What is a Good Hypothesis?Writer's Web
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

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