How to Write a Hypothesis

What is a Hypothesis?

A research hypothesis is an assumption made by a researcher based on existing knowledge. To explain it further, it is a statement that interprets the original research question into a logical or reasonable prediction developed in regard to available evidence and facts. To resolve a certain problem, you have to first identify the research question, perform initial research, and aim to answer the provided research question by carrying out experiments and monitoring their outcomes. But, before you start your experiments, you should first identify what you hope to find in the results. At this point, the scientist makes an educated guess and develops a hypothesis that he is going to prove or disprove in the course of their study.

A hypothesis can also be termed as a form of development of knowledge. It is a strong assumption presented to elucidate the causes and properties of the phenomena under study. As a standard rule, a research hypothesis is formed in consideration of various examples and observations that prove it. This makes it look plausible since it is supported by known information. The researcher subsequently proves a hypothesis by turning it into a reputable or refuted fact, allowing it to classify it in the category of false statements.

As a student, sometimes you are asked to develop a hypothesis statement in your academic essays. Hypothesis-based approaches are common in scientific research works, such as dissertations, theses, and research papers.

Characteristics of a Good Hypothesis

An excellent hypothesis has the following characteristics:

Prediction Power

One of the most distinct attributes of an excellent research hypothesis is the ability to predict for future. It clears the current problematic situation and predicts what will happen in the coming time. Therefore, a hypothesis is an excellent guide of research activity because of its power of prediction.

Close to Observable Things

A hypothesis should be in close contact with observable things. There cannot be a formulation of hypothesis in research for the things or objects you cannot observe. To verify a hypothesis, there has to be observable things.


A good research hypothesis should be simple with no complexity. It should be dabble to every layman.


A hypothesis should be conceptually clear. It be must be free of ambiguous information and the terminology used acceptable and clear to everyone.


You should be able to empirically test a good hypothesis. It should be formulated and stated after verification and observation. Therefore, testability is the main feature of an excellent hypothesis.

Relevance to the Problem

A good research hypothesis should be relevant to a specific problem. It is guidance for the recognition and solution to the problem, so it should be in accordance to the problem.


A hypothesis should be prepared for a specific and particular problem. There should be no generalization as it makes a hypothesis not to reach the right conclusions.

Relevance to the Available Techniques

The hypothesis should be relevant to techniques available for testing. As a researcher, you must be aware of workable techniques before formulation of hypothesis in research.

Productive for New Discoveries

A hypothesis should provide new ideas and ways of knowledge. It has to develop new discoveries of knowledge.

Harmony and Consistency

Consistency and internal harmony is a key feature of a good research hypothesis. It should be devoid of conflicts and contradictions. A close relation between variables must exist where one variable is dependent on another.

Types of Hypothesis in Research

There are six types of hypothesis:

  • Associative and causal hypothesis
  • Complex hypothesis
  • Directional hypothesis
  • Non-directional hypothesis
  • Null hypothesis
  • Simple hypothesis

Associative and Causal Hypothesis

This happens when a change occurs in one variable leading to a change in the other variable. Hence, causal hypothesis presents a cause and effect interaction between variables.

Complex Hypothesis

This is a hypothesis that shows the association between one or more dependent variables or more than two independent variables. Eating more fruits and vegetables makes one lose weight, promotes glowing skin, and reduces risks of many diseases such as some cancers, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Directional Hypothesis

A directional hypothesis demonstrates how a researcher is intellectual and devoted to a certain outcome. The nature of a hypothesis can also be predicted the relationship between its variables.

Non-Directional Hypothesis

This is hypothesis used when no theory is involved. It is a declaration that there is a relationship between two variables, devoid of predicting the actual nature of the relationship.

Null Hypothesis

A null hypothesis provides a statement that is contrary to the hypothesis. Basically, it is a negative declaration with no relationship between dependent and independent variables. It is denoted by the symbol “HO”.

Simple Hypothesis

A simple hypothesis demonstrates the relationship between one dependent variable and one independent variable. For instance, you will lose weight rapidly if you eat more vegetables. Here, losing weight is a dependent variable while eating more vegetables is an independent variable.

