that had been published before 2000 and had received 100 or more citations on Google Scholar. This resulted in five additional papers that otherwise would have been excluded from the dataset.

The final stage of filtering was to eliminate papers not located in organizational, business, or management settings in which similarity comparisons were based on staff-staff, staff-team members, staff-leaders, staff-managers, or staff-supervisors. This led to the removal of a further 275 studies and 8 more which were not empirical. 45 studies emerged containing four papers that featured two separate studies. The final database for this systematic review is therefore 45 papers containing 49 separate studies. Figure  1 shows the chronological distribution of the 45 workplace SAH articles in the dataset.

figure 1

Chronology of workplace SAH papers

Descriptive details and brief summaries of the 49 employee SAH studies surfaced in this systematic review are presented in Tables 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 and 8 . They are placed in one of three categories. A total of 22 articles explore demographic similarity (Tables 2 and 3 ), 20 studies in 17 papers study psychological similarity (Tables 4 and 5 ), and seven studies in six papers investigate both psychological and demographic similarity (Tables 6 and 7 ). Demographic similarity involves the comparison of surface-level characteristics, such as gender, age, and race. They are permanent, usually observable, and easily measured (Harrison et al. 1998 ; Jackson et al. 1991 ). Psychological similarity involves deep-level attributes such as values, personality, attitudes, and beliefs (e.g., Engle and Lord 1997 ) and tend to be measured through direct assessment of self-reported perceptions.

5.1 Support for SAH

Just over half of the studies in the dataset yield empirical findings broadly in line with SAH predictions. These breakdown as follows: 11 demographic, 11 psychological, and 4 combined studies. In the demographic studies, similarity in gender, race, age, educational level, political affiliation have all been shown repeatedly to (1) positively associate with trust, job satisfaction, affective commitment, and in-role and extra-role performance, and selection decisions, and (2) negatively associate with staff turnover and related exit outcomes. In the psychological similarity studies, a matching pattern of results can be observed when similarity involves personality, emotional intelligence, and leadership and cognitive style. Such studies demonstrate that the SAH applies as much in organizational settings as it does in other settings. Rather, it is the studies that produce contradictory and asymmetric results that provide a more nuanced understanding of how SAH applies in these settings, particularly in studies of demographic similarity.

For example, Geddes and Konrad ( 2003 ) demonstrated a complex set of results in terms of race and performance feedback. They showed that both white and black employees responded more favorably to performance feedback from white managers demonstrating that SAH interacts with effects from other theories; in this case, status characteristics theory (Ridgeway 1991 ; Ridgeway and Balkwell 1997 ; Webster and Hysom 1998 ). Goldberg ( 2005 ) demonstrated a contrarian finding. Both male and female interviewers favored applicants on the opposite sex, which is better explained by social identity theory (Gaertner and Dovidio 2000 ) than SAH. Chatman and O’Reilly ( 2004 ) demonstrated that women reported a greater likelihood of leaving homogenous groups (i.e., groups comprising members of the same gender) than men, suggesting that other factors are in-play such as status conflict (Carli and Eagly 1999 ; Pugh and Wahrman 1983 ). It seems that SAH may be an underlying and natural driver of human behavior, but it is not such a dominant force in organizational settings that it cannot be moderated or eliminated by alternative forces. Although studies have shown that competing forces can influence the emergence of SAH effects, research is needed to understand the causes, circumstances, and conditions that give rise to this submergence. When and why does the SAH not appear in organizational settings?

5.2 What is attraction?

In these studies, there is considerable variation in the ways that attraction has been defined and conceptualized. Examples of the three different definitions of attraction – affective attraction, behavioral attraction, and interpersonal attraction – could be found in the dataset. Very few of the ways in which attraction has been measured might be regarded as direct measurement of attraction. They may be influenced by attractiveness, but most constructs used as interpretations of attraction in these studies are implicit and (at least) one step away from direct and isolated measures of attractiveness. For example, constructs like affective and normative commitment, perceived trustworthiness of managers, reaction to performance feedback, and organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) may all be associated with feeling closer (affective attraction), moving closer (behavior attraction), or liking, but many other factors are simultaneously in play and at the very least require some explanation as to the reasons why and how they relate to attraction. Even the more direct conceptualizations like organizational attractiveness or selection outcomes are confounded by other factors such as the scant and managed information typically available during recruitment and selection processes (Billsberry 2007a ; Herriot 1989 ) and other factors influencing attractiveness choices, such as the need to find a job (Billsberry 2007b ). Overall, one of the biggest weaknesses in tests of SAH in organizational settings is the way that attractiveness has been conceived. An analysis of attraction conceptualizations can be found in Table 8 .

Another noteworthy feature of the constructs used to capture attraction is the infrequency of repetition. Other than selection outcomes (of various sorts), perceptions of leadership, and OCBs (which have quite a tenuous association with attraction as there are many and varied reasons why people might engage in extra-role activities), most of the other constructs feature in just one study, occasionally two. This creates a sense that the field is still in an exploratory mode scoping out relevant relationships. Replication studies would provide confidence in these original findings and bring robustness. Further, there is a danger that the inclusiveness of constructs to represent attraction risks reifying the term. A challenge with such reification is that “scholars unknowingly integrate findings from studies with inconsistent construct definitions, which can create serious threats to validity” (Lane et al. 2006 : 835). To avoid this, construct clarity is essential and an important precondition of theory testing (Fisher et al. 2021 ).

5.3 Measurement and design issues

Most work on SAH has been conducted outside of organizations. Our initial searches of these databases generated 880 journal articles of which only 45 were empirical studies in which the participants were workers and data was collected from them or about them. At the fringes of eligibility, we included analyses of the gender composition of top management teams (TMTs) and members of unions. We also included policy capturing studies that involve employees undertaking some type of experiment to find out what they would do in circumstances relevant to their jobs. But we excluded student samples even when they were performing a work-related task as students are too far detached from the reality of work. Our sample was also limited to studies that set out to examine the SAH rather than studies that adopted a SAH to test other relationships, such as value congruence studies (e.g., Cable and DeRue 2002 ). As such, the studies in the present paper typically employed a design in which a similarity independent variable (IV) predicted (or, more commonly, as a result of the dominance of cross-sectional designs, was associated with) an attractiveness dependent variable (DV). This IV → DV relationship was predicted and used to design the empirical study, which was tested with a variation of it (i.e., different types of similarity or attraction variable), typically with moderators or mediators. As such, similarity is viewed as the fundamental driver of effects and there is an absence of studies exploring why similarity is important to people in workplaces.

This dataset is dominated by cross-sectional (13 demographic (59%), 11 psychological (55%), and 4 combined (57%)) studies, which is counter-intuitive given the inherently predictive nature of the SAH (i.e., similarity leads to attraction). Testing the IV and DV at the same time makes the predictive element of the hypothesis unproven. Cross-sectional designs can, at best, show an association of the two constructs and only imply a predictive relationship (Kraemer et al. 2000 ). To get around the confounds in cross-sectional designs, researchers have adopted (1) experimental designs (2 demographic (9%) and 6 psychological (30%)) that capture policy intentions of organizational members, (2) archival studies (6 demographic (27%), 1 psychological (5%), and 1 combined (14%)), which can capture the historical effects on staff turnover and recruitment of similarity, and (3) longitudinal designs (1 demographic similarity, 2 psychological similarity, and 1 combined study). The low number of longitudinal studies in this field clearly presents an opportunity for future research. Such studies could validate the findings of cross-sectional studies, test the predictive nature of the similarity → attraction relationship, and explore the influence of other factors upon it. In addition, longitudinal studies adopting repeated measure methodologies could test for bidirectional effects and look at the strength and duration of the effect; this latter point is important given that Rosenfeld and Jackson ( 1965 ) reported that personality similarity only influenced friendship in the 1st year of acquaintance suggesting that SAH influences the initiation of attraction, but not its long-term survival.

