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Formulation of Hypothesis

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Formulation of Hypothesis

The current community of psychologists believe that the best approach to understanding behaviour is to carry out scientific research. By conducting scientific research, the research needs to be observable, valid and reliable. To do this psychological research should follow the scientific method. One of the important steps in scientific research is to create a hypothesis before starting the procedure of the study.

The hypothesis is a predictive, testable statement predicting the outcome and the results the researcher expects to find.

The hypothesis provides a summary of what direction, if any is taken, or non taken at all, the study will take to investigate a theory. In scientific research, there is a criterion that hypotheses need to be met to be regarded as acceptable. If a hypothesis is disregarded, the research may be rejected by the community of psychology researchers.

  • First, we will discuss the importance of hypotheses in research.
  • We will then cover formulating hypotheses in research, including the steps in the formulation of hypotheses in research methodology.
  • We will provide examples of hypotheses in research throughout the explanation.
  • Finally, we will delve into the different types of hypotheses in research.

Importance of hypothesis in research

The purpose of including hypotheses in psychology research is:

  • to provide a summary of what the researcher is and how investigating a theory and what is expected to be found
  • to provide an answer to the research question

When carrying out research the first step that researchers take is to investigate the research area that they are interested in. From this researchers, are required to identify a gap in the literature. Filling the gap essentially means finding what previous work has not been explained yet, investigated to a sufficient degree, or simply expanding or further investigating a theory if doubt is present.

The researcher then forms a research question that the researcher will attempt to answer in their study.

The hypothesis is a predictive statement of what is expected to happen when testing the research question.

The hypothesis can be used for later data analysis. This includes inferential tests such as hypothesis testing and identifying if statistical findings are significant.

Formulation of testable hypotheses, four people with question marks above their heads, StudySmarter A hypothesis helps identify what the research is attempting to study, freepik.com/freepik

Steps in the formulation of hypothesis in research methodology

When carrying out research, researchers have to follow certain steps to formulate testable hypotheses. Overall, the researcher has to consider where the investigation is likely going to go, will it be looking for a difference caused by independent variables? Or will it be more concerned with the correlation between variables?

All researchers will likely complete the following

  • Investigating background research in the area of interest
  • Formulating or investigating a theory
  • Identify how the theory will be tested and what the researcher expects to find based on relevant, previously published scientific works

The above steps are used to formulate testable hypotheses.

Formulation of testable hypotheses

The hypothesis plays an important role in research as it indicates what and how a variable is going to be investigated in the research.

The hypothesis essentially provides a summary of what and how something will be investigated. This is important as it can make sure that the researcher has carefully planned how the research will be done, as the researchers have to follow a set procedure to conduct research.

This is known as the scientific method.

Formulating hypotheses in research

When formulating hypotheses, things that should be considered by researchers are:

  • The hypotheses should be written as predictive statements regarding the nature of the relationship between the IV and DV
    • From the hypothesis, the researcher should be able to predict what they expect to find from the results of the study. The researcher could state that they expect to see a difference or no difference. Occasionally, researchers may theorise what changes are expected to be observed (two-tailed alternative hypothesis).
  • When the hypothesis has no clear direction, it is considered a non-directional hypothesis, predicting there will be a relationship but the research does not specify what type of relationship.
  • When the hypothesis has a clear direction, it is considered a directional hypothesis, predicting the results and the type of relationship they will have.

The data analysis method is called hypothesis testing.

  • Background research - hypotheses should not be based on guesswork. Instead, researchers should use previously published research work to predict what the expected outcome of the study will be
  • The independent variable (IV) should be identified

    IV is what the experimenter manipulates to see if it affects the DV.

  • The dependent variable (DV) should be identified

    DV is the variable that is being measured after the IV has been manipulated or after it changes during the experiment.

  • The variables should be operationalised. This means that the researchers need to define how each variable (both IV and DV) will be measured. For example, memory may be measured using a memory performance test, such as the Mini-Mental Status Examination.

    When a hypothesis is operationalised it is testable which is a requirement of hypotheses in psychological research.

  • The hypotheses need to be falsifiable. Other researchers need to be able to replicate the research using the same variables to see whether they can verify the results. The hypothesis needs to be written in a way that is falsifiable, meaning the hypothesis can be tested using the scientific method to see if it is true

    An example of a non-falsifiable hypothesis is "leprechauns always find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow."

  • The hypotheses should be clear. They are usually only a sentence long and should only consist of the details that have been summarised above. A good hypothesis should not include irrelevant information.

Types of hypotheses in research

There are different types of hypotheses that researchers can propose when carrying out research.

The following research scenario will be used to show examples of each type of hypothesis that the researchers could use.

"A research team was investigating to see if memory performance is affected by depression."

The identified independent variable is the severity of depression scores and the dependent variable is the scores from a memory performance task.

  • The null hypothesis

The null hypothesis predicts that the results will show no or little effect. The null hypothesis is a predictive statement that researchers use when it is thought that the IV will not influence the DV.

  • The alternative hypothesis - This is also known as a non-directional, two-tailed hypothesis.

An alternative hypothesis is a predictive statement that is used when it is thought that the IV will influence the DV.

  • There is another type of alternative hypothesis called the directional hypothesis. A non-directional hypothesis states there is a difference but no direction is given.

    This is also known as a one-tailed test

Formulation of testable hypotheses Directional signs StudySmarterDirectional signs, pointing in two opposite directions, flaticon.com/premium-icon

The directional alternative hypothesis states how the IV will influence the DV, identifying a specific direction, such as if there will be an increase or decrease in the observed results.

Examples of hypotheses in research

Let's consider a few examples of the various types of hypotheses in research.

