How to write a hypothesis

How to write a hypothesis

A hypothesis is a statement that can be proven by scientific research. It proves the theory of action and reaction, i.e., if I act, then there is an expected outcome for that action. This is the most basic principle of any scientific work or project. Built on the information, data and facts gathered, a hypothesis showcases your expectations of an experiment.

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In this article, we will go over how to write a hypothesis, its different types, and ways on how to write one. Having the proper structure of writing a hypothesis makes it very easy to create one.

Hypothesis Definition

A hypothesis is a proposed statement made based on the reason that is subject to more investigation. A primary research question is modeled into a rational prediction based on existing facts and proofs. Sometimes you may need to write different hypotheses to answer different aspects of your research question.

To find a solution to a certain problem one should ascertain the research problem/question, do some preliminary research, and start to find the research answers by conducting experiments and noting the outcomes. Before experimenting, the scientist must try to predict the expected outcome.

Some academic papers may require you to create a hypothesis. Hypothesis-based methods are mainly used in scientific abstract works, dissertations, theses, and research papers.

Characteristics of a good hypothesis

Since we have established what a hypothesis is. Let us find out what characteristics a good hypothesis must possess;

  • A hypothesis needs to be expounded in ordinary language while still maintaining its meaning
  • It must allow for further research and experiments
  • For a relational hypothesis, include variables and define the relationship amongst them
  • It has to be definite
  • Must contain power of prediction
  • It should have close contact with observable objects

Sources of a hypothesis

  • The resemblance among diverse phenomena
  • Observations from earlier studies and present-day experiences
  • Common patterns that influence people’s thinking
  • Scientific theories

Types of hypothesis

Two broad categories of hypotheses exist, that is: alternative and null.

Alternative hypothesis

An alternative hypothesis is denoted as H1. This hypothesis statement depicts the most probable conclusion of your investigation. We can further classify this type of hypothesis into:


It shows the researcher’s commitment to a particular outcome. This sort of hypothesis makes a study of the correlation between variables rather than make a comparison.


It is a statement that a relationship exists between two variables without predicting the exact course of the probable outcomes from the relationship.

Examples of directional and non-directional hypothesis;

  • Directional – Attending additional piano lessons will significantly improve a learner’s piano skill
  • Non-directional – Attending more piano lessons will influence the piano skills of a learner

Null hypothesis

how to write a hypothesis

This type of hypothesis is normally denoted as H0. It is a statement that states a contradiction of the expected outcome of your research or study. Hence, it is contradictory to your substitute hypothesis. It is a negative statement depicting no relationship between the dependent and independent variables.

You will note that these two types of hypotheses offer specific interpretations and reiterations of the study. A hypothesis summarizes the context, scope, and direction of the study.

The alternative and null hypotheses are the major ones. However, there are a few more types;

Simple hypothesis

It indicates a relationship between an independent variable and a dependent variable. For example, consuming junk food leads to obesity.

Complex hypothesis

A statement used that expresses the relationship between two or more independent variables and two or more dependent variables. For example, consumption of junk food and lack of exercise leads to obesity, heart disease, and general body fatigue.

Associative and casual hypothesis

The former hypothesis arises when there is a change in one variable resulting in a change in another variable. A casual hypothesis proposes a domino effect on the relationship between variables.

Empirical hypothesis

Also known as a working hypothesis, it is most applicable when a theory is put to test, using observation or an experiment. For example, hungry parrots find their way out of a cage faster if the food is outside the cage.

Formulating a hypothesis

An appropriate hypothesis format has to combine a few elements that come in handy to create a valid hypothesis. Researchers might build a hypothesis from a certain theory or existing research.  The formulation of a hypothesis requires you to ask yourself the following questions;

  1. Is your hypothesis based on a research topic?
  2. Can your hypothesis be tested?
  • Does your hypothesis consist of dependent and independent variables?

Do some background research before coming up with a specific hypothesis. Once you are done with your literature review, ruminate over some of the questions you might still have.

To easily learn how to make a hypothesis, you should take the following steps;

  1. Pull together as many observations about a topic or problem as you can
  2. Assess the observations and find out possible causes for the problem
  • Make a list of possible explanations that you might want to follow up on
  1. After developing some possible hypotheses, come up with ways of disproving or confirming each hypothesis through experimentation

How to write a hypothesis

Now that we properly defined the term hypothesis in the earlier sections of this article. We will move forward and look at how to write an actual hypothesis. This where the rubber hits the road. We will need to include the tips learned in formulating a hypothesis to be able to write one:

1.   Ensure your research question is defined

A proper project or research undertaking should always commence with enquiring a precise research question. A flawless research question needs to maintain clarity, focus, specificity, and convenience. 

2.   Conduct your initial research

It is already apparent; a hypothesis is an educated guess of the predictable result and outcome of an analysis. Hence, it is important to collect all the information you can on the said supposition.