Almost all of the demographic similarity studies in this review operationalize their similarity variables in very stark categorical terms. Gender is male or female; race is skin color and/or ethnographic background. Similarity or difference is calculated as being on one of the predetermined categories. These singular categorizations present a simple view of gender, race, and other demographic similarities. An alternative approach is intersectionality (Crenshaw 1990 ), which argues that different aspects of a person’s identity intersect to influence behavior towards them. For example, to treat Black women like White women ignores many socio-cultural factors disadvantaging them (Wilkins 2012 ). Intersectional analysis could take demographic similarity into a cultural and political space where the purpose of studying demographic SAH is to highlight privilege, disadvantage, and discrimination (Tatli and Özbilgin 2012 ).

5.4 Recruitment and selection

Perhaps the greatest influence of SAH in organizational settings is in explaining recruitment and selection decisions. Various scholars (e.g., Riordan 2000 ; Schneider 1987 ) have argued that applicants are more attracted to, and more expected to choose to work for, an organization whose workforce has features similar to their own. For example, people may be more attracted to a company that recruits a group of employees who are racially like them, predicting that these workers share their values and attitudes (Avery et al. 2004 ). These predictions have been demonstrated to be accurate in several studies in this review. Roth et al. ( 2020 ) showed that candidates’ perceived similarity of their political affiliation influences employment decision-makers, which eventually resulted in liking and organizational citizenship behavior performance (i.e., an employee’s voluntary commitment to the organization beyond his/her contractually obligated tasks). Kacmarek et al. ( 2012 ) found that greater female presence on nominating committees subsequently led to increased female representation on company boards. Chen and Lin ( 2014 ) showed that recruiters’ perceptions of applicants’ similarity to them influenced selection decisions. However, some asymmetric findings have emerged. For example, while Goldberg ( 2005 ) demonstrated race similarity effects, she also noted that male recruiters have a preference for female applicants. But, by and large, these studies align with findings in the general recruitment and selection literature reporting that organizational recruiters favor applicants resembling themselves and this reinforces opportunity in organizations to groups of people who already enjoy employment positions there (Bye et al. 2014 ; Kennedy and Power 2010 ; Noon 2010 ; Persell and Cookson 1985 ; Rivera 2012 ). As a consequence, many countries have passed legislation to protect those disadvantaged by these processes, although such legislation mainly confines itself to surface-level demographic factors such as gender, race, and disability. Hence, the application of SAH to recruitment situations is challenging as it separates demographic and psychological similarity and is located behind a legal mask that probably suppresses its appearance.

5.5 Post-hire

During employment, SAH presents a paradox for organizations. On the one hand, employees like working with people like themselves and are more productive (Bakar and McCann 2014 ; Chatman and O’Reilly 2004 ). But, on the other hand, it creates employee homogeneity, which Schneider ( 1987 ) argues causes organizations to occupy a self-defeating and increasingly narrow ecological niche, and crystalizes disadvantage and discrimination (Dali 2018 ). Empirical studies included in this review demonstrate both sides of this paradox. Interestingly though, looking across the demographic and psychological similarity studies separately, we gained a sense that demographic similarity worked in the initial phases of relationships to bring people together (e.g., Rosenfeld and Jackson 1965 ) and during short engagements (e.g., during recruitment and selection and loan decisions) when demographic similarity aids decision-making when there is impoverished information. Psychological similarity works over more prolonged periods and therefore comes more to the fore in during long-term employment (e.g., Marchiondo et al. 2018 ; Sears and Holmvall, 2010 ).

One noticeable absence in the studies captured in this review are those that explore value congruence (e.g., Adkins et al. 1994 ; Billsberry 2007b ; Chatman 1989 , 1991 ; Meglino et al. 1992 ; Yu and Verma 2019 ). These studies compare the similarity of aspects of people at work, most typically work values, and explore the consequences. Work value congruence has been shown to lead to positive organizational outcomes such as job satisfaction, organizational commitment, decrease employee conflict and negatively related to intentions to leave and organizational exit (Hoffman and Woehr 2006 ; Jehn 1994 ; Jehn et al. 1997 , 1999 ; Kristof-Brown and Guay 2011 ; Subramanian et al. 2022 ; Verquer et al. 2003 ), thereby supporting SAH. Conversely, value incongruence is associated with distancing outcomes such as feelings of not belonging or being unfulfilled, and organizational exit (Edwards and Cable 2009 ; Edwards and Shipp 2007 ; Follmer et al. 2018 ; Kristof-Brown et al. 2005 ; Vogel et al. 2016 ) thereby supporting DRH leading Abbasi et al. ( 2021 ) to suggest that value congruence and value incongruence, and therefore SAH and DRH, are two different forces. The non-appearance of these studies in the current review appears to stem from the way these value congruence studies are theoretically justified. Rather than being direct tests of SAH, they are one step removed and based on ideas of person-environment (PE) fit and person-organization (PO) fit. These theories are themselves grounded in SAH (e.g., Chatman 1989 ; Schneider 1987 ), but the field is sufficiently well developed as a branch of PE and PO fit that it is not necessary to refer back to the conceptual roots of the SAH. This is likely to be the case for many others forms of congruence and incongruence such as political ideology incongruence (e.g., Bermiss and MacDonald 2018 ) or personality congruence (Schneider et al. 1998 ).

5.6 Organizational exit

Perhaps the biggest surprise in this dataset is the almost complete absence of any SAH studies exploring the organizational exit phase of work as voluntary decisions to leave organizations is one of the clearest examples of employees’ behavioral distancing (i.e., moving apart). Furthermore, there is theory arguing (e.g., Schneider 1987 ) that when employees feel dissimilar to others, they leave organizations. As mentioned above, there are many studies in the value congruence, PE fit, and PO fit literatures that explore the effect of dissimilarity on organizational exit, but these are not positioned as direct tests of SAH and so did not appear in this review.

6 Discussion

This systematic review has shown that, by and large, SAH holds true in organizational settings; similarity leads to attraction. There are some contrarian and asymmetrical findings, but these typically occur when other theories interact with SAH. An example comes from Gaertner and Dovidio ( 2000 ) who showed that both male and female interviewers favored applicants of the opposite sex, which is better explained by social identity theory. Further, legal sanctions can influence the appearance of SAH during recruitment, selection, and other episodes. Consequently, SAH can be viewed as a strong underlying force driving employees’ natural behavior, but it is not so strong that it cannot be overcome by other forces.

In organizational settings, paradox surrounds the application of SAH. People have a natural tendency to want to be with people like themselves and, without other influence, will choose to recruit people like themselves. Moreover, they prefer working with people like themselves and are more productive doing so. But such behavior can be exclusionary, discriminatory, and inequitable. Most countries have laws protecting many different categories of people from disadvantageous behavior for this reason. Further, many, perhaps most, organizations have espoused values and adopt policies of equal opportunity and these policies police formal selection processes, performance appraisals, and promotion practices, and informal behavior between employees. Neo-normative organizations go further and espouse values celebrating diversity and inclusivity (Husted 2021 ). In such organizations, employees are encouraged to “just be yourself” (Fleming and Sturdy 2011 : 178), although this does not extend to their natural tendency to want to associate with people like themselves and strict rules exist to ensure compliance (Fleming and Sturdy 2009 ). So, there are many rules and regulations in organizations protecting those who might be disadvantaged from people’s natural tendency to be attracted to people similar to themselves.

