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Hypotheses Development

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Once we have identified the important variables in a situation and established the

relationships among them through logical reasoning in the theoretical framework,

we are in a position to test whether the relationships that have been theorized do

in fact hold true. By testing these relationships scientifically through appropriate

statistical analyses, or through negative case analysis in qualitative research, we

are able to obtain reliable information on what kinds of relationships exist among

the variables operating in the problem situation. The results of these tests offer

us some clues as to what could be changed in the situation to solve the problem.

Formulating such testable statements is called hypotheses development.

Definition of Hypothesis

A hypothesis can be defined as a logically conjectured relationship between two

or more variables expressed in the form of a testable statement. Relationships

are conjectured on the basis of the network of associations established in the

theoretical framework formulated for the research study. By testing the

hypotheses and confirming the conjectured relationships, it is expected that

solutions can be found to correct the problem encountered.

Example

framework formulated in Example: One of them could be as follows:

situations, air-safely violations will be reduced.

the various pilots and the number of safety violations committed by them over a

period of time, we can statistically examine the relationship between these two

variables to see if there is a significant negative correlation between the two, we

do find this to be the cast, then the hypotheses is substantiated. That is, giving

more training to pilots in handling crowded space in midair will reduce safety

violations. If a significant negative correlation is not found, then the hypotheses

would not have been substantiated. By convention in the social sciences, to call

a relationship “statistically significant,” we should be confident that 95 times out

of 100 the observed relationship will hold true. There would be only a 5% chance

that the relationship would not be detected.

If-Then Statements

As already stated, a hypothesis is a testable statement of the relationship among

variables. A hypothesis can also test whether there are differences between two

groups (or among several groups) with respect to any variable or variables. To

examine whether or not the conjectured relationships or differences exist, these

hypotheses can be set either as propositions or in the form of if—then

statements. The two formats can be seen in the following two examples.

Example: Employees who are healthier will take sick leave less frequently.

Example: If employees are healthier, then they will take sick leave less

frequently.

If, in stating the relationship between two variables or comparing two groups

terms such as positive, negative, more than, less than, and the like are used,

then these hypotheses are directional because the direction of the relationship

between the variables (positive/negative) is indicated, as in Example below or the

nature of the difference between two groups on a variable (more than/less than)

is postulated, as in examples:..

Example: The greater the stress experienced in the job, the lower the job

satisfaction of employees,

relationship or difference, but offer no indication of the direction of these

relationships or differences. In other words, though it may be conjectured that

these would be a significant relationship between two variables, we may not be

able to say whether the relationship would be positive or negative, as in

Example. Likewise, even If we can conjecture that there will be differences

between two groups on a particular variable, we will not be able to say which

groups are more and which less on that variable, as In Examples

and Asian employees.

differences have never been previously explored or hence there is no basis for

indicating the direction, or because there have been conflicting findings’ in

previous research studies on the variables. In some studies a positive

relationship might have been found, while in others a negative relationship might

have been traced. Hence, the current researcher might only be able to

hypothesize that there would be a significant relationship, but, the direction may

not be clear. In such cases, the hypotheses could be stated non-directionally.

Null and Alternate Hypotheses

The null hypothesis is a proposition that states a definitive, exact relationship

between two variables. That is, it states that the population correlation between

two variables is equal to zero or that the difference in the means of two groups in

the population is equal to zero (or some definite number). In general, the null

statement is expressed as no (significant) relationship between two variables or

no (significant) difference between two groups, as we will see in the various

examples in this note. The alternate hypothesis, which is the opposite of the null,

is a statement expressing a relationship between two variables or Indicating

differences between groups.

To explain it further, in setting up the null hypothesis, we are stating that there Is

no difference between what we might find In the population characteristics (i.e.,

the total group we are interested in knowing something about) and the sample

we are studying (i.e., a limited number representative of the total population or

group that we have chosen to study), Since we do not know the true state of

affairs In the population, all we can do is to draw Inferences based on what we

find in our sample. What we imply through the null hypothesis. that any

differences found between two sample groups or any relationship found between

two variables based on our sample Is simply due to random sampling fluctuations

and not due to any “true” differences between the two population groups (say,

men and women), or relationships between two variables (say, sales and profits).

The null hypothesis is thus formulated so that it can be tested for possible

rejection. If we reject the null hypothesis, then all permissible alternative

hypotheses relating to the particular relationship tested could be supported. It is

the theory that allows us to have faith in the alternative hypothesis that is

generated in the particular research investigation.

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