Formulation of Hypothesis

Children who spend more time playing outside are more likely to be imaginative. What do you think this statement is an example of in terms of scientific research? If you guessed a hypothesis, then you'd be correct. The formulation of hypotheses is a fundamental step in psychology research.

Formulation of Hypothesis Formulation of Hypothesis

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Contents
Table of contents
    • 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.

    What is a Hypothesis?

    The current community of psychologists believe that the best approach to understanding behaviour is to conduct scientific research. To be classed as scientific research, it must be observable, valid, reliable and follow a standardised procedure.

    One of the important steps in scientific research is to formulate a hypothesis before starting the study procedure.

    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 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.

    Importance of Hypothesis in Research

    The purpose of including hypotheses in psychology research is:

    • To provide a summary of the research, how it will be investigated, and what is expected to be found.
    • To provide an answer to the research question.

    When carrying out research, researchers first investigate the research area 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 exists.

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

    Remember, 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 Fig .1. A hypothesis helps identify what the research is attempting to study.

    Steps in the Formulation of Hypothesis in Research Methodology

    Researchers must follow certain steps to formulate testable hypotheses when conducting research.

    Overall, the researcher has to consider the direction of the research, i.e. 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.

    The Formulation of Testable Hypotheses

    The hypothesis is important in research as it indicates what and how a variable will be investigated.

    The hypothesis essentially summarises what and how something will be investigated. This is important as it ensures 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 researchers should consider are:

    Hypothesis RequirementDescription
    It should be written as predictive statements regarding the relationship between the IV and DV.The researcher should be able to predict what they expect to find from the study results. The researcher could state that they expect to see a difference. Occasionally, researchers may theorise what changes are expected to be observed (two-tailed alternative hypothesis).
    It should be formulated based on background research.Hypotheses should not be based on guesswork. Instead, researchers should use previously published research to predict the study's expected outcome.
    Identify the IV. IV is what the experimenter manipulates to see if it affects the DV.
    Identify the DV.DV is the variable being measured after the IV has been manipulated or after it changes during the experiment.
    The variables should be operationalised. The researchers must define how each variable (IV and DV) will be measured. For example, memory may be measured using a performance test, such as the Mini-Mental Status Examination. When a hypothesis is operationalised, it is testable.
    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 it 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. Hypotheses are usually only a sentence long and should only include the details summarised above. A good hypothesis should not include irrelevant information.

    Types of Hypotheses in Research

    Researchers can propose different types of hypotheses when carrying out research.

    The following research scenario will be discussed to show examples of each type of hypothesis that the researchers could use. "A research team was investigating whether 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 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.

    In this case, the null hypothesis would be there will be no difference in memory scores on the MMSE test of those who are diagnosed with depression and those who are not.

    An alternative hypothesis is a predictive statement used when it is thought that the IV will influence the DV. The alternative hypothesis is also called a non-directional, two-tailed hypothesis, as it predicts the results can go either way, e.g. increase or decrease.

    The example in this scenario is there will be an observed difference in scores from a memory performance task between people with high- or low-depressive scores.

    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.

    The example in this scenario is people with low depressive scores will perform better in the memory performance task than people who score higher in depressive symptoms.

    Example Hypothesis in Research

    To summarise, let's look at an example of a straightforward hypothesis that indicates the relationship between two variables: the independent and the dependent.

    If you stay up late, you will feel tired the following day; the more caffeine you drink, the harder you find it to fall asleep, or the more sunlight plants get, the taller they will grow.

    Formulation of Hypothesis - Key Takeaways

    • The current community of psychologists believe that the best approach to understanding behaviour is to conduct 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 that 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.
    • 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

    What are the 3 types of hypotheses?

    The three types of hypotheses are:

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

    What is an example of a hypothesis in psychology?

    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.

    What are the steps in formulating a hypothesis?

    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.

    What is formulation of hypothesis in research? 

    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.

    How to formulate  null and alternative hypothesis?

    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. 

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    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.

    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. 

    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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