Organization-level analysis is missing from the studies included in this systematic review. Instead, all the studies are designed as individual-level studies where data for both IVs and DVs are gathered from or about individuals and the impact of similarity or dissimilarity for them. This aligns with traditions in industrial/organizational psychology (Schneider and Pulakos 2022 ), but although it sheds light on individual differences, it fails to explore the ramifications of similarity and dissimilarity for organizations. This is not an insignificant omission as theoretical work by Schneider ( 1987 ) argues that the similarity-attraction hypothesis is a powerful force creating and reinforcing the cultures of organizations that explains why organizations are different to each other even when in the same industry and location. Further, exploring the impact of individual-level processes at the level of the organization can test assumptions about the importance of individual-level effects for the organization. As Schneider and Pulakos ( 2022 : 386) state, “[t]he problem lies in our tendency to assume that the characteristics that produce high-performing individuals and teams also yield high-performing organizations, without testing this as often as we could or should.” In short, the assumption that effects at the individual-level lead to effects at the organization-level is an ecological fallacy and there is a need to test the organizational impact, if any, of individual-level findings.

Similarly, this systematic review did not include any empirical studies of the dissimilarity-repulsion hypothesis (DRH; Rosenbaum 1986 ). Relevant search terms were included, but no empirical studies of DRH in workplaces were found. One possible explanation accounting for this gap is that researchers may have presumed that since this theory is the polar opposite of similarity-attraction theory, low similarly-attraction means high dissimilarity repulsion, so the testing of both hypotheses may have been viewed as unnecessary. Alternatively, the low number of studies of organizational exit, particularly voluntary turnover, the most natural and powerful repulsion outcome in organizational settings, in this dataset constrains the appearance of the DRH. Organizational exit is a large literature and dissimilarity and misfit are known to be drivers of these actions (e.g., Doblhofer et al. 2019 ; Jackson et al. 1991 ; Kristof-Brown et al. 2005 ), so the suggestion is, like with value congruence, that these studies are grounded on theories other than DRH. Another interesting problem with DRH is the use of the term repulsion, which hints at “abhorrence, loathing, disgust and hatred” (Abbasi et al. 2021 : 9). In times when there is a strong skew towards positive psychology (Kanfer 2005 ), examining the darker side of organizational life is much less common. Nevertheless, these are the moments that have the most impact on people and deserve much greater scholarly attention.

In addition to the above, this systematic review has surfaced several key avenues for future research related to methodological advancement. The first notable weakness in the empirical papers reviewed on this topic is the absence of studies adopting a longitudinal design. This is particularly noteworthy because the similarity leads to attraction hypothesis is inherently predictive in nature. Cross-sectional studies can give a sense of associations between similarity and attraction constructs, but do not convince when applied to predictive hypotheses. Some authors (e.g., Bruns et al. 2008 ; Eagleson et al. 2000 ; Young et al. 1997 ) have circumvented this issue by adopting policy-gathering designs in which respondents give an opinion about what they would do in a particular situation, but the findings of such studies would carry more weight if they were followed up with empirical studies of what people actually do or did in such circumstances. In this literature, there is a tendency for each study to stand separate from the other studies almost as if each study was exploring the hypothesis in a particular aspect of workplaces for the first time. Such exploratory work is commendable, but there is a need for studies to replicate and integrate findings.

The second noticeable methodological weakness in these studies is the manner in which attraction outcomes have been defined. Decisions to join or leave organizations are the most obvious examples of behavioral attraction and repulsion (i.e., ‘moving to’ and ‘moving away’). However, even attraction and repulsion outcomes like these are rarely the exclusive consequence of similarity or dissimilarity, but they have the advantage of being clear movements into or out of organizations. Other behavioral outcomes used in these studies as measures of attraction include absenteeism, TMT homogeneity, diversity levels, advice-seeking, and small business loan decisions, which appear to show decreasing alignment to the notions of attraction or repulsion. The psychological interpretations of attraction are perhaps even further removed from direct definitions of the word. Many constructs have been used as the dependent variables ranging from job satisfaction, perceived PO fit, perceptions of the quality of LMX relationships, commitment to a trade union, reactions to incivility, and employee well-being. These are all important outcomes, but they are not necessarily capturing a sense of feeling closer to others. Only five studies in this sample collected attraction data based on interpersonal liking, relations, or friendship, which might be thought to be the most direct capture of attraction. As a result, the workplace SAH literature gives the impression of actually being a literature that has rigorously explored the impact of many different types of demographic and psychological similarity in organizations, but not necessarily in terms of how it predicts attraction and repulsion outcomes. Hence, there is a strong need for SAH studies that capture more direct measures of attraction and this could prove to be a fruitful avenue for future research.

Another methodological consideration centers on causation. All the studies reviewed in this review employed an IV predicts DV design where the IVs were a form of similarity or dissimilarity and the DVs were a form of attraction or repulsion. As the SAH was being tested, the natural assumption in these studies is that similarity itself is the driver of outcomes. This, of course, triggers questions about why similarity (or dissimilarity) might be driving outcomes. What is it about similarity that drives attraction outcomes? An unkind hypothesis might be that people are inherently racist, sexist, ageist, linguicist, and so forth, in which case management control strategies appear a natural response. A kinder hypothesis is that people feel less threat from people similar to themselves and have a greater sense of belonging amongst people similar to themselves, in which case strategies focused on improving integration appear appropriate. A more neutral hypothesis might be the similarity makes it easier to predict others’ behavior and brings expectations of reciprocity (Newcomb 1956 ), which would raise distributive justice concerns. At present, the SAH in the workplace literature talks little about why similarity drives attraction outcomes and instead tends to focus on whether it does lead to attraction. But as different organizational responses might be expected to follow different causations, it is important to explore the reasons why similarity (and dissimilarity) are having attraction (and repulsion) effects in workplaces.

6.1 Limitations

This systematic review was strictly limited to empirical studies that set out to test SAH (and DRH) in organizational settings. To be included in this systematic review, this intention needed to be stated in the title, abstract, or keywords through the mention of various words and phrases suggesting SAH. This approach means that there are likely to be many studies not included in this systematic review that might measure some form of human similarity and use it to predict some form of attraction. The most obvious examples are the various organizational fit literatures, the value congruence and incongruence literatures, the recruitment, selection, induction, and socialization literatures, and the organizational exit literature. In all these cases, there are theoretical foundations based on SAH or DRH, but these literatures take the SAH and DRH roots ‘as a given’ and have placed their own theoretical frameworks on them (Evertz and Süß 2017 ). For example, an empirical PO fit study, which has similarity assessments at its core, might refer to PE interactions as its theoretical base and not deconstruct this further to the underlying SAH. It seems a common theme in these fields; there is no longer feel the need to justify the study in terms of testing SAH or DRH and therefore these underpinning hypotheses are not mentioned in titles, abstracts, or keywords. Although considerable scholarly advantage would accrue from including these literatures in a systematic review of SAH and DRH, it would be a truly Herculean task as it would require reading literally thousands of papers without any search terms to guide the hunt for similarity IVs and attraction DVs.

