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The Importance of Hypothesis Testing

importance of hypothesis in research work

How to Calculate Significance

A hypothesis is a theory or proposition set forth as an explanation for the occurrence of some observed phenomenon, asserted either as a provisional conjecture to guide investigation, called a working hypothesis, or accepted as highly probable in lieu of the established facts. A scientific hypothesis can become a theory or ultimately a law of nature if it is proven by repeatable experiments. Hypothesis testing is common in statistics as a method of making decisions using data. In other words, testing a hypothesis is trying to determine if your observation of some phenomenon is likely to have really occurred based on statistics.

Statistical Hypothesis Testing

Statistical hypothesis testing, also called confirmatory data analysis, is often used to decide whether experimental results contain enough information to cast doubt on conventional wisdom. For example, at one time it was thought that people of certain races or color had inferior intelligence compared to Caucasians. A hypothesis was made that intelligence is not based on race or color. People of various races, colors and cultures were given intelligence tests and the data was analyzed. Statistical hypothesis testing then proved that the results were statistically significant in that the similar measurements of intelligence between races are not merely sample error.

Null and Alternative Hypotheses

Before testing for phenomena, you form a hypothesis of what might be happening. Your hypothesis or guess about what’s occurring might be that certain groups are different from each other, or that intelligence is not correlated with skin color, or that some treatment has an effect on an outcome measure, for examples. From this, there are two possibilities: a “null hypothesis” that nothing happened, or there were no differences, or no cause and effect; or that you were correct in your theory, which is labeled the “alternative hypothesis.” In short, when you test a statistical hypothesis, you are trying to see if something happened and are comparing against the possibility that nothing happened. Confusingly, you are trying to disprove that nothing happened. If you disprove that nothing happened, then you can conclude that something happened.

Importance of Hypothesis Testing

According to the San Jose State University Statistics Department, hypothesis testing is one of the most important concepts in statistics because it is how you decide if something really happened, or if certain treatments have positive effects, or if groups differ from each other or if one variable predicts another. In short, you want to proof if your data is statistically significant and unlikely to have occurred by chance alone. In essence then, a hypothesis test is a test of significance.

Possible Conclusions

Once the statistics are collected and you test your hypothesis against the likelihood of chance, you draw your final conclusion. If you reject the null hypothesis, you are claiming that your result is statistically significant and that it did not happen by luck or chance. As such, the outcome proves the alternative hypothesis. If you fail to reject the null hypothesis, you must conclude that you did not find an effect or difference in your study. This method is how many pharmaceutical drugs and medical procedures are tested.

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About the Author

Sirah Dubois is currently a PhD student in food science after having completed her master's degree in nutrition at the University of Alberta. She has worked in private practice as a dietitian in Edmonton, Canada and her nutrition-related articles have appeared in The Edmonton Journal newspaper.

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Forming a Good Hypothesis for Scientific Research

Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

importance of hypothesis in research work

Verywell / Alex Dos Diaz

Formulating a Hypothesis

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

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

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

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

The Hypothesis in the Scientific Method

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elements of a Good Hypothesis

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

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

To form a hypothesis, you should take these steps:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hypothesis Checklist

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

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

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

A few examples of simple hypotheses:

Examples of a complex hypothesis include:

Examples of a null hypothesis include:

Examples of an alternative hypothesis:

Collecting Data on Your Hypothesis

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

Descriptive Research Methods

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

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

Experimental Research Methods

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

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

A Word From Verywell

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

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

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

By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

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importance of hypothesis in research work

What is the importance of hypothesis in research?

importance of hypothesis in research work

A hypothesis forms the base of research that defines the relationship between two or more research variables. The main topic of discussion is defined based on the hypothesis statement that is clear and concise.

Basic characteristics of a hypothesis:

A research hypothesis talks about the possible outcome or result of the experiment. The key concepts and the connection between the statement of problem and literature review are defined using the hypothesis.

It is written in a declarative form, which makes it brief and to the point. Formulate a hypothesis in a testable form so that your readers can understand the core concept of the research.

Steps involved in writing a research paper:

Formulation of question : A research question is clear and concise, and it focuses on the area of concern. It states the problem that the author is trying to solve through the research.

Background research : Analyze research papers published in your field of study. Provide context by sharing your ideas and observations on the related research theories and scientific concepts.

Create a hypothesis : State the expected outcome and define the research variables and establish a link between them.

Reporting data : Use tables and graphs to represent the data by referring to the images and charts correctly. Determine whether you want to use the decimal system or alphanumeric system.

Research findings : Write a result overview and report the research findings. Try to be as specific as possible while summarizing the results.

Before writing the introduction section, ensure that your hypothesis is based on the main topic of research. Double-check the independent and dependent variables and ensure that it can be tested.

What are the different types of research hypothesis?

Research Hypothesis : The research hypothesis also known as the non-parametric hypothesis; it states the nature of the relationship between the research variables. The variables identify possible solutions to the main problem statement.  As the data is not represented in quantitative form, the research hypothesis is not tested by statistical methods.

Null hypothesis : This hypothesis simply establishes that no statistical importance in a set of data exists. It proves that no variation exists between two or more variables.

Alternative hypothesis : This hypothesis is the opposite of the null hypothesis. If the null hypothesis is rejected, then you can use the alternative hypothesis to complete the experiment.

Various functions of the research hypothesis:

Hypothesis testing:

State the hypothesis : Identify the hypothesis that needs to be tested? Which type of hypothesis are you working on? Is it an alternative hypothesis or null hypothesis?

Plan : How do you plan to utilize the sample data? What methods are you going to use for testing the hypothesis?