At this point, the answer to the research question under interrogation should be based on previous discoveries. Create a logical and educated guess from findings in facts, past studies, existing theories, etc.

3.   Formulate a hypothesis

From your initial research, there should be an idea of the findings to expect throughout your research. Develop a clear and brief hypothesis, from this information.

4.   Polish your hypothesis

The last step of making a decent hypothesis is refining your hypothesis. During this stage, ensure that your hypothesis:

  • Contains distinct and definite variables;
  • Pinpoints the correlation between variables;
  • Is precise and examinable;
  • Suggests an expected result of the research or experiment.

Hypothesis examples

how to write a hypothesis guide

From all the information given so far in this article, you ought to be capable of easily creating a hypothesis. Below is a list of research questions each answered by a hypothesis and a null hypothesis.

Research Question Hypothesis Null-hypothesis
What effect on the attention span of a teenager does the daily use of social media have? The correlation between the attention span of a teenager and the use of social media is that of negative effects. There is no correlation between attention span in teenagers and social media use.
How is productivity in the workplace influenced by employees’ work-life balance? Higher productivity is demonstrated by employees who have a better work-life balance compared to those who do not. There is no correlation between productivity in the workplace and work-life balance.
Which airlines have the greatest number of delays? Low-cost airlines are more likely to have delays than premium airlines. Low-cost and premium airlines are likely to have delays.
How is the brain affected by playing video games? A person’s brain, memory, and vision can be negatively affected by playing video games. A person’s brain is not affected by playing video games.
Is high school sex education effective in reducing teen pregnancies? Teenagers who have sex education throughout high school will have lower rates of unplanned pregnancy than teenagers who did not receive any sex education. High school sex education has no effect on reduction of teen pregnancies.

The relationship between hypothesis and prediction

People often use the terms hypothesis and prediction interchangeably. However we need to explore the question, what is the relationship between hypothesis and prediction.

A hypothesis is an explanation for why a specific event is happening. Scientists use the scientific method when creating and testing a hypothesis through experimentation.

A prediction is a guess just like a hypothesis. However, a prediction is an estimation made from observations. A prediction is a statement that tells what will happen in the future.

Hypothesis vs prediction

Let us have a breakdown of the difference between hypothesis and prediction in a simple table;

Term Hypothesis Prediction
Definition Explanation of phenomena An event that will occur in the future if the phenomena is true
What it does Explains why something happens Forecasts future events
How it’s written Statement with variables It is an if, then statement
Example Employees that are happier in their positions work harder If the employees are happier, then the workplace will be productive

Hypotheses could come in different forms from simple hypothesis to statistical hypothesis, the independent and dependent variables to be tested are always defined. Scientifically, a prediction is an expectation of an outcome of your experiment. This would be the easiest way to properly define what a prediction vs. hypothesis entails.

Hypothesis vs theory

Theory and hypothesis can be mistakenly used interchangeably. In scientific terms, these two words have completely different meanings. A scientific theory is an explanation for natural occurrences or scientific irregularities generally accepted and supported by data.

The purpose of a theory is to establish a universal principle that clarifies certain phenomena.  Theories could be used to make predictions about unknown aspects of the natural world. However, a theory is not a prediction.

Examples of well-known theories include;

  • The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection – explains the survival of organisms in their environment by Charles Darwin
  • The Heliocentric Theory – explains the revolution of the earth around the sun by Nicolaus Copernicus
  • The Theory of General Relativity – explains the geometric theory of gravitation by Albert Einstein
  • The Big Bang Theory – the theory claims that the universe started as a small singularity 13.8 billion years ago and expanded suddenly

Differences between hypothesis and theory

A hypothesis is made as an educated guess that relies on observation or experimentation after the proposition of a certain prediction. A hypothesis may be proven true or false from the outcomes of an experiment.

A theory on the other hand is an obtained and validated explanation of certain phenomena. Theories rely on tested and corroborated data, and the theories are agreed upon to be true. Theories are however impeachable.

Hypothesis vs assumption

Since we have continuously explained what a hypothesis is, let us jump right in into defining an assumption. An assumption is a statement that is accepted to be true without any proof. An assumption is tested implicitly while a hypothesis is tested explicitly by an experiment.

A hypothesis does not become a theory until it is proved and verified. Anything taken for granted (not proven) is an assumption. A hypothesis is hence at its best a working assumption.

It is imperative to know the difference between hypothesis vs prediction, hypothesis vs theory, and hypothesis vs assumption. This is one of the keys to know how to write a good hypothesis.

In summary

As a student, you will be required to create hypotheses, especially for scientific research and projects. Asking the ‘right questions’ is an invaluable skill for anyone working in the field of science. To get a really good grasp on how to write a good hypothesis, remember; the characteristics of a good hypothesis, the different types of hypotheses, and the formulation of a hypothesis. If you are still stuck on how to write a hypothesis, seek professional help by clicking  here.

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