## What is The Null Hypothesis & When Do You Reject The Null Hypothesis

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A null hypothesis is a statistical concept suggesting no significant difference or relationship between measured variables. It’s the default assumption unless empirical evidence proves otherwise.

The null hypothesis states no relationship exists between the two variables being studied (i.e., one variable does not affect the other).

The null hypothesis is the statement that a researcher or an investigator wants to disprove.

Testing the null hypothesis can tell you whether your results are due to the effects of manipulating the dependent variable or due to random chance.

## How to Write a Null Hypothesis

Null hypotheses (H0) start as research questions that the investigator rephrases as statements indicating no effect or relationship between the independent and dependent variables.

It is a default position that your research aims to challenge or confirm.

## For example, if studying the impact of exercise on weight loss, your null hypothesis might be:

There is no significant difference in weight loss between individuals who exercise daily and those who do not.

## Examples of Null Hypotheses

When do we reject the null hypothesis .

We reject the null hypothesis when the data provide strong enough evidence to conclude that it is likely incorrect. This often occurs when the p-value (probability of observing the data given the null hypothesis is true) is below a predetermined significance level.

If the collected data does not meet the expectation of the null hypothesis, a researcher can conclude that the data lacks sufficient evidence to back up the null hypothesis, and thus the null hypothesis is rejected.

Rejecting the null hypothesis means that a relationship does exist between a set of variables and the effect is statistically significant ( p > 0.05).

If the data collected from the random sample is not statistically significance , then the null hypothesis will be accepted, and the researchers can conclude that there is no relationship between the variables.

You need to perform a statistical test on your data in order to evaluate how consistent it is with the null hypothesis. A p-value is one statistical measurement used to validate a hypothesis against observed data.

Calculating the p-value is a critical part of null-hypothesis significance testing because it quantifies how strongly the sample data contradicts the null hypothesis.

The level of statistical significance is often expressed as a p -value between 0 and 1. The smaller the p-value, the stronger the evidence that you should reject the null hypothesis.

Usually, a researcher uses a confidence level of 95% or 99% (p-value of 0.05 or 0.01) as general guidelines to decide if you should reject or keep the null.

When your p-value is less than or equal to your significance level, you reject the null hypothesis.

In other words, smaller p-values are taken as stronger evidence against the null hypothesis. Conversely, when the p-value is greater than your significance level, you fail to reject the null hypothesis.

In this case, the sample data provides insufficient data to conclude that the effect exists in the population.

Because you can never know with complete certainty whether there is an effect in the population, your inferences about a population will sometimes be incorrect.

When you incorrectly reject the null hypothesis, it’s called a type I error. When you incorrectly fail to reject it, it’s called a type II error.

## Why Do We Never Accept The Null Hypothesis?

The reason we do not say “accept the null” is because we are always assuming the null hypothesis is true and then conducting a study to see if there is evidence against it. And, even if we don’t find evidence against it, a null hypothesis is not accepted.

A lack of evidence only means that you haven’t proven that something exists. It does not prove that something doesn’t exist.

It is risky to conclude that the null hypothesis is true merely because we did not find evidence to reject it. It is always possible that researchers elsewhere have disproved the null hypothesis, so we cannot accept it as true, but instead, we state that we failed to reject the null.

One can either reject the null hypothesis, or fail to reject it, but can never accept it.

## Why Do We Use The Null Hypothesis?

We can never prove with 100% certainty that a hypothesis is true; We can only collect evidence that supports a theory. However, testing a hypothesis can set the stage for rejecting or accepting this hypothesis within a certain confidence level.

The null hypothesis is useful because it can tell us whether the results of our study are due to random chance or the manipulation of a variable (with a certain level of confidence).

A null hypothesis is rejected if the measured data is significantly unlikely to have occurred and a null hypothesis is accepted if the observed outcome is consistent with the position held by the null hypothesis.

Rejecting the null hypothesis sets the stage for further experimentation to see if a relationship between two variables exists.

Hypothesis testing is a critical part of the scientific method as it helps decide whether the results of a research study support a particular theory about a given population. Hypothesis testing is a systematic way of backing up researchers’ predictions with statistical analysis.

It helps provide sufficient statistical evidence that either favors or rejects a certain hypothesis about the population parameter.