Analyze : Perform sample analysis to test your hypothesis. Compare two different sets of data you have received before and after the sample selection.

Acceptance/Rejection : Evaluate the results by subjecting the hypothesis to tests. You can determine whether or not the hypothesis is valid based on the test results.

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Understanding the importance of a research hypothesis

A research hypothesis is a specification of a testable prediction about what a researcher expects as the outcome of the study. It comprises certain aspects such as the population, variables, and the relationship between the variables. It states the specific role of the position of individual elements through empirical verification. When conducting research, there are certain assumptions that are made by the researcher. According to the available information, the goal is to present the expected outcome after testing them.

A hypothesis should be precise and accurate

A hypothesis is a clear statement of the information that the researcher intends to investigate. It is thus a clear statement that is essential before conducting research.

Aspects identified by the hypothesis in a thesis

Based on this aspect, the features of the hypothesis are listed below:

Figure 2: Features of Hypothesis

1. Conceptual

The statement of the hypothesis is based on a certain concept i.e. it could be either related to the theory or the pre-assumption of the researcher about certain variables i.e. educated guess. This leads to linking the research questions of the study. It helps the collection of data and conducting analysis as per the stated concept.

People who shop at speciality stores tend to spend more on luxury brands as compared to those who shop at a department store.

2. Verbal statement

The research hypothesis represents a verbal statement in declarative form. The hypothesis is often stated in mathematical form. However, it brings in the possibility of representing the idea, assumption, or concept of the researcher in the form of words that could be tested.

The capability of students who are undergoing vocational training programs is not different from the students undergoing regular studies.

3. Empirical reference

By building a tentative relationship among concepts, hypothesis testing provides an empirical verification of a study. It helps validate the assumption of the researcher.

The quality of nursing education affects the quality of nursing practice skills.

4. Tentative relationship

It links the variables as per assumption and builds a tentative relationship. A hypothesis is initially unverified, therefore the relationship between variables is uncertain. Thus a predictable relationship is specified.

Sleep deprivation affects the productivity of an individual.

5. Tool of knowledge advancement

With help of a hypothesis statement, the researcher has the opportunity of verifying the available knowledge and having further enquiry about a concept. Thus, it helps the advancement of knowledge.

The effectiveness of social awareness programs influences the living standards of people.

The hypothesis statement provides the benefit of assessing the available information and making the appropriate prediction about the future. With the possibility of verifiability and identifying falsifiable information, researchers assess their assumptions and determine accurate conclusions.

People who are exposed to a high level of ultraviolet light tend to have a higher incidence of cancer.

7. Not moral

The hypothesis statement is not based on the consideration of moral values or ethics. It is as per the beliefs or assumptions of the researcher. However, testing and prediction are not entirely based on individual moral beliefs. For example, people having sample moral values would take the same strategy for business management. In this case, it is not the desired objective to study the business management strategy.

Neither too specific nor too general

A hypothesis should not be too general or too specific.

‘Actions of an individual would impact the health’ is too general, and ‘running would improve your health’ is too specific. Thus, the hypothesis for the above study is exercise does have an impact on the health of people.

Prediction of consequences

The hypothesis is the statement of the researcher’s assumption. Thus, it helps in predicting the ultimate outcome of the thesis.

Experience leads to better air traffic control management.

Even if the assumption of the researcher is proven false in testing, the result derived from the examination is valuable. With the presence of null and alternative hypotheses, each assessment of the hypothesis yields a valuable conclusion.

Separating irrelevant information from relevant information

 A hypothesis plays a significant role ineffectiveness of a study. It not only navigates the researcher but also prevents the researcher from building an inconclusive study. By guiding as light in the entire thesis, the hypothesis contributes to suggesting and testing the theories along with describing the legal or social phenomenon.

Importance of Hypothesis

Navigate research

A hypothesis helps in identifying the areas that should be focused on for solving the research problem. It helps frame the concepts of study in a meaningful and effective manner. It also helps the researcher arrive at a conclusion for the study based on organized empirical data examination.

Prevents blind research

A hypothesis guides the researcher in the processes that need to be followed throughout the study. It prevents the researcher from collecting massive data and doing blind research which would prove irrelevant.

A platform for investigating activities

By examining conceptual and factual elements related to the problem of a thesis, the hypothesis provides a framework for drawing effective conclusions. It also helps stimulate further studies.

Describes a phenomenon

Each time a hypothesis is tested, more information about the concerned phenomenon is made available. Empirical support via hypothesis testing helps analyse aspects that were unexplored earlier.

Framing accurate research hypothesis statements

For the deduction of accurate and reliable outcomes from the analysis, belong stated things should be noted:

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    Research generates assumptions, possibilities and predictions about the knowledge variable (Anupama, 2018). It also identifies the problems and solutions that can be verified and offers...

  2. The Importance of Hypothesis Testing

    A hypothesis is a theory or proposition set forth as an explanation for the occurrence of some observed phenomenon, asserted either as a provisional conjecture to guide investigation, called a working hypothesis, or accepted as highly probable in lieu of the established facts.

  3. What is the importance of hypothesis in research?

    Various functions of the research hypothesis: To test theories and concepts To confirm or disconfirm theories To identify the right methodology or tools To provide a general framework To discover new prospects of the research topic

  4. Understanding the importance of a research hypothesis

    Separating irrelevant information from relevant information Navigate research. A hypothesis helps in identifying the areas that should be focused on for solving the research... Prevents blind research. A hypothesis guides the researcher in the processes that need to be followed throughout the... A ...