7 Conclusion

This paper systematically reviewed empirical studies of the ‘similarity leads to attraction’ (SAH) and ‘dissimilarity leads to repulsion’ (DRH) hypotheses in organizational settings. A total of 49 studies in 45 separate papers were surfaced, which split roughly 50/50 into studies of demographic similarity and psychological similarity. The results of these studies confirm that SAH remains valid in organizational settings and that it is a fundamental force driving employees’ behavior. However, although similarity and dissimilarity drive attraction and repulsion outcomes, the force is not so strong that it cannot be overridden or moderated by other forces, which includes forces from psychological, organizational, and legal domains. This systematic review highlighted a number of methodological issues in tests of SAH relating to the low number of longitudinal studies, which is important given the predictive nature of the hypotheses, and the varying conceptualizations of attraction measurement. This study also demonstrated that paradox is at the heart of SAH in organizational settings.

Data availability

The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Code availability

The search terms used to gather data are detailed in the methodology section.

It should be noted that although Montoya and Horton ( 2020 ) categorize ‘liking’ as an element of interpersonal attraction, others have categorized it as an aspect of affective attraction. Differences relate to how ‘liking’ is conceptualized and measured in studies.

Avery DR, Hernandez M, Hebl MR (2004) Who’s watching the race? Racial salience in recruitment advertising. J Appl Soc Psychol 34:146–161. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2004.tb02541.x

Article   Google Scholar  

*Bacharach SB, Bamberger PA (2004) Diversity and the union: the effect of demographic dissimilarity on members’ union attachment. Group Org Manag 29:385–418. https://doi.org/10.1177/1059601103257414

*Bagues MF, Esteve-Volart B (2010) Can gender parity break the glass ceiling? Evidence from a repeated randomized experiment. Rev Econ Stud 77:1301–1328. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-937X.2009.00601.x

*Bakar HA, McCann RM (2014) Matters of demographic similarity and dissimilarity in supervisor–subordinate relationships and workplace attitudes. Int J Intercultl Relat 41:1–16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2014.04.004

Bandura A (1991) Social cognitive theory of self-regulation. Org Behav Human Decis Process 50:248–287. https://doi.org/10.1016/0749-5978(91)90022-l

*Bechtoldt MN (2015) Wanted: self-doubting employees—Managers scoring positively on impostorism favor insecure employees in task delegation. Pers Individ Differ 86:482–486. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2015.07.002

Bermiss YS, McDonald R (2018) Ideological misfit? Political affiliation and employee departure in the private-equity industry. Acad Manag J 61:2182–2209. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2016.0817

Berscheid ES (1985) Interpersonal attraction. In: Lindzey G, Aronson E (eds) Handbook of social psychology, vol 2. Random House, New York, pp 413–483

Google Scholar  

Billsberry J (2007a) Experiencing recruitment and selection. Wiley, Chichester

Billsberry J (2007b) Attracting for values: an empirical study of ASA’s attraction proposition. J Manag Psychol 22:132–149. https://doi.org/10.1108/02683940710726401

Björklund F, Bäckström M, Wolgast S (2012) Company norms affect which traits are preferred in job candidates and may cause employment discrimination. J Psychol 146:579–594. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223980.2012.658459

Bond MH, Byrne D, Diamond MJ (1968) Effect of occupational prestige and attitude similarity on attraction as a function of assumed similarity of attitude. Psychol Rep 23:1167–1172. https://doi.org/10.2466/pr0.1968.23.3f.1167

*Bruns V, Holland DV, Shepherd DA, Woklund J (2008) The role of human capital in loan officers’ decision policies. Entrep Theor Pract 32:485–506. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6520.2008.00237.x

Bye HH, Horverak JG, Sandal GM, Sam DL, van de Vijver FJR (2014) Cultural fit and ethnic background in the job interview. Int J Cross Cult Manag 14:7–26. https://doi.org/10.1177/1470595813491237

Byrne D (1961) Interpersonal attraction and attitude similarity. J Abnorm Soc Psychol 62:713–715. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0044721

Byrne D (1971) The attraction paradigm. Academic Press, New York

Byrne D (1997) An overview (and underview) of research and theory within the attraction paradigm. J Soc Pers Relat 14:417–431. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407597143008

Byrne D, Blaylock B (1963) Similarity and assumed similarity among husbands and wives. J Abnorm Soc Psychol 67:636–640. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0045531

Byrne D, Clore GL (1967) Effectance arousal and attraction. J Pers Soc Psychol 6:1–18. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0024829

Byrne D, Nelson D (1965) Attraction as a linear function of proportion of positive reinforcements. J Pers Soc Psychol 1:659–663. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0022073

Byrne D, Clore GL, Worchel P (1966) The effect of economic similarity-dissimilarity on interpersonal attraction. J Pers Soc Psychol 4:220–224. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0023559

Byrne D, Ervin CR, Lamberth J (1970) Continuity between the experimental study of attraction and real-life computing dating. J Pers Soc Psychol 16:157–165. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0029836

Cable DM, DeRue DS (2002) The convergent and discriminant validity of subjective fit perceptions. J Appl Psychol 87:875–884. https://doi.org/10.1037//0021-9010.87.5.875

Carli L, Eagly A (1999) Gender effects on social influence and emergent leadership. In: Powell GN (ed) Handbook of gender and work. Sage, Thousand Oaks, pp 203–222

Chapter   Google Scholar  

Caulley L, Cheng W, Catalá-López F, Whelan J, Khoury M, Ferraro J, Moher D (2020) Citation impact was highly variable for reporting guidelines of health research: a citation analysis. J Clin Epidemiol 127:96–104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclinepi.2020.07.013

Chatman J (1989) Improving interactional organizational research: a model of person-organization fit. Acad Manag Rev 14:333–349. https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.1989.4279063

Chatman JA (1991) Matching people and organizations: selection and socialization in public accounting firms. Adm Sci Q 36:459–484. https://doi.org/10.2307/2393204

*Chatman JA, O’Reilly CA (2004) Asymmetric reactions to work group sex diversity among men and women. Acad Manag J 47:193–208. https://doi.org/10.5465/20159572

*Chen CC, Lin MM (2014) The effect of applicant impression management tactics on hiring recommendations: cognitive and affective processes. Appl Psychol Int Rev 63:698–724. https://doi.org/10.1111/apps.12013

Coates K, Carr SC (2005) Skilled immigrants and selection bias: a theory-based field study from New Zealand. Int J Intercult Relat 29:577–599. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2005.05.001

Condon JW, Crano WD (1988) Inferred evaluation and the relation between attitude similarity and interpersonal attraction. J Pers Soc Psychol 54:789–797

Crenshaw K (1990) Mapping the margins: intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stan Law Rev 43:1241–1299. https://doi.org/10.2307/1229039

Dali K (2018) Culture fit as anti-diversity Avoiding Human Resources decisions that disadvantage the brightest. Int J Info Divers Incl 2:1–8. https://doi.org/10.33137/ijidi.v2i4.32199

*Den Hartog DN, De Hoogh AHB, Belschak FD (2020) Toot your own horn? Leader narcissism and the effectiveness of employee self-promotion. J Manag 46:261–286. https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206318785240

*Devendorf SA, Highhouse S (2008) Applicant-employee similarity and attraction to an employer. J Occup Org Psychol 81:607–617. https://doi.org/10.1348/096317907X248842