## Purpose of a Null Hypothesis

- The primary purpose of the null hypothesis is to disprove an assumption.
- Whether rejected or accepted, the null hypothesis can help further progress a theory in many scientific cases.
- A null hypothesis can be used to ascertain how consistent the outcomes of multiple studies are.

## Do you always need both a Null Hypothesis and an Alternative Hypothesis?

The null (H0) and alternative (Ha or H1) hypotheses are two competing claims that describe the effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable. They are mutually exclusive, which means that only one of the two hypotheses can be true.

While the null hypothesis states that there is no effect in the population, an alternative hypothesis states that there is statistical significance between two variables.

The goal of hypothesis testing is to make inferences about a population based on a sample. In order to undertake hypothesis testing, you must express your research hypothesis as a null and alternative hypothesis. Both hypotheses are required to cover every possible outcome of the study.

## What is the difference between a null hypothesis and an alternative hypothesis?

The alternative hypothesis is the complement to the null hypothesis. The null hypothesis states that there is no effect or no relationship between variables, while the alternative hypothesis claims that there is an effect or relationship in the population.

It is the claim that you expect or hope will be true. The null hypothesis and the alternative hypothesis are always mutually exclusive, meaning that only one can be true at a time.

## What are some problems with the null hypothesis?

One major problem with the null hypothesis is that researchers typically will assume that accepting the null is a failure of the experiment. However, accepting or rejecting any hypothesis is a positive result. Even if the null is not refuted, the researchers will still learn something new.

## Why can a null hypothesis not be accepted?

We can either reject or fail to reject a null hypothesis, but never accept it. If your test fails to detect an effect, this is not proof that the effect doesn’t exist. It just means that your sample did not have enough evidence to conclude that it exists.

We can’t accept a null hypothesis because a lack of evidence does not prove something that does not exist. Instead, we fail to reject it.

Failing to reject the null indicates that the sample did not provide sufficient enough evidence to conclude that an effect exists.

If the p-value is greater than the significance level, then you fail to reject the null hypothesis.

## Is a null hypothesis directional or non-directional?

A hypothesis test can either contain an alternative directional hypothesis or a non-directional alternative hypothesis. A directional hypothesis is one that contains the less than (“<“) or greater than (“>”) sign.

A nondirectional hypothesis contains the not equal sign (“≠”). However, a null hypothesis is neither directional nor non-directional.

A null hypothesis is a prediction that there will be no change, relationship, or difference between two variables.

The directional hypothesis or nondirectional hypothesis would then be considered alternative hypotheses to the null hypothesis.

Gill, J. (1999). The insignificance of null hypothesis significance testing. Political research quarterly , 52 (3), 647-674.

Krueger, J. (2001). Null hypothesis significance testing: On the survival of a flawed method. American Psychologist , 56 (1), 16.

Masson, M. E. (2011). A tutorial on a practical Bayesian alternative to null-hypothesis significance testing. Behavior research methods , 43 , 679-690.

Nickerson, R. S. (2000). Null hypothesis significance testing: a review of an old and continuing controversy. Psychological methods , 5 (2), 241.

Rozeboom, W. W. (1960). The fallacy of the null-hypothesis significance test. Psychological bulletin , 57 (5), 416.

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## When Do You Reject the Null Hypothesis? (3 Examples)

A hypothesis test is a formal statistical test we use to reject or fail to reject a statistical hypothesis.

We always use the following steps to perform a hypothesis test:

Step 1: State the null and alternative hypotheses.

The null hypothesis , denoted as H 0 , is the hypothesis that the sample data occurs purely from chance.

The alternative hypothesis , denoted as H A , is the hypothesis that the sample data is influenced by some non-random cause.

2. Determine a significance level to use.

Decide on a significance level. Common choices are .01, .05, and .1.

3. Calculate the test statistic and p-value.

Use the sample data to calculate a test statistic and a corresponding p-value .

4. Reject or fail to reject the null hypothesis.

If the p-value is less than the significance level, then you reject the null hypothesis.

If the p-value is not less than the significance level, then you fail to reject the null hypothesis.

You can use the following clever line to remember this rule:

“If the p is low, the null must go.”

In other words, if the p-value is low enough then we must reject the null hypothesis.

The following examples show when to reject (or fail to reject) the null hypothesis for the most common types of hypothesis tests.

## Example 1: One Sample t-test

A one sample t-test is used to test whether or not the mean of a population is equal to some value.

