What is a Good Hypothesis?
By Daniel Palazzolo, Ph.D. and Dave Roberts, UR Writing Consultant
(printable version here)
A good hypothesis has the following three characteristics:
- It is theoretically
grounded: it is based upon literature relevant to the topic.
- It specifies the
relationship between the values of two or more variables. This includes
both the connection and tendency, i.e. frequency of church attendance
is negatively associated with voting for Democratic politicians.
- It makes a testable
comparison using empirical data. This means that the data collected
can disprove the hypothesis. For instance, it is possible in the previous
example for frequency of church attendance is in fact positively associated
with voting for Democratic politicians.
Examples of Bad
Hypotheses (Pollard, p. 33):
1. In comparing
individuals, some people are more likely to donate money to political
candidates than other people.
2. Highly religious people vote at higher rates.
3. In comparing individuals, gender and abortion attitudes are related.
4. Because of important cultural changes that began in the 1960s, many
current political conflicts are based on generational differences