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Term Definition

The purpose of a hypothesis is to posit a testable proposition regarding the nature of the relationship between different variables. The criterion of falsification is a crucial element of the definition of a hypothesis. If a statement is formulated in such a way that it could never be shown to be false, then this would be not a hypothesis but rather a postulate. The hypothesis is thus a crucial part of the practice of science.

Definition of a hypothesis

The term hypothesis is an important one in a great deal of research writing. A hypothesis is a testable prediction about the relationship between two or more variables. When conducting an experiment, the idea is to figure out whether one's hypothesis is or is not correct. The experiment has to be set up in such a way that good conclusions can be drawn.

Usage in writing

Here are a couple examples of the term hypothesis being used within actual sentences. 

"It was his hypothesis that if he were to ask out a different girl, then the one he was actually interested in would become jealous, which would then make it easier for him to pursue her in the near future."

"The scientist's enemies argued that what he had really proposed was more of a postulate than a hypothesis, since there would be no way to conduct an experiment that could verify or falsify the idea."

"When asked about what he believed was going to be the consequences of the economic collapse, the scholar qualified his response by saying it was only a hypothesis, and that only time would tell if he was correct."

In case you are still a little confused about the meaning of the term hypothesis, here are a couple rules for your reference

1. A hypothesis is a prediction about how different variables are connected with each other. In principle, it must be possible to set up a controlled situation (i.e. an experiment) that enables a researcher to verify whether the predicted relationship does in fact prevail. 

2. It is important to distinguish the term hypothesis from related terms such as postulate. The defining feature of a hypothesis is that it can be proven or disproven through empirical experimentation. This is the reason, for example, why many people believe that Freudian psychoanalysis is not a science: its hypothesis is not falsifiable. 

The hypothesis - A foundation of science

The concept of hypothesis is fundamental to all of scientific practice. Moreover, scientific practice has likely been going on for a very long time, albeit in a relatively informal way. For example, a child who touches a fire, gets hurt, and decides not to touch the fire again is actually being a scientist of sorts. His hypothesis would be that if he touches the fire, then he will get hurt; and he believes this strongly enough that he has no further inclination to touch the fire. Hypothesis formulation is essentially how people develop expectations about reality and then test whether those expectations are valid. 

The precursor to a research hypothesis is usually a research topic. This is because before a hypothesis can actually be formed for experimental testing, it is necessary to develop at least some background knowledge regarding the subject at hand. For example, before the child can formulate a hypothesis, he must ask the question: "What will happen if I touch the fire?" That is, at least some baseline experience is needed in order to even have a concept of what it would or would not be reasonable to expect.

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Synonyms: hypothesis

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