Doblhofer DS, Hauser A, Kuonath A, Haas K, Agthe M, Frey D (2019) Make the best out of the bad: coping with value incongruence through displaying facades of conformity, positive reframing, and self-disclosure. Eur J Work Org Psychol 28:572–593. https://doi.org/10.1080/1359432X.2019.1567579

*Doms M, zu Knyphausen-Aufseß D (2014) Structure and characteristics of top management teams as antecedents of outside executive appointments: a three-country study. Int J Human Resour Manag 25(22):3060–3085. https://doi.org/10.1080/09585192.2014.914052

Duck SW, Craig G (1975) Effects of type of information upon interpersonal attraction. Soc Behav Pers Int J 3:157–164. https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.1975.3.2.157

*Eagleson G, Waldersee R, Simmons R (2000) Leadership behaviour similarity as a basis of selection into a management team. Br J Soc Psychol 39:301–308. https://doi.org/10.1348/014466600164480

Edwards JR, Cable DM (2009) The value of value congruence. J Appl Psychol 94:654–677. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0014891

Edwards J, Shipp A (2007) The relationship between person-organization fit and outcomes: An integrative theoretical framework. In: Ostroff C, Judge TA (eds) Perspectives on organizational fit. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, pp 209–258

Engle EM, Lord RG (1997) Implicit theories, self-schemas, and leader-member exchange. Acad Manag J 40:988–1010. https://doi.org/10.2307/256956

Evertz L, Süß S (2017) The importance of individual differences for applicant attraction: a literature review and avenues for future research. Manag Rev Q 67:141–174. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11301-017-0126-2

Festinger L, Schachter S, Back K (1950) Social pressures in informal groups; a study of human factors in housing. Milbank Memorial Fund Q 30:384–387. https://doi.org/10.2307/3348388

Fisher G, Mayer K, Morris S (2021) From the editors—Phenomenon-based theorizing. Acad Manag Rev 46(4):631–639. https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.2021.0320

Fiske ST, Taylor SE (2008) Social cognition: From brains to culture, 3rd edn. McGraw-Hill, New York

Fleming P, Sturdy A (2009) “Just be yourself!: towards neo-normative control in organizations. Emp Relat 31:569–583. https://doi.org/10.1108/01425450910991730

Fleming P, Sturdy A (2011) ‘Being yourself’ in the electronic sweatshop: new forms of normative control. Human Relat 64:177–200. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726710375481

Follmer EH, Talbot DL, Kristof-Brown AL, Astrove SL, Billsberry J (2018) Resolution, relief, and resignation: a qualitative study of responses to misfit at work. Acad Manag J 61:440–465. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2014.0566

Gaertner SL, Dovidio JF (2000) Reducing intergroup bias: The common ingroup identity model. Psychology Press, Philadelphia

Gardiner E (2022) What’s age got to do with it? The effect of board member age diversity: a systematic review. Manag Rev Q. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11301-022-00294-5

*Geddes D, Konrad AM (2003) Demographic differences and reactions to performance feedback. Human Relat 56:1485–1513. https://doi.org/10.1177/00187267035612003

*Georgiou G (2017) Are oral examinations objective? Evidence from the hiring process for judges in Greece. Eur J Law Econ 44:217–239. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10657-016-9545-0

*Goldberg CB (2005) Relational demography and similarity-attraction in interview assessments and subsequent offer decisions - Are we missing something? Group Org Manag 30:597–624. https://doi.org/10.1177/1059601104267661

*Graves LM, Powell GN (1988) An investigation of sex discrimination in recruiters’ evaluations of actual applicants. J Appl Psychol 73:20–29. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.73.1.20

Graziano WG, Bruce JW (2008) Attraction and the initiation of relationships: A review of the empirical literature. In: Sprecher S, Wenzel A, Harvey J (eds) Handbook of relationship initiation. Psychology Press, Philadelphia, pp 275–301. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429020513-24

Griffitt WB (1966) Interpersonal attraction as a function of self-concept and personality similarity-dissimilarity. J Pers Soc Psychol 4:581–584. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0023893

Grigoryan L (2020) Perceived similarity in multiple categorization. Appl Psychol Int Rev 69:1122–1144. https://doi.org/10.1111/apps.12202

Hambrick DC (2007) Upper echelons theory: an update. Acad Manag Rev 32:334–343. https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.2007.24345254

Harrison DA, Price KH, Bell MP (1998) Beyond relational demography: time and the effects of surface- and deep-level diversity on work group cohesion. Acad Manag J 41:96–107. https://doi.org/10.5465/256901

Heine SJ, Foster JAB, Spina R (2009) Do birds of a feather universally flock together? Cultural variation in the similarity-attraction effect. Asian J Soc Psychol 12:247–258. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-839x.2009.01289.x

Herriot P (1989) Selection as a social process. In: Smith M, Robertson IT (eds) Advances in selection and assessment. Wiley, Chichester, pp 171–187

Hoffman B, Woehr D (2006) A quantitative review of the relationship between person–organization fit and behavioral outcomes. J Vocat Behav 68:389–399. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2005.08.003

Hogg MA, Terry DJ (2000) Social identity and self-categorization processes in organizational contexts. Acad Manag Rev 25:121–140. https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.2000.2791606

Husted E (2021) Alternative organization and neo-normative control: notes on a British town council. Cult Org 27:132–151. https://doi.org/10.1080/14759551.2020.1775595

Huston TL, Levinger G (1978) Interpersonal attraction and relationships. Annu Rev Psychol 29:115–156. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.ps.29.020178.000555

Jackson SE, Brett JF, Sessa VI, Cooper DM, Julin JA, Peyronnin K (1991) Some differences make a difference: individual dissimilarity and group heterogeneity as correlates of recruitment, promotions, and turnover. J Appl Psychol 76:675–689. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.76.5.675

*Jaiswal A, Dyaram L (2019) Towards well-being: role of diversity and nature of work. Emp Relat 41:158–175. https://doi.org/10.1108/ER-11-2017-0279

Jehn KA (1994) Enhancing effectiveness: an investigation of advantages and disadvantages of value-based intragroup conflict. Int J Confl Manag 5:223–238. https://doi.org/10.1108/eb022744

Jehn KA, Chadwick C, Thatcher SM (1997) To agree or not to agree: The effects of value congruence, individual demographic dissimilarity, and conflict on workgroup outcomes. Int J Confl Manag 8:287–305. https://doi.org/10.1108/eb022799

Jehn KA, Northcraft GB, Neale MA (1999) Why differences make a difference: a field study of diversity, conflict, and performance in workgroups. Adm Sci Q 44:741–763. https://doi.org/10.2307/2667054

*Jiang CX, Chua RYJ, Kotabe M, Murray JY (2011) Effects of cultural ethnicity, firm size, and firm age on senior executives’ trust in their overseas business partners: evidence from China. J Int Bus Stud 42:1150–1173. https://doi.org/10.1057/jibs.2011.35

*Kaczmarek S, Kimino S, Pye A (2012) Antecedents of board composition: the role of nomination committees. Corpor Gov Int Rev 20:474–489. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8683.2012.00913.x

Kanfer R (2005) Self-regulation research in work and I/O psychology. Appl Psychol Int Rev 54:186–191. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1464-0597.2005.00203.x

Kaptein M, Castaneda D, Fernandez N, Nass C (2014) Extending the similarity-attraction effect: the effects of when-similarity in computer-mediated communication. J Comput Med Commun 19:342–357. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcc4.12049