For example, suppose we want to know whether or not the mean weight of a certain species of turtle is equal to 310 pounds.

We go out and collect a simple random sample of 40 turtles with the following information:

- Sample size n = 40
- Sample mean weight x = 300
- Sample standard deviation s = 18.5

We can use the following steps to perform a one sample t-test:

Step 1: State the Null and Alternative Hypotheses

We will perform the one sample t-test with the following hypotheses:

- H 0 : μ = 310 (population mean is equal to 310 pounds)
- H A : μ ≠ 310 (population mean is not equal to 310 pounds)

We will choose to use a significance level of 0.05 .

We can plug in the numbers for the sample size, sample mean, and sample standard deviation into this One Sample t-test Calculator to calculate the test statistic and p-value:

- t test statistic: -3.4187
- two-tailed p-value: 0.0015

Since the p-value (0.0015) is less than the significance level (0.05) we reject the null hypothesis .

We conclude that there is sufficient evidence to say that the mean weight of turtles in this population is not equal to 310 pounds.

## Example 2: Two Sample t-test

A two sample t-test is used to test whether or not two population means are equal.

For example, suppose we want to know whether or not the mean weight between two different species of turtles is equal.

We go out and collect a simple random sample from each population with the following information:

- Sample size n 1 = 40
- Sample mean weight x 1 = 300
- Sample standard deviation s 1 = 18.5
- Sample size n 2 = 38
- Sample mean weight x 2 = 305
- Sample standard deviation s 2 = 16.7

We can use the following steps to perform a two sample t-test:

We will perform the two sample t-test with the following hypotheses:

- H 0 : μ 1 = μ 2 (the two population means are equal)
- H 1 : μ 1 ≠ μ 2 (the two population means are not equal)

We will choose to use a significance level of 0.10 .

We can plug in the numbers for the sample sizes, sample means, and sample standard deviations into this Two Sample t-test Calculator to calculate the test statistic and p-value:

- t test statistic: -1.2508
- two-tailed p-value: 0.2149

Since the p-value (0.2149) is not less than the significance level (0.10) we fail to reject the null hypothesis .

We do not have sufficient evidence to say that the mean weight of turtles between these two populations is different.

## Example 3: Paired Samples t-test

A paired samples t-test is used to compare the means of two samples when each observation in one sample can be paired with an observation in the other sample.

For example, suppose we want to know whether or not a certain training program is able to increase the max vertical jump of college basketball players.

To test this, we may recruit a simple random sample of 20 college basketball players and measure each of their max vertical jumps. Then, we may have each player use the training program for one month and then measure their max vertical jump again at the end of the month:

We can use the following steps to perform a paired samples t-test:

We will perform the paired samples t-test with the following hypotheses:

- H 0 : μ before = μ after (the two population means are equal)
- H 1 : μ before ≠ μ after (the two population means are not equal)

We will choose to use a significance level of 0.01 .

We can plug in the raw data for each sample into this Paired Samples t-test Calculator to calculate the test statistic and p-value:

- t test statistic: -3.226
- two-tailed p-value: 0.0045

Since the p-value (0.0045) is less than the significance level (0.01) we reject the null hypothesis .

We have sufficient evidence to say that the mean vertical jump before and after participating in the training program is not equal.

## Bonus: Decision Rule Calculator

You can use this decision rule calculator to automatically determine whether you should reject or fail to reject a null hypothesis for a hypothesis test based on the value of the test statistic.

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## Hypothesis Testing (cont...)

Hypothesis testing, the null and alternative hypothesis.

In order to undertake hypothesis testing you need to express your research hypothesis as a null and alternative hypothesis. The null hypothesis and alternative hypothesis are statements regarding the differences or effects that occur in the population. You will use your sample to test which statement (i.e., the null hypothesis or alternative hypothesis) is most likely (although technically, you test the evidence against the null hypothesis). So, with respect to our teaching example, the null and alternative hypothesis will reflect statements about all statistics students on graduate management courses.

