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❶The hypothesis is generated via a number of means, but is usually the result of a process of inductive reasoning where observations lead to the formation of a theory. A theory , in contrast, is a principle that has been formed as an attempt to explain things that have already been substantiated by data.

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HYPOTHESIS Defined for English Language Learners
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Scientists generally base scientific hypotheses on previous observations that cannot satisfactorily be explained with the available scientific theories. Even though the words "hypothesis" and " theory " are often used synonymously, a scientific hypothesis is not the same as a scientific theory. A working hypothesis is a provisionally accepted hypothesis proposed for further research , [1] in a process beginning with an educated guess or thought. A different meaning of the term hypothesis is used in formal logic , to denote the antecedent of a proposition ; thus in the proposition "If P , then Q ", P denotes the hypothesis or antecedent ; Q can be called a consequent.

P is the assumption in a possibly counterfactual What If question. The adjective hypothetical , meaning "having the nature of a hypothesis", or "being assumed to exist as an immediate consequence of a hypothesis", can refer to any of these meanings of the term "hypothesis".

In its ancient usage, hypothesis referred to a summary of the plot of a classical drama. In Plato 's Meno 86e—87b , Socrates dissects virtue with a method used by mathematicians, [3] that of "investigating from a hypothesis.

In common usage in the 21st century, a hypothesis refers to a provisional idea whose merit requires evaluation. For proper evaluation, the framer of a hypothesis needs to define specifics in operational terms. A hypothesis requires more work by the researcher in order to either confirm or disprove it.

In due course, a confirmed hypothesis may become part of a theory or occasionally may grow to become a theory itself. Normally, scientific hypotheses have the form of a mathematical model. In entrepreneurial science, a hypothesis is used to formulate provisional ideas within a business setting. The formulated hypothesis is then evaluated where either the hypothesis is proven to be "true" or "false" through a verifiability - or falsifiability -oriented experiment.

Any useful hypothesis will enable predictions by reasoning including deductive reasoning. It might predict the outcome of an experiment in a laboratory setting or the observation of a phenomenon in nature. The prediction may also invoke statistics and only talk about probabilities. Karl Popper , following others, has argued that a hypothesis must be falsifiable , and that one cannot regard a proposition or theory as scientific if it does not admit the possibility of being shown false.

Other philosophers of science have rejected the criterion of falsifiability or supplemented it with other criteria, such as verifiability e. The scientific method involves experimentation, to test the ability of some hypothesis to adequately answer the question under investigation. In contrast, unfettered observation is not as likely to raise unexplained issues or open questions in science, as would the formulation of a crucial experiment to test the hypothesis.

A thought experiment might also be used to test the hypothesis as well. In framing a hypothesis, the investigator must not currently know the outcome of a test or that it remains reasonably under continuing investigation.

Only in such cases does the experiment, test or study potentially increase the probability of showing the truth of a hypothesis. If one cannot assess the predictions by observation or by experience , the hypothesis needs to be tested by others providing observations. For example, a new technology or theory might make the necessary experiments feasible.

People refer to a trial solution to a problem as a hypothesis, often called an " educated guess " [12] [2] because it provides a suggested outcome based on the evidence. However, some scientists reject the term "educated guess" as incorrect.

Experimenters may test and reject several hypotheses before solving the problem. According to Schick and Vaughn, [13] researchers weighing up alternative hypotheses may take into consideration:.

A working hypothesis is a hypothesis that is provisionally accepted as a basis for further research [14] in the hope that a tenable theory will be produced, even if the hypothesis ultimately fails. Working hypotheses are often used as a conceptual framework in qualitative research.

The provisional nature of working hypotheses make them useful as an organizing device in applied research. Here they act like a useful guide to address problems that are still in a formative phase. In recent years, philosophers of science have tried to integrate the various approaches to evaluating hypotheses, and the scientific method in general, to form a more complete system that integrates the individual concerns of each approach.

Notably, Imre Lakatos and Paul Feyerabend , Karl Popper's colleague and student, respectively, have produced novel attempts at such a synthesis. Concepts in Hempel's deductive-nomological model play a key role in the development and testing of hypotheses. Most formal hypotheses connect concepts by specifying the expected relationships between propositions. When a set of hypotheses are grouped together they become a type of conceptual framework. When a conceptual framework is complex and incorporates causality or explanation it is generally referred to as a theory.