Kennedy M, Power MJ (2010) The smokescreen of meritocracy: elite education in Ireland and the reproduction of class privilege. J Crit Educ Policy Stud 8:222–248

*Klein KJ, Lim BC, Saltz JL, Mayer DM (2004) How do they get there? An examination of the antecedents of centrality in team networks. Acad Manag J 47:952–963. https://doi.org/10.5465/20159634

Kleinbaum AM, Stuart TE, Tushman ML (2013) Discretion within constraint: homophily and structure in a formal organization. Org Sci 24:1316–1336. https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.1120.0804

Klohnen EC, Luo S (2003) Interpersonal attraction and personality: what is attractive-self similarity, ideal similarity, complementarity or attachment security? J Pers Soc Psychol 85:709–722. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.85.4.709

Kraemer HC, Yesavage JA, Taylor JL, Kupfer D (2000) How can we learn about developmental processes from cross-sectional studies, or can we? Am J Psychiatry 157:163–171. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.157.2.163

Kristof-Brown AL, Guay RP (2011) Person-environment fit. In: Zedeck S (ed) APA handbook of industrial and organizational psychology, vol 3. American Psychological Association, Washington DC, pp 3–50. https://doi.org/10.1037/12171-001

Kristof-Brown AL, Zimmerman RD, Johnson EC (2005) Consequences of individuals’ fit at work: a meta-analysis of person-job, person-organization, person-group, and person-supervisor fit. Pers Psychol 58:281–342. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-6570.2005.00672.x

Kuckertz A, Block J (2021) Reviewing systematic literature reviews: ten key questions and criteria for reviewers. Manag Rev Q 71:519–524. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11301-021-00228-7

Kulik CT, Bainbridge HT (2006) HR and the line: the distribution of HR activities in Australian organisations. Asia Pac J Human Resour 44:240–256. https://doi.org/10.1177/1038411106066399

Lane PJ, Pathak KBR, S, (2006) The reification of absorptive capacity: a critical review and rejuvenation of the construct. Acad Manag Rev 31:833–863. https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.2006.22527456

*Lau DC, Lam LW, Salamon SD (2008) The impact of relational demographics on perceived managerial trustworthiness: similarity or norms? J Soc Psychol 148:187–209. https://doi.org/10.3200/socp.148.2.187-209

*Liang HY, Shih HA, Chiang YH (2015) Team diversity and team helping behavior: the mediating roles of team cooperation and team cohesion. Eur Manag J 33:48–59. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emj.2014.07.002

*Marchiondo LA, Biermeier-Hanson B, Krenn DR, Kabat-Farr D (2018) Target meaning-making of workplace incivility based on perceived personality similarity with perpetrators. J Psychol Interdiscip Appl 152:474–496. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223980.2018.1481819

*Marstand AF, Epitropaki O, Martin R (2018) Cross-lagged relations between perceived leader–employee value congruence and leader identification. J Occup Org Psychol 91:411–420. https://doi.org/10.1111/joop.12192

McPherson M, Smith-Lovin L, Cook JM (2001) Birds of a feather: homophily in social networks. Annu Rev Soc 27:415–444. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.soc.27.1.415

Meglino BM, Ravlin EC, Adkins CL (1992) The measurement of work value congruence: a field study comparison. J Manag 18:33–43. https://doi.org/10.1177/014920639201800103

*Mitteness CR, DeJordy R, Ahuja MK, Sudek R (2016) Extending the role of similarity attraction in friendship and advice networks in angel groups. Entrep Theor Pract 40:627–655. https://doi.org/10.1111/etap.12135

Montoya RM, Horton RS (2012) The reciprocity of liking effect. In: Paludi M (ed) The psychology of love. Praeger, Santa Barbara, pp 39–57

Montoya RM, Horton RS (2013) A meta-analytic investigation of the processes underlying the similarity-attraction effect. J Soc Pers Rel 30:64–94. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407512452989

Montoya RM, Horton RS (2014) A two-dimensional model for the study of interpersonal attraction. Pers Soc Psychol Rev 18:59–86. https://doi.org/10.1177/1088868313501887

Montoya RM, Horton RS (2020) Understanding the attraction process. Soc Pers Psychol Compass 14:e12526. https://doi.org/10.1111/spc3.12526

Montoya RM, Horton RS, Kirchner J (2008) Is actual similarity necessary for attraction? A meta-analysis of actual and perceived similarity. J Soc Pers Relat 25:889–922. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407508096700

Montoya RM, Kershaw C, Prosser JL (2018) A meta-analytic investigation of the relation between interpersonal attraction and enacted behavior. Psychol Bull 144:673–709. https://doi.org/10.1037/bul0000148

Newcomb TM (1956) The prediction of interpersonal attraction. Am Psychol 11:575–586. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0046141

Newcomb TM (1961) The acquaintanceship process. Holt, New York

Book   Google Scholar  

*Nielsen S (2009) Why do top management teams look the way they do? A multilevel exploration of the antecedents of TMT heterogeneity. Strateg Org 7:277–305. https://doi.org/10.1177/1476127009340496

Noon M (2010) The shackled runner: time to rethink positive discrimination? Work Employ Soc 24:728–739. https://doi.org/10.1177/0950017010380648

O’Dea RE, Lagisz M, Jennions MD, Koricheva J, Noble DW, Parker TH, Nakagawa S (2021) Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses in ecology and evolutionary biology: a PRISMA extension. Biol Rev 96:1695–1722. https://doi.org/10.1111/brv.12721

O’Reilly CA III, Caldwell DF, Chatman JA, Doerr B (2014) The promise and problems of organizational culture: CEO personality, culture, and firm performance. Group Org Manag 39:595–625. https://doi.org/10.1177/1059601114550713

*Orpen C (1984) Attitude similarity, attraction, and decision-making in the employment interview. J Psychol 117:111–120. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223980.1984.9923666

*Parent-Rocheleau X, Bentein K, Simard G (2020) Positive together? The effects of leader-follower (dis) similarity in psychological capital. J Bus Res 110:435–444. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2020.02.016

*Perry EL, Kulik CT, Zhou J (1999) A closer look at the effects of subordinate-supervisor age differences. J Org Behav 20:341–357. https://doi.org/10.1002/(sici)1099-1379(199905)20:3%3c341::aid-job915%3e3.0.co;2-d

Persell CH, Cookson P (1985) Chartering and bartering: elite education and social reproduction. Soc Probl 33:114–129. https://doi.org/10.2307/800556

Pierce CA, Byrne D, Aguinis H (1996) Attraction in organizations: a model of workplace romance. J Org Behav 17:5–32. https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1099-1379(199601)17:1%3c5::AID-JOB734%3e3.0.CO;2-E

Pugh M, Wahrman R (1983) Neutralizing sexism in mixed-sex groups: do women have to be better than men? Am J Soc 88:746–762. https://doi.org/10.1086/227731

Ridgeway CL (1991) The social construction of status value: gender and other nominal characteristics. Soc Forces 70:367–386. https://doi.org/10.1093/sf/70.2.367

Ridgeway CL, Balkwell JW (1997) Group processes and the diffusion of status beliefs. Soc Psychol Q 60:14–31. https://doi.org/10.2307/2787009

Riordan CM (2000) Relational demography within groups: Past developments, contradictions, and new directions. In: Ferris GR (ed) Research in personnel and human resources management, vol 19. JAI Press, New York, pp 131–174