Hypothesis vs. Prediction

When talking of hypothesis, the term ‘prediction’ will often crop up. The two terms are at most times used interchangeably, which only confuses the students. Although both prediction and hypothesis can be defined as ‘guesses’, they are actually distinct. But, there is a major difference between the two in that a hypothesis is predominantly used in science, while prediction is mostly used outside of science.

To put it simply, a hypothesis is a clever assumption. It is a presumption made regarding the character of the unknown phenomena in consideration of existing studies, knowledge, or series of experiments, is therefore based on valid facts.  The key function of a hypothesis is to use accessible facts to develop a logical relationship among variables to provide a more accurate scientific explanation. Furthermore, hypothesis is a declaration that is testable with further experiments. It is a supposition you make in regard to the flow and outcome of the research study.

On the other hand, a prediction is a guess without solid grounding. Although a prediction can be scientific in theory, it is rather fictional, in most cases, that is, a guess that is not founded on existing facts or knowledge. As a standard rule, predictions are associated to forecasting events that may or may not happen in the future. Frequently, an individual who predicts has little or no real knowledge of the subject in question he is making assumptions about.

Another notable difference between research hypothesis and prediction is the method used to prove them. You can only prove a prediction once by determining whether it is correct or not correct if the predicted occurs or not. On the other hand, a hypothesis, offers a range for further experiments and testing. Additionally, you can prove a hypothesis in multiple stages. This typically means that a hypothesis can be proved or disproved many times by various scientists using different scientific methods and tools.

Can You Prove A Hypothesis?

After analyzing the results, there can be a rejection or support of an alternative hypothesis, but it cannot be proven to be true. As a researcher, you must avoid any references to results validating a theory as this means 100% certainty. This cannot be as there is always a chance of finding evidence that can refute a theory.

How to Write a Research Hypothesis

Now that you understand what a hypothesis is, its various types and how it differs from a prediction, you can now start writing your hypothesis. Here, we provide guidelines through the major stages of writing an excellent research hypothesis.

1. Ask a Research Question

Writing a hypothesis starts with presenting the research question you aim to answer. The research question should be specific, focused, and researchable within the limits of your project.

2. Gather Preliminary Research

It is now time to collect your data. You can obtain data from academic journals or case studies, as well as carry out experiments and observations. Remember that it is essential to research your question from all angles without being deterred by conflicting research. As you collect background information, you will sometimes come across discouraging materials. But, that should not invalidate your hypothesis as you can use the information as rebuttal and structure your study in a manner to tackle the concerns. For instance, when researching the question, “how does sleep impact motivation?’, you might come across studies with contradicting research about six hours vs. Eight hours of sleep. You can use the contradicting information as a guide to crate your hypothesis.

3. Formulate a Hypothesis

Since you now have an idea of what to expect, you can now formulate your hypothesis.  Write an initial answer to the research question in a clear and brief manner. A good hypothesis should contain relevant variables, predicted results/outcome, and what or who is being studied. Remember that the hypothesis should be a statement, instead of a question. It is a prediction, proposal or an idea.

4. Refine the Hypothesis

You need to ensure that your hypothesis is testable and specific. You can phrase a hypothesis in various ways, but ensure that all the terms used are clear in definition. The hypothesis should have:

  • Relevant variables
  • The particular group being studied
  • The predicted result of the analysis or experiment

5. Create a Null Hypothesis

Depending on the research you are undertaking, statistical analysis may be required for the collected data. When developing a hypothesis statement using a scientific method, it is crucial to establish the difference that exists between a null hypothesis and the alternative hypothesis. You should also know how to form a null hypothesis.

  • A null hypothesis, mostly denoted as H0, claims that is no obvious difference or that no evidence exists to sustain a difference.
  • An alternative hypothesis, denoted as H1, claims that is a statistical significant difference, or evidence exists to sustain such a difference.

Operational Definitions

A variable is an element or factor that can be manipulated and changed in ways that are measurable and observable. But, the researcher should also define how the variable will be measured and manipulated in the study.

