How To Develop a Hypothesis (With Elements, Types and Examples)

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

Want to know how to write a hypothesis for your academic paper? Below we explain the different types of hypotheses, what a good hypothesis requires, the steps to write your own, and plenty of examples.

How to Write Hypothesis in Research
  1. Predicts the relationship and outcome.
  2. Simple and concise – avoid wordiness.
  3. Clear with no ambiguity or assumptions about the readers’ knowledge.
  4. Observable and testable results.
  5. Relevant and specific to the research question or problem.

6 Steps to Formulate a STRONG Hypothesis | Scribbr

Elements in a hypothesis

A hypothesis is built with specific elements in mind, including:

Prediction

The most important element in a hypothesis is the prediction. It is the statement that will be tested and either proved or disproved. While most hypotheses follow the format of “if/then” statements, it is also acceptable to write a simple declarative statement like “Drinking coffee in the morning will improve an employees productivity.

Variables

A variable is any characteristic that can have different values such as height, age, temperature or test scores. A simple hypothesis statement, such as drinking coffee in the morning improves productivity, involves one independent variable—the cause—and one dependent variable—the effect. Testing confirms whether the two have a relationship. In this example, the independent variable is drinking coffee and the dependent variable is the productivity of employees who drink it.

Group being studied

The final element of a hypothesis is the subject or group you want to study in your experiments and observations. In the coffee hypothesis, for example, you are studying employees who drink coffee. When deciding who or what your subjects will be, keep in mind that you can revise your hypothesis to be as specific or general as you would like based on the group you can actually experiment with.

What is a hypothesis?

A hypothesis is an educated guess or conclusion based on something you have witnessed. A complete hypothesis considers multiple aspects of observation and calls for facts, direct testing and evidence to either prove or disprove your conclusion.

Hypotheses are typically written as “if/then” statements. For example: If she is late to work, then traffic must be busy. The hypothesis assumes a certain cause for being late and provides a basis for further research and experimentation. While the statement reads like a fact, there is more to learn before being able to say with confidence that its true.

Here are some if/then hypotheses:

Even if you disprove a hypothesis, you can learn from all the information that writing and testing a hypothesis offers, such as why it was incorrect and how you can make a new prediction based on the results.

How to develop a hypothesis

While there are varying types of hypotheses, every hypothesis is formed similarly. Use these steps to develop a hypothesis:

1. Make an observation

All hypotheses begin with an observation. Start by recognizing a pattern or noticing the effect of a certain stimulus and identifying what that information might mean. This step establishes the background knowledge that you will base the hypothesis on.

For example, if you notice the break room vending machine frequently runs out of a specific snack, you might predict that more people in the office pick that snack over another.

2. Ask a question

After identifying the subject of your hypothesis, the next step is to define the question that your hypothesis will try to answer. This question needs to be specific enough to have a logical result and also be testable within your abilities. Once you ask the question, you can then make a prediction that potentially answers it, which serves as the preliminary statement of your hypothesis.

For example, after noticing a trend in your coworkers’ break times, you might ask, “why do more take breaks in the morning rather than in the afternoon?

3. Conduct some initial research

While your initial answer to the question should be based on what is already known about the topic, you may need more information. Additional details might arise that you did not consider beforehand. By doing some research before writing your hypothesis, you can avoid making assumptions that earlier experiments have already disproved and ensure your hypothesis is original.

For example, you might write a hypothesis that employees work faster when the office is at a lower temperature. When you do your initial research, you find that previously conducted experiment finds this hypothesis untrue.

4. Formulate your hypothesis

After collecting background information and making a prediction based on your question, plan a statement that lays out your variables, subjects and predicted outcome. Whether you write it as an “if/then” or declarative statement, your hypothesis should include the prediction to be tested.

Once you have incorporated all the elements—prediction, variables and study group—into your hypothesis, you are ready to conduct an experiment and test your hypothesis to determine whether it is true or false.

To devise and perform an experiment, you need to make sure the hypothesis is testable. To be testable, some essential criteria must be met:

5. Write a null hypothesis

After you’ve developed your initial hypothesis, it is important to restate it as a null hypothesis, so that you can test it mathematically. A null hypothesis is an additional prediction that says there is no relationship between the two variables being tested.

For example, “Drinking coffee in the morning will improve an employees productivity” is your initial hypothesis. “Coffee does not affect employee productivity” is the null hypothesis.

7 main types of hypotheses and examples

Depending on what you expect to find, your hypothesis will fall into one or more of seven main categories. Keep in mind that the same hypothesis might qualify as several different types.

1. Simple hypothesis

A simple statement hypothesis states that your prediction is true about the relationship between two variables: one independent and one dependent. The experiment will either confirm or deny the statement. Here are a few simple statement hypotheses:

2. Complex hypothesis

A complex hypothesis states a relationship between more than two variables. For example, there might two independent variables and one dependent or vice versa. Here are some examples of complex hypotheses:

3. Null hypothesis

A null hypothesis claims that the original hypothesis is false by showing no relationship between the variables. Here are some examples of null hypotheses:

4. Alternative hypothesis

An alternative hypothesis is used in conjunction with a null hypothesis. It states the opposite of the null hypothesis, so only one must be true. Here are some examples of alternative hypotheses:

5. Logical hypothesis

A logical hypothesis states a relationship between variables based on reasoning or deduction but no actual evidence. Here are some examples of logical hypotheses:

6. Empirical hypothesis

An empirical hypothesis, also known as a “working hypothesis,” is one that is currently being tested. Unlike a logical hypothesis, it is based on concrete data. Here are some examples of empirical hypotheses:

7. Statistical hypothesis

A statistical hypothesis tests a sample of a group and then applies statistical data to draw a conclusion about the entire group. You test only a portion of the group and generalize the rest based on pre-existing data. Here are some examples of statistical hypotheses:

FAQ

What is an example of a hypothesis?

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.

How do you start a hypothesis sentence?

How to Formulate an Effective Research Hypothesis
  1. State the problem that you are trying to solve. Make sure that the hypothesis clearly defines the topic and the focus of the experiment.
  2. Try to write the hypothesis as an if-then statement. …
  3. Define the variables.

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