Rivera LA (2012) Hiring as cultural matching: the case of elite professional service firms. Am Soc Rev 77:999–1022. https://doi.org/10.1177/0003122412463213

Rosenbaum ME (1986) The repulsion hypothesis. On the nondevelopment of relationships. J Pers Soc Psychol 51:1156–1166. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.51.6.1156

*Rosenfeld HM, Jackson J (1965) Temporal mediation of the similarity-attraction hypothesis. J Pers 33:649–656. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.1965.tb01410.x

*Roth PL, Thatcher JB, Bobko P, Matthews KD, Ellingson JE, Goldberg CB (2020) Political affiliation and employment screening decisions: the role of similarity and identification processes. J Appl Psychol 105:472–486. https://doi.org/10.1037/apl0000422

*Rupert J, Jehn KA, van Engen ML, de Reuver RS (2010) Commitment of cultural minorities in organizations: effects of leadership and pressure to conform. J Bus Psychol 25:25–37. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-009-9131-3

Sacco JM, Scheu CR, Ryan AM, Schmitt N (2003) An investigation of race and sex similarity effects in interviews: a multi-level approach to relational demography. J Appl Psychol 88:852–865. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.88.5.852

*Salminen M, Henttonen P, Ravaja N (2016) The role of personality in dyadic interaction: a psychophysiological study. Int J Psychophysiol 109:45–50. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2016.09.014

Schachter S (1959) The psychology of affiliation. Stanford University Press, Stanford

*Schieman S, McMullen T (2008) Relational demography in the workplace and health: an analysis of gender and the subordinate-superordinate role-set. J Health Soc Behav 49:286–300. https://doi.org/10.1177/002214650804900304

Schneider B (1987) The people make the place. Pers Psychol 40:437–453. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-6570.1987.tb00609.x

Schneider B, Pulakos ED (2022) Expanding the I-O psychology mindset to organizational success. Ind Organ Psychol 15:385–402. https://doi.org/10.1017/iop.2022.27

Schneider B, Smith DB, Taylor S, Fleenor J (1998) Personality and organizations: a test of the homogeneity of personality hypothesis. J Appl Psychol 83:462–470. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.83.3.462

*Schreurs B, Druart C, Proost K, De Witte K (2009) Symbolic attributes and organizational attractiveness: the moderating effects of applicant personality. Int J Sel Assess 17:35–46. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2389.2009.00449.x

*Sears GJ, Holmvall CM (2010) The joint influence of supervisor and subordinate emotional intelligence on leader–member exchange. J Bus Psychol 25:593–605. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-009-9152-y

Singh R, Ho LJ, Tan HL, Bell PA (2007) Attitudes, personal evaluations, cognitive evaluation, and interpersonal attraction: on the direct, indirect, and reverse-causal effects. Br J Soc Psychol 46:19–42. https://doi.org/10.1348/014466606x104417

Singh R, Lin PKF, Tan HL, Ho LJ (2008) Evaluations, attitude similarity, and interpersonal attraction: testing the hypothesis of weighting interference across responses. Basic Appl Soc Psychol 30:241–252. https://doi.org/10.1080/01973530802375052

*Stark E, Poppler P (2009) Leadership, performance evaluations, and all the usual suspects. Pers Rev 38:320–338. https://doi.org/10.1108/00483480910943368

Subramanian S, Billsberry J, Barrett M (2022) A bibliometric analysis of person-organization fit research: significant features and contemporary trends. Manag Rev Q. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11301-022-00290-9

Sunnafrank M (1992) On debunking the attitude similarity myth. Commun Monogr 59:164–179. https://doi.org/10.1080/03637759209376259

Tatli A, Özbilgin MF (2012) An emic approach to intersectional study of diversity at work: a Bourdieuan framing. Int J Manag Rev 14:180–200. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2370.2011.00326.x

Terman LM (1938) Psychological factors in marital happiness. McGraw-Hill, New York

Tidwell ND, Eastwick PW, Finkel EJ (2013) Perceived, not actual, similarity predicts initial attraction in a live romantic context: evidence from the speed-dating paradigm. Pers Relat 20:199–215. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6811.2012.01405.x

*Tsui AS, Porter LW, Egan TD (2002) When both similarities and dissimilarities matter: extending the concept of relational demography. Human Relat 55:899–929. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726702055008176

Turner BA, Chelladurai P (2005) Organizational and occupational commitment, intention to leave, and perceived performance of intercollegiate coaches. J Sport Manag 19:193–211. https://doi.org/10.1123/jsm.19.2.193

*Van Hoye G, Turban DB (2015) Applicant–employee fit in personality: testing predictions from similarity-attraction theory and trait activation theory. Int J Sel Assess 23:210–223. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijsa.12109

Verquer ML, Beehr TA, Wagner SH (2003) A meta-analysis of relations between person–organization fit and work attitudes. J Vocat Behav 63:473–489. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0001-8791(02)00036-2

Vogel RM, Rodell JB, Lynch JW (2016) Engaged and productive misfits: how job crafting and leisure activity mitigate the negative effects of value incongruence. Acad Manag J 59:1561–1584. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2014.0850

Walster E, Aronson V, Abrahams D, Rottman L (1966) Importance of physical attractiveness in dating behavior. J Pers Soc Psychol 4:508–516. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0021188

Webster M Jr, Hysom SJ (1998) Creating status characteristics. Am Soc Rev. https://doi.org/10.2307/2657554

Wilkins AC (2012) Becoming black women: intimate stories and intersectional identities. Soc Psychol Q 75:173–196. https://doi.org/10.1177/0190272512440106

*Xu J, Yun K, Yan F, Jang P, Kim J, Pang C (2019) A study on the effect of TMT characteristics and vertical dyad similarity on enterprise achievements. Sustain 11:1–16. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102913

*Young IP, Place AW, Rinehart JS, Jury JC, Baits DF (1997) Teacher recruitment: a test of the similarity-attraction hypothesis for race and sex. Educ Adm Q 33:86–106. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013161X97033001005

Yu KYT, Verma K (2019) Investigating the role of goal orientation in job seekers’ experience of value congruence. Appl Psychol Int Rev 68:83–125. https://doi.org/10.1111/apps.12152

Zajonc RB (1968) Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. J Pers Soc Psychol Monogr 9:1–27. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0025848

*Zatzick CD, Elvira MM, Cohen LE (2003) When is more better? The effects of racial composition on voluntary turnover. Org Sci 14:483–496. https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.14.5.483.16768

*Zhu DH, Chen G (2015) Narcissism, director selection, and risk-taking spending. Strateg Manag J 36:2075–2098. https://doi.org/10.1002/smj.2322

* Included in systematic review

Abbasi Z, Billsberry J, Todres M (2021) An integrative conceptual two-factor model of workplace value congruence and incongruence. Manag Res Rev. https://doi.org/10.1108/MRR-03-2021-0211

Adkins CL, Russell CJ, Werbel JD (1994) Judgments of fit in the selection process: the role of work value congruence. Pers Psychol 47:605–623. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-6570.1994.tb01740.x

Alliger GM, Janak EA, Streeter D, Byrne D, Turban D (1993) Psychological similarity effects in personnel selection decisions and work relations: A meta-analysis. In: Annual conference of the society for industrial and organizational psychology, San Francisco CA, USA.

