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Definition of Hypothesis

(noun) A proposed and testable explanation between two or more variables that predicts an outcome or explains a phenomenon.

Examples of Hypothesis

  • “I think the more time students spend studying prior to a test the higher their grade will be.”
    • Note: The variables are the students, the time spent studying, and the test grades. To test the hypothesis, collect information from each student about how much time they spent studying prior to the test and compare that to the the testing outcomes.
  • Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

Types of Hypothesis

Hypothesis Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: hy·poth·e·sis

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /hie-pAHth-uh-suhs/
  • British English – /hie-pOth-i-sis/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /haɪˈpɑθəsəs/
  • British English – /hʌɪˈpɒθᵻsᵻs/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: hypotheses
  • A hypothesis must have the capacity to be disconfirmed or proven false to have meaning. For example, “criminals” commit more crimes than “non-criminals” cannot be proven wrong.
  • A hypothesis can either come from theory (deduction) or lead to theory (induction).
  • A working hypothesis refers to a hypothesis that has not been thoroughly tested and verified.
  • Hypothesis testing is the process of testing a hypothesis in a scientific manner that requires a link between the concepts or variables under investigation and rigorous testing methodology.
  • An (noun) hypothesist (verb) hypothesizes (adverb) hypothetically about social issues to create an (adjective) hypothetical explanation.

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Additional Information

Related Terms

Contributor: C. E. Seaman

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Cite the Definition of Hypothesis

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Seaman, C. E. 2015. “hypothesis.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary, edited by Kenton Bell. Retrieved July 13, 2020 (https://sociologydictionary.org/hypothesis/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

Seaman, C. E. (2015). hypothesis. In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/hypothesis/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Seaman, C. E. 2015. “hypothesis.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary, edited by Kenton Bell. Accessed July 13, 2020. https://sociologydictionary.org/hypothesis/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

Seaman, C. E. “hypothesis.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2015. Web. 13 Jul. 2020. <https://sociologydictionary.org/hypothesis/>.