The term hypothesis , of relatively recent use, gives its name to the second step of the scientific method, and consists of the formulation of an idea that can be tested through experimentation . Once validated or refuted, it contributes to the enrichment of knowledge .


What is a hypothesis?

In the world of science, the scientific method is the set of steps that must be followed to obtain a reliable knowledge of reality. Once we dedicate ourselves to thinking or observing one or several phenomena that we are interested in understanding, the next step is to come up with an idea that can explain them . This operation is known as a hypothesis .

  • Definition
  • Characteristics of a hypothesis
  • Function 
  • Types
  • Parts of a hypothesis
  • How to formulate a hypothesis
  • Verification
  • Importance
  • Examples of hypotheses


In general terms, the hypothesis is an assumption that can be verified through experience. It is the basis for the generation of scientific knowledge , and tries to reflectively approach the description of a situation of interest to the observer.


Characteristics of a hypothesis

There are several types of hypotheses ; However, they all have several characteristics in common, and they are the following:

  • It comes from the observation of something that is real or that can be
  • Must have the ability to be proven
  • Each of its variables must be precise , understandable and sufficiently explained
  • Each of its elements and the link that unites them must be susceptible to observation and measurement.
  • The correlation between its variables must be possible and evident


The function of the hypothesis is to guide the development of scientific knowledge , since its objective is to explain a fact or set of facts . When pursuing the truth, it is deduced from the analysis of what is observed in order to give details about what is known and forecast what is not known until now.


Depending on certain criteria , there are several ways to classify the different types of hypotheses , namely:

  • Null / no relationship: indicates that there is no relationship between the variables raised
  • General / theoretical: they are constituted prior to the study and in a conceptual way, without counting on the measurement of variables. Thus, its origin rests on the generalization of preliminary observations on the object of study
  • Work / operational: is one that seeks to prove the relationship that exists in two or more variables, using the scientific method . This type of hypothesis is divided into three subgroups: attributive, causal and associative.
  • Attributive: describes the events that occur between the variables, explaining real and measurable events
  • Causal: establishes a cause-effect relationship between the variables it contains
  • Associative: allows to specify the relationship between two variables, taking as a starting point for the prediction the value of the first one.
  • Alternative: its function is to offer a different answer to the questioning that is made in the working hypothesis. As well as the working hypothesis, it can be associative, attributive or causal.

Parts of a hypothesis

For an assumption to be considered a hypothesis , it must contain the following elements:

  • Observation units: it is the category that includes people, groups, organizations, etc.
  • Variables: includes the properties that characterize each of the observation units
  • Logical elements: establishes a relationship between the observation units and the variables

How to formulate a hypothesis

There are a series of steps that must be taken to formulate a hypothesis, namely:

  • Group the information obtained from the observation
  • Establish comparisons with the knowledge obtained
  • Propose possible reasoning
  • Choose the reasoning that is most likely to be true
  • Formulate one or more hypotheses


After proposing a hypothesis, the experimentation stage must begin, since it is at that point that it will be validated or refuted.

This step of the scientific method consists of the design of an experiment designed to corroborate the hypothesis. If this is not corroborated, it is considered false and before this, another hypothesis must be built with information obtained from reality to create a correct statement and be able to reach effective results. If confirmed, what is said in it is considered true and the steps required for the generation of knowledge are continued.


The importance of the hypothesis resides in that it represents the link between the observation and one or more theoretical approaches. Thus, it guides scientific research through the indication of the procedures that must be followed when seeking knowledge.

Examples of hypotheses

  • The higher the altitude, the lower the ambient temperature.
  • Modern cars consume 15% more energy than those of the 90’s
  • The more stable a political system, the more conservative its rulers will be
  • Autotrophic nutrition processes involve photosynthesis
  • As social unrest increases in a country, the rate of suicide and mental illness will increase
  • Marijuana use is 4 times more common in adolescence than in adulthood.

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