  • A null hypothesis

There will be no observed difference in scores from a memory performance task between people with high- or low-depressive scores.

  • An alternative hypothesis

There will be an observed difference in scores from a memory performance task between people with high- or low-depressive scores.

  • A directional, alternative hypothesis

People with low depressive scores will perform better in the memory performance task than people who score higher in depressive symptoms.

Formulation of Hypothesis - Key takeaways

  • The current community of psychologists believe that the best approach to understanding behaviour is to carry out scientific research. One of the important steps in scientific research is to create a hypothesis.
  • The hypothesis is a predictive, testable statement concerning the outcome/results the researcher expects to find.
  • Hypotheses are needed in research to provide a summary of what the research is, how to investigate a theory and what is expected to be found, and to provide an answer to the research question so that the hypothesis can be used for later data analysis.
  • There are requirements for the formulation of testable hypotheses. The hypotheses should identify and operationalise the IV and DV. In addition, they should describe the nature of the relationship between the IV and DV.
  • Hypotheses should be testable, falsifiable, clear and predictive statements.
  • There are different types of hypotheses: Null hypothesis, Alternative hypothesis (this is also known as the non-directional, two-tailed hypothesis), and Directional hypothesis (this is also known as the one-tailed hypothesis).

Frequently Asked Questions about Formulation of Hypothesis

The three types of hypotheses are:

  1. Null hypothesis 
  2. Alternative hypothesis 
  3. Directional/non-directional hypothesis 

An example of a null hypothesis in psychology is, there will be no observed difference in scores from a memory performance task between people with high- or low-depressive scores.

All researchers will likely complete the following


  • Investigating background research in the area of interest 
  • Formulating or investigating a theory 
  • Identify how the theory will be tested and what the researcher expects to find based on relevant, previously published scientific works 


The above steps are used to formulate testable hypotheses.

The formulation of a hypothesis in research is when the researcher formulates a predictive statement of what is expected to happen when testing the research question based on background research.

When formulating a null hypothesis the researcher would state a prediction that they expect to see no difference in the dependent variable when the independent variable changes or is manipulated. Whereas, when using an alternative hypothesis then it would be predicted that there will be a change in the dependent variable. The researcher can state in which direction they expect the results to go. 

Final Formulation of Hypothesis Quiz

Question

What type of hypothesis matches the following definition. A predictive statement that researchers use when it is thought that the IV will not influence the DV.

Show answer

Answer

Null hypothesis 

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Question

What type of hypothesis matches the following definition. A hypothesis that states that the IV will influence the DV. But, the hypothesis does not state how the IV will influence the DV. 

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Answer

Alternative hypothesis 

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Question

What type of hypothesis matches the following definition. A hypothesis that states that the IV will influence the DV, and states how it will influence the DV. 

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Answer

Directional, alternative hypothesis 

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Question

Which type of hypothesis is also known as a two-tailed hypothesis? 

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Answer

Alternative hypothesis 

Show question

Question

What type of hypothesis is the following example. There will be no observed difference in scores from a memory performance task between people with high- or low-depressive scores.

Show answer

Answer

Null hypothesis 

Show question

Question

What type of hypothesis is the following example. There will be an observed difference in scores from a memory performance task between people with high- or low-depressive scores.

Show answer

Answer

Alternative hypothesis 

Show question

Question

What type of hypothesis is the following example. People with low depressive scores will perform better in the memory performance task than people who score higher in depressive symptoms.  

Show answer

Answer

Directional, alternative hypothesis 

Show question

Question

What is a hypothesis? 

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Answer

The hypothesis is a predictive, testable statement concerning the outcome/ results the researcher expects to find. 

Show question

Question

What method states that a hypothesis needs to be formulated to produce good research?

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Answer

The scientific method states that researchers need to formulate a good hypothesis before starting the research. 

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Question

What steps do researchers need to take when formulating a testable hypothesis? 

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Answer

All researchers will likely complete the following


  • Investigating background research in the area of interest 
  • Formulating or investigating a theory 
  • Identify how the theory will be tested and what the researcher expects to find based on relevant, previously published scientific works 


The above steps are used to formulate testable hypotheses.

Show question

Question

Why are hypotheses needed in research? 

Show answer

Answer

Hypotheses are needed in research:

  • to provide a summary of what the researcher is and how investigating a theory and what is expected to be found 
  • to provide an answer to the research question
  • so that the hypothesis can be used for later data analysis 

Show question

Question

What type of data analysis may hypotheses be needed for?

Show answer

Answer

Hypotheses are needed when doing inferential tests such as hypothesis testing. In addition, identifying if research findings are statistically significant. 

Show question

Question

What are the requirements of a good hypothesis? 

Show answer

Answer

A good hypothesis should:

  • identify and operationalise the independent and dependent variable
  • be testable 
  • be falsifiable 
  • clear 
  • predictive statements 

Show question

Question

Is the following example a falsifiable hypothesis, "leprechauns always find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow".

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Answer

No 

Show question

Question

Is memory an operationalised variable that could be used in a good hypothesis? 

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Answer

No

Show question

Question

What is an operationalised variable?

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Answer

An operationalised variable is when the researcher describes how a variable (independent or dependent variable) will be measured. The operationalisation of variables also needs to be defined. For example, memory may be operationalised by stating performance in memory tasks such as the Mini-Mental Status Examination. 

Show question

Question

What happens if a hypothesis is regarded as not meeting the standards of scientific research? 

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Answer

If a hypothesis is disregarded, the research may be rejected by the community of psychology researchers. 

Show question

Question

What is a hypothesis predicting? 

Show answer

Answer

The hypothesis predicts the nature of the relationship between the independent and dependent variables. For instance, if the dependent variable changes due to changes/ manipulation of the independent variable. 

Show question

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