According to noted philosopher of science Carl Gustav Hempel "An adequate empirical interpretation turns a theoretical system into a testable theory: The hypothesis whose constituent terms have been interpreted become capable of test by reference to observable phenomena. Frequently the interpreted hypothesis will be derivative hypotheses of the theory; but their confirmation or disconfirmation by empirical data will then immediately strengthen or weaken also the primitive hypotheses from which they were derived.

Hempel provides a useful metaphor that describes the relationship between a conceptual framework and the framework as it is observed and perhaps tested interpreted framework.

These might be viewed as strings which are not part of the network but link certain points of the latter with specific places in the plane of observation. By virtue of those interpretative connections, the network can function as a scientific theory. In "actual scientific practice the process of framing a theoretical structure and of interpreting it are not always sharply separated, since the intended interpretation usually guides the construction of the theoretician.

When a possible correlation or similar relation between phenomena is investigated, such as whether a proposed remedy is effective in treating a disease, the hypothesis that a relation exists cannot be examined the same way one might examine a proposed new law of nature.

A research hypothesis H 1 is the statement created by researchers when they speculate upon the outcome of a research or experiment. Every true experimental design must have this statement at the core of its structure, as the ultimate aim of any experiment. The hypothesis is generated via a number of means, but is usually the result of a process of inductive reasoning where observations lead to the formation of a theory. Scientists then use a large battery of deductive methods to arrive at a hypothesis that is testable , falsifiable and realistic.

The precursor to a hypothesis is a research problem , usually framed as a question. It might ask what, or why, something is happening. For example, we might wonder why the stocks of cod in the North Atlantic are declining. This is too broad as a statement and is not testable by any reasonable scientific means.

It is merely a tentative question arising from literature reviews and intuition. The research hypothesis is a paring down of the problem into something testable and falsifiable. Scientists must generate a realistic and testable hypothesis around which they can build the experiment. Some examples could be:. Over-fishing affects the stocks of cod. If over-fishing is causing a decline in the numbers of Cod, reducing the amount of trawlers will increase cod stocks. These are acceptable statements and they all give the researcher a focus for constructing a research experiment.

Though the other one is perfectly acceptable, an ideal research hypothesis should contain a prediction, which is why the more formal ones are favored. A scientist who becomes fixated on proving a research hypothesis loses their impartiality and credibility.

Statistical tests often uncover trends, but rarely give a clear-cut answer, with other factors often affecting the outcome and influencing the results. Whilst gut instinct and logic tells us that fish stocks are affected by over fishing, it is not necessarily true and the researcher must consider that outcome. Perhaps environmental factors or pollution are causal effects influencing fish stocks.

A hypothesis must be testable , taking into account current knowledge and techniques, and be realistic. If the researcher does not have a multi-million dollar budget then there is no point in generating complicated hypotheses. A hypothesis must be verifiable by statistical and analytical means, to allow a verification or falsification. This means that the research showed that the evidence supported the hypothesis and further research is built upon that.

Be written in clear, concise language. Have both an independent and dependent variable. Be falsifiable — is it possible to prove or disprove the statement? Make a prediction or speculate on an outcome. Be practicable — can you measure the variables in question? Hypothesize about a proposed relationship between two variables, or an intervention into this relationship. Consider the following hypotheses. Are they likely to lead to sound research and conclusions, and if not, how could they be improved?

Adding mica to a plastic compound will decrease its viscosity. Those who drink a cup of green tea daily experience enhanced wellness. Prolonged staring into solar eclipses confers extrasensory powers.

A decline in family values is lowering the marriage rate. Children with insecure attachment style are more likely to engage in political dissent as adults.

This is an ideal hypothesis statement. It is well-phrased, clear, falsifiable and merely by reading it, one gets an idea of the kind of research design it would inspire.


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The research hypothesis is a paring down of the problem into something testable and falsifiable. In the above example, a researcher might speculate that the decline in .

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The hypothesis is a critical part of any scientific exploration. It represents what researchers expect to find in a study or experiment. In some cases, the original hypothesis will be supported and the researchers will find evidence supporting their expectations about the .

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A hypothesis is used in an experiment to define the relationship between two variables. The purpose of a hypothesis is to find the answer to a question. A formalized hypothesis will force us to think about what results we should look for in an experiment. The first variable is called the independent variable. This is the part of the experiment that can be changed and tested. 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.

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Usage: The words hypothesis, law, and theory refer to different kinds of statements, or sets of statements, that scientists make about natural phenomena. A hypothesis is a proposition that attempts to explain a set of facts in a unified way.