*Allinson CW, Armstrong SJ, Hayes J (2001) The effects of cognitive style on leader-member exchange: a study of manager-subordinate dyads. J Occup Org Psychol 74:201–220. https://doi.org/10.1348/096317901167316

*Almeida S, Fernando M, Hannif Z, Dharmage SC (2015) Fitting the mould: the role of employer perceptions in immigrant recruitment decision-making. Int J Human Resour Manag 26:2811–2832. https://doi.org/10.1080/09585192.2014.1003087

*Aronson ZH, Dominick PG, Wang M (2014) Exhibiting leadership and facilitation behaviors in NPD project-based work: does team personal style composition matter? Eng Manag J 26:25–35. https://doi.org/10.1080/10429247.2014.11432017

Download references


We would like to thank the editor, Professor Joern Block, and the anonymous reviewer for his or her valuable comments.

Open Access funding enabled and organized by CAUL and its Member Institutions.

Author information

Authors and affiliations.

University of Wollongong, Northfield Avenue, Wollongong, NSW, 2522, Australia

Zoleikha Abbasi, Jon Billsberry & Mathew Todres

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jon Billsberry .

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest.

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Consent to participate

The authors consent to participate.

Consent for publication

The authors consent for publication.

Additional information

Publisher's note.

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ .

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Abbasi, Z., Billsberry, J. & Todres, M. Empirical studies of the “similarity leads to attraction” hypothesis in workplace interactions: a systematic review. Manag Rev Q (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11301-022-00313-5

Download citation

Received : 29 January 2022

Accepted : 11 December 2022

Published : 16 January 2023

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s11301-022-00313-5

Share this article

Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:

Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.

Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative

  • Similarity-attraction hypothesis
  • Value congruence
  • Systematic review
  • Recruitment
  • Dissimilarity-repulsion hypothesis

JEL Classification

  • Find a journal
  • Publish with us
  • Track your research


  1. What is a Hypothesis

    what is a hypothesis also known as

  2. 🏷️ Formulation of hypothesis in research. How to Write a Strong

    what is a hypothesis also known as

  3. What is Hypothesis? Functions- Characteristics-types-Criteria

    what is a hypothesis also known as

  4. Hypothesis

    what is a hypothesis also known as

  5. How to write a hypothesis [Steps and samples]

    what is a hypothesis also known as

  6. How to Write a Hypothesis

    what is a hypothesis also known as


  1. What Is A Hypothesis?

  2. How To Formulate The Hypothesis/What is Hypothesis?

  3. Hypothesis Testing

  4. Concept of Hypothesis

  5. Documentary Hypothesis and JEDP: May the Priest be With You

  6. 8a. Introduction to Hypothesis Testing


  1. How to Write a Strong Hypothesis

    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.

  2. What Is A Research Hypothesis? A Simple Definition

    A research hypothesis (also called a scientific hypothesis) is a statement about the expected outcome of a study (for example, a dissertation or thesis). To constitute a quality hypothesis, the statement needs to have three attributes - specificity, clarity and testability. Let's take a look at these more closely.

  3. What Is a Hypothesis? The Scientific Method

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

  4. Scientific hypothesis

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

  5. What Is a Hypothesis and How Do I Write One?

    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.

  6. 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 ...

  7. What is a scientific hypothesis?

    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 ...

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

    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. ... a hypothesis is defined as "An idea or explanation of something that is based on a few known facts, but that ...

  9. Research Hypothesis In Psychology: Types, & Examples

    A research hypothesis, in its plural form "hypotheses," is a specific, testable prediction about the anticipated results of a study, established at its outset. The research hypothesis is often referred to as the alternative hypothesis. ... A non-directional hypothesis, also known as a two-tailed hypothesis, predicts that there is a difference ...

  10. Hypothesis Definition & Meaning

    hypothesis: [noun] an assumption or concession made for the sake of argument. an interpretation of a practical situation or condition taken as the ground for action.

  11. Scientific method

    scientific method, mathematical and experimental technique employed in the sciences. More specifically, it is the technique used in the construction and testing of a scientific hypothesis. The process of observing, asking questions, and seeking answers through tests and experiments is not unique to any one field of science.

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

    A hypothesis is 'a guess or supposition as to the existence of some fact or law which will serve to explain a connection of facts already known to exist.' - J. E. Creighton & H. R. Smart Hypothesis is 'a proposition not known to be definitely true or false, examined for the sake of determining the consequences which would follow from ...

  13. What is Hypothesis

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

  14. 13 Different Types of Hypothesis (2024)

    An empirical hypothesis is the opposite of a logical hypothesis. It is a hypothesis that is currently being tested using scientific analysis. We can also call this a 'working hypothesis'. We can to separate research into two types: theoretical and empirical. Theoretical research relies on logic and thought experiments.

  15. Three Famous Hypotheses and How They Were Tested

    The Hypothesis: If predators limit the populations of the organisms they attack, then we'd expect the prey species to become more common after the eradication of a major predator. The Experiment: Meet Pisaster ochraceus, also known as the purple sea star (or the purple starfish if you prefer).

  16. Statistical Hypothesis

    Hypothesis testing involves two statistical hypotheses. The first is the null hypothesis (H 0) as described above.For each H 0, there is an alternative hypothesis (H a) that will be favored if the null hypothesis is found to be statistically not viable.The H a can be either nondirectional or directional, as dictated by the research hypothesis. For example, if a researcher only believes the new ...

  17. Statistics

    Hypothesis testing. Hypothesis testing is a form of statistical inference that uses data from a sample to draw conclusions about a population parameter or a population probability distribution.First, a tentative assumption is made about the parameter or distribution. This assumption is called the null hypothesis and is denoted by H 0.An alternative hypothesis (denoted H a), which is the ...

  18. Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

    The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, also known as the linguistic relativity hypothesis, is a theory in linguistics and cognitive science that posits that the structure of a language influences the way its speakers perceive and think about the world. This hypothesis is named after its proponents, American linguists Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf ...

  19. Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis)

    The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis states that people experience the world based on the structure of their language, and that linguistic categories shape and limit cognitive processes. It proposes that differences in language affect thought, perception, and behavior, so speakers of different languages think and act differently.

  20. Chapter 9 (Sections 9.1 through 9.4) Flashcards

    A hypothesis is also known as an _____. ... True or false: All business managers need a basic understanding of hypothesis testing. TRUE. Even though repeated hypothesis tests could result in no strong conflicts between the observed data and the null hypothesis, one would still not state the null has been proved, one would state that they would ...

  21. The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis: How Language Influences How We Express

    The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, also known as linguistic relativity, refers to the idea that the language a person speaks can influence their worldview, thought, and even how they experience and understand the world. While more extreme versions of the hypothesis have largely been discredited, a growing body of research has demonstrated that ...

  22. Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

    Sapir also did pioneering work in language and gender, historical linguistics, psycholinguistics and in the study of a number of native American languages. However, he is best known for his contributions to what later became known as the Whorfian Hypothesis, also known as the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. Sapir maintained that language was "the ...

  23. Gaia hypothesis

    The Gaia hypothesis (/ ˈ ɡ aɪ. ə /), also known as the Gaia theory, Gaia paradigm, or the Gaia principle, proposes that living organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a synergistic and self-regulating, complex system that helps to maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet.. The Gaia hypothesis was formulated by the chemist James Lovelock ...

  24. Empirical studies of the "similarity leads to attraction" hypothesis in

    Although the similarity-attraction hypothesis (SAH) is one of the main theoretical foundations of management and industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology research, systematic reviews of the hypothesis have not been published. An overall review of the existing body of knowledge is therefore warranted as a means of identifying what is known about the hypothesis and also identifying what future ...