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Aims and Hypotheses

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Aims and Hypotheses

There is no research without a proper aim and hypotheses aims and hypotheses in research are the supporting frameworks on a path to new scientific discoveries. To better understand their importance, let us first analyse the difference between aims and hypotheses in psychology, examine their purpose, and give some examples.

The aim is a summary of the goal or purpose of the research.

The hypothesis is a predictive, testable statement about what the researcher expects to find in the study.

What is the difference between aims and hypotheses in psychology?

When you write a research report, you should state the aim first and then the hypothesis. So, in a sense, the hypothesis narrows down the aim and states specifically and precisely what the expected outcome is.

Purpose of the research aims

The purpose of research aims are as follows:

  • Provide an overview of the research objective.

  • Describe why the research is needed and how it complements existing research in the field.

  • Readers can then identify the research topic and whether it is of interest to them.

The research aimed to examine the effects of sleep deprivation on test performance.

Purpose of the research hypotheses

What information do hypotheses provide?

  • They identify the variables to be studied.

  • They describe what results are expected in terms of the effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable.

The hypothesis was that the less sleep a student gets (independent variable), the worse grades a student will achieve (dependent variable).

The purpose of research hypotheses are:

  • Typically, researchers use hypotheses for statistical tests such as hypothesis testing, which allows them to determine if the original predictions are correct.

  • The reader can then quickly identify the variables, the expected results based on previous research, and how the experiment should measure these variables.

  • Hypotheses usually influence the research design and analysis used in conducting the research.

What are hypotheses?

As mentioned earlier, hypotheses are predictive, testable statements about what the researcher expects to find in their results. Psychological research must meet a standard for the psychological research community to accept it. An essential component of research is the hypothesis, which must also meet the requirements of the scientific community.

Components of hypotheses

When writing research hypotheses, there are several essential things to consider, including:

  • Hypotheses must be clear and concise.

    • A hypothesis must be easy to understand and not contain irrelevant details.

  • The researcher must predict what they expect to find based on reading previous research findings.

    • The researcher must explain how they arrived at their predictions, citing evidence from prior research.

  • The researcher must identify all variables they study.

    • One study examined how sleep deprivation affects performance on cognitive tests. The hypothesis was to identify a sleeping time as the independent variable and cognitive test scores as the dependent variable.

  • The research must operationalise the hypotheses.

    • The researcher must describe how they will measure the variables.

    • When assessing cognitive abilities, the researcher should indicate how they will assess the cognitive skills. They could do so with a cognitive test, such as the Mini-Mental Status Examination scores.

Types of hypotheses

There are two types of hypotheses: null and alternative hypotheses.

Null hypothesis: The independent variable does not influence the dependent variable.

Research scenario: Investigation of how test results affect sleep.

  • Example of null hypothesis: there is no difference in recorded sleep time (dependent variable) between students who received good and poor grades (independent variable).

Alternative hypothesis: The independent variable has an effect on the dependent variable.

Research scenario: Investigating how sleep deprivation affects performance on cognitive tests.

  • Example of an alternative hypothesis: The less sleep students get (independent variable), the worse their performance will be on cognitive tests (dependent variable). Students who were not sleep-deprived will perform better on the Mini-Mental Status Examination test than sleep-deprived students.

The alternative hypothesis could be:

  • Directional: One-tailed (predicts exactly the independent variable's effect on the dependent variable) as in the example above.

  • Non-directional: Two-sided hypothesis (predicts that the independent variable will have an effect on the dependent variable, but not sure how large that effect will be).

Two-sided hypothesis: There will be a significant difference in sleep deprivation on cognitive tests.

Note that it only predicts that there will be a significant difference, but not exactly what that difference will be.

Aims and Hypotheses - Key takeaways

  • The aim is a summary of the goal or purpose of the research.
  • For the scientific psychological community to accept the aim, the objective must explain why the research is needed and how it will expand our current knowledge of the research area.
  • The hypothesis is a predictive, testable statement about what the researcher expects to find in the study.
  • There are several types of hypotheses:
    • Null hypothesis: The independent variable has no effect on the dependent variable.
    • Alternative hypothesis: The independent variable has an effect on the dependent variable.
  • For the scientific community of psychologists to accept a hypothesis, it must identify all variables, which researchers must operationalise.

Frequently Asked Questions about Aims and Hypotheses

Researchers should summarise the research goal and purpose in a straightforward statement when writing aims. Moreover, researchers need to ensure that it is a predictive and testable statement when writing a hypothesis. This process should summarise the expected results of the study. 

Researchers should write the aims first and then the hypothesis when writing research. 

The three types of hypotheses are:

  • Null hypothesis.
  • Alternative hypothesis.
  • Directional alternative hypothesis (one-tailed) or non-directional (two-tailed).

An aim in psychology is a summary statement of the research's goal or purpose.

Hypotheses differ from aims and objectives because aims are a general statement of the research's goals and purposes. In contrast, hypotheses explain precisely the predicted findings in terms of the independent and dependent variables. 

Final Aims and Hypotheses Quiz

Question

What is the definition of aims?

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Answer

The aim is a summary of the goal or purpose of the research.

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Question

What is the definition of a hypothesis? 

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Answer

The hypothesis is a predictive, testable statement of what the researcher expects to find in the study.

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Question

What is the purpose of research aims?

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Answer

The purpose of research aims are: 

  • provide a summary of what the research goal is 
  • describe why the research is needed and how it adds to existing research in the field
  • so that the readers can identify what the research topic is and of interest to them

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Question

How are hypotheses different from aims?

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Answer

Hypotheses differ from aims because they are statements of the goals and purposes of the research. In contrast, hypotheses are predictive statements concerning expected results. 

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Question

What are the different types of hypotheses?

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Answer

The types of hypotheses are:

  • Null hypothesis.
  • Alternative hypothesis.
  • Directional alternative hypothesis (one-tailed) or non-directional (two-tailed).

Show question

Question

What type of hypothesis is the following statement: ‘There will be a difference between Mini-Mental Status Examination scores in students who were and were not sleep-deprived’?  

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Answer

Null hypothesis.

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Question

What type of hypothesis is the following statement: ‘There will be no difference in time recorded sleeping between students who received good and poor grades in their school report’?

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Answer

Null hypothesis.

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Question

What type of hypothesis is this statement ‘Students who were not sleep-deprived will have higher scores in the Mini-Mental Status Examination test in comparison to students who were sleep-deprived’?

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Answer

Null hypothesis.

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Question

What happens when the research paper does not cover all the elements of aims and hypotheses?

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Answer

The scientific, psychology community may not accept the paper.

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Question

What are the components the hypotheses have to include? 

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Answer

The key components of the hypothesis are:


  • Identifying all of the variables being measured.
  • Operationalising variables.
  • Predicting the outcome of their research.

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Question

What do operationalising variables mean?

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Answer

Operationalising variables refer to the researcher describing how they are going to measure variables.

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Question

What is a null hypothesis?

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Answer

A null hypothesis is when the researcher predicts no observed difference between the characteristics they measure of the target population or stimuli after experimentation.

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Question

What is an alternative directional hypothesis? 

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Answer

An alternative directional hypothesis is when the researcher predicts a positive or negative relationship or difference between the variables investigated.

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Question

What is an alternative hypothesis?

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Answer

An alternative hypothesis is when the researcher predicts an observed difference between the characteristics they measure of the target population or stimuli after experimentation. 

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Question

Which of the following would researchers use when they wish to predict the direction of the results they expect to find?

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Answer

Null hypothesis.

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