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# Statistical Hypothesis Testing

The formal statistical procedure for performing a hypothesis test is to state two
hypotheses and to use an appropriate statistical test to reject one of the hypotheses
and therefore accept (or fail to reject) the other.

The first hypothesis is usually referred to as the Null Hypothesis because it is the
hypothesis of no effect or no difference between the populations of interest. It is
usually given the symbol H0.

## The second hypothesis is usually called the Alternative Hypothesis by statisticians,

but since it is often the hypothesis that the researcher would like to be true, it is
sometimes referred to as the Study Hypothesis or Research Hypothesis. Note,
however, in equivalence trials a researcher would like a new (but perhaps cheaper)
treatment to be as effective as the current treatment, it is the null hypothesis that
the researcher would like to see supported by the data. The Alternative Hypothesis is
usually given the symbol H1 or HA. The Alternative Hypothesis states that there is an
effect or that there is a difference between the populations.

## One-and two-tailed hypotheses

Also referred to as one- and two-sided hypotheses, these refer to the alternative
hypothesis. The alternative hypothesis, referred to above, is a non-directional
alternative hypothesis; it states that there is a difference, with no indication of the
direction of change, eg higher or lower, more or less. This is a non-directional (two-
tailed) alternative hypothesis.

## However, in some instances the researcher may be interested in a change in one

direction only (eg pulse is lower or pain relief is better). The alternative hypothesis in
this case is known as a directional (one-tailed) alternative hypothesis. In this case,
the alternative hypothesis will take the form, for example:
H1: on average, there is a greater pain relief from taking drug A, than not.

Note: the null hypothesis is the same for both directional and non-directional cases.

## The distinction between non-directional and directional hypotheses is important when

interpreting the results of significance tests. In Minitab, the appropriate alternative
hypothesis can be set, but SPSS printouts only show two-tailed probabilities. In the
latter case, the p-value ('2-tail sig') should be halved.

## However, there is some discussion at to whether or not one-tailed tests are

appropriate. See Campbell & Machin (1999) for further discussion