For instance, a researcher can operationally a variable such as ‘test anxiety’ as the result of a self-report anxiety measure experienced when taking an exam. A “study habits” variable can be defined by the level of studying that happens as measured by time.

These accurate descriptions are vital as many things can be measured in various ways. One of the fundamental principles of any scientific research is replication of results. By out rightly detailing the particulars of how the variables were manipulated and measured, other researchers can understand the results better and replicate the study if necessary.

It is more difficult to define some variables. How would ‘aggression’ be operationally defined? For apparent ethical reasons, researchers cannot create a situation where a person is aggressive towards another person. To measure this variable, he must develop an assessment that evaluates aggressive behaviour without hurting other people. In this case,  a researcher can use a simulated task in measuring aggressiveness.

Gathering Data on your Hypothesis

Once the researcher forms a testable hypothesis, he should then select a research design and begin data collection. The research method largely depends on what they are studying. Research methods are in two types: experimental research and descriptive research.

Experimental Research Methods

Experimental methods illustrate causal relationships between variables. When experimenting, the researcher systematically manipulates an independent variable and measures its effect on another variable (dependent variable).

Unlike correlational studies that are used to determine the relationship between two variables, the actual type of the relationship can be determined through experimental methods. It will establish if changes in one variable cause a change in the other variable.

Descriptive Research Methods

Descriptive research contains things like surveys, naturalistic observations, and case studies. It is used when it is difficult or impossible to carry out an experiment. The methods best describe various aspects of a psychological phenomenon or behaviour.

After a researcher collects data using descriptive methods, he can then use a correlational study to establish a relationship between variables. You can use descriptive research to investigate a hypothesis that cannot be tested experimentally.

Hypothesis in Qualitative Studies

These studies serve a different purpose from that served in quantitative studies. Qualitative studies are inductive in nature, which leads to a non-generation of the hypothesis at the beginning of the study. Alternatively, hypothesis is tentatively proposed in an iterative process of collecting and interpreting data, and guides the researcher in posing extra questions and looking for disconfirming evidence.

Qualitative research is guided by central subquestions and questions asked by the researcher when starting a qualitative study. The questions take on the language of what and how in a bid to enable an understanding to emerge out of the research. This is done instead of asking why as it tends to mean that the researcher already has a belief about the causal mechanism. Generally, a qualitative study has one or two central questions and a string of five to ten subquestions that advance the central questions. The questions are directly posed to study participants, in the form of focus groups or interviews. This is in recognition that developing a comprehension of a certain phenomenon is a shared experience between participants and researchers.

Hypothesis in Quantitative Studies

Research hypothesis in a quantitative study takes the form of one dependent variable and one independent variable, and a declaration of the expected link between the two variables. In general, the researcher first mentions the independent variable followed by language indicating causality (in terms such as results in, explains) followed by the dependent variable. Please note that the ordering of variables needs to be consistent across all hypotheses in the study so as not to confuse the reader about the proposed causal ordering. When the two variables are naturally continuous, you can use a language to describe a positive or negative relationship between variables.  For hypothesis with categorical variables, the researcher can make a declaration about the category of independent variable related to a particular category of a dependent variable.  Also, continuous variables can be talked about in categorical terms.

Most researchers choose to present hypothesis in research in a directional format, which means that some declaration is opined about the expected relationship in consideration of general observation, past research, examination of existing theory, or even an educated guess. It is also fitting to apply the null hypothesis instead, which simply states that there is no relationship between variables. Remember that the null hypothesis forms the foundation of all statistical tests of significance. A concession position is to present a hypothesis in research which states a probable direction for the relationship. However, it softens the causal argument by applying knowledge such as “in general” or “tends to”.

Ask Professionals to help Write your Hypothesis

Sometimes, students find it difficult to cope with the many academic papers assigned. Papers such as dissertations and research papers can take too much effort and time to write, and often, writing a hypothesis is an important step in starting the task.  Although it may seem easy, writing a hypothesis is not a walk in the park. But, if you need help forming or writing the entire research paper, we are ready to come to your rescue. If you feel stuck or lack sufficient time to do other tasks, make a ‘write my essay’ request and we’ll be glad to help.

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