The null hypothesis is essentially the "devil's advocate" position. That is, it assumes that whatever you are trying to prove did not happen ( hint: it usually states that something equals zero). For example, the two different teaching methods did not result in different exam performances (i.e., zero difference). Another example might be that there is no relationship between anxiety and athletic performance (i.e., the slope is zero). The alternative hypothesis states the opposite and is usually the hypothesis you are trying to prove (e.g., the two different teaching methods did result in different exam performances). Initially, you can state these hypotheses in more general terms (e.g., using terms like "effect", "relationship", etc.), as shown below for the teaching methods example:

Depending on how you want to "summarize" the exam performances will determine how you might want to write a more specific null and alternative hypothesis. For example, you could compare the mean exam performance of each group (i.e., the "seminar" group and the "lectures-only" group). This is what we will demonstrate here, but other options include comparing the distributions , medians , amongst other things. As such, we can state:

Now that you have identified the null and alternative hypotheses, you need to find evidence and develop a strategy for declaring your "support" for either the null or alternative hypothesis. We can do this using some statistical theory and some arbitrary cut-off points. Both these issues are dealt with next.

## Significance levels

The level of statistical significance is often expressed as the so-called p -value . Depending on the statistical test you have chosen, you will calculate a probability (i.e., the p -value) of observing your sample results (or more extreme) given that the null hypothesis is true . Another way of phrasing this is to consider the probability that a difference in a mean score (or other statistic) could have arisen based on the assumption that there really is no difference. Let us consider this statement with respect to our example where we are interested in the difference in mean exam performance between two different teaching methods. If there really is no difference between the two teaching methods in the population (i.e., given that the null hypothesis is true), how likely would it be to see a difference in the mean exam performance between the two teaching methods as large as (or larger than) that which has been observed in your sample?

So, you might get a p -value such as 0.03 (i.e., p = .03). This means that there is a 3% chance of finding a difference as large as (or larger than) the one in your study given that the null hypothesis is true. However, you want to know whether this is "statistically significant". Typically, if there was a 5% or less chance (5 times in 100 or less) that the difference in the mean exam performance between the two teaching methods (or whatever statistic you are using) is as different as observed given the null hypothesis is true, you would reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternative hypothesis. Alternately, if the chance was greater than 5% (5 times in 100 or more), you would fail to reject the null hypothesis and would not accept the alternative hypothesis. As such, in this example where p = .03, we would reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternative hypothesis. We reject it because at a significance level of 0.03 (i.e., less than a 5% chance), the result we obtained could happen too frequently for us to be confident that it was the two teaching methods that had an effect on exam performance.

Whilst there is relatively little justification why a significance level of 0.05 is used rather than 0.01 or 0.10, for example, it is widely used in academic research. However, if you want to be particularly confident in your results, you can set a more stringent level of 0.01 (a 1% chance or less; 1 in 100 chance or less).

## One- and two-tailed predictions

When considering whether we reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternative hypothesis, we need to consider the direction of the alternative hypothesis statement. For example, the alternative hypothesis that was stated earlier is:

The alternative hypothesis tells us two things. First, what predictions did we make about the effect of the independent variable(s) on the dependent variable(s)? Second, what was the predicted direction of this effect? Let's use our example to highlight these two points.

Sarah predicted that her teaching method (independent variable: teaching method), whereby she not only required her students to attend lectures, but also seminars, would have a positive effect (that is, increased) students' performance (dependent variable: exam marks). If an alternative hypothesis has a direction (and this is how you want to test it), the hypothesis is one-tailed. That is, it predicts direction of the effect. If the alternative hypothesis has stated that the effect was expected to be negative, this is also a one-tailed hypothesis.

Alternatively, a two-tailed prediction means that we do not make a choice over the direction that the effect of the experiment takes. Rather, it simply implies that the effect could be negative or positive. If Sarah had made a two-tailed prediction, the alternative hypothesis might have been:

In other words, we simply take out the word "positive", which implies the direction of our effect. In our example, making a two-tailed prediction may seem strange. After all, it would be logical to expect that "extra" tuition (going to seminar classes as well as lectures) would either have a positive effect on students' performance or no effect at all, but certainly not a negative effect. However, this is just our opinion (and hope) and certainly does not mean that we will get the effect we expect. Generally speaking, making a one-tail prediction (i.e., and testing for it this way) is frowned upon as it usually reflects the hope of a researcher rather than any certainty that it will happen. Notable exceptions to this rule are when there is only one possible way in which a change could occur. This can happen, for example, when biological activity/presence in measured. That is, a protein might be "dormant" and the stimulus you are using can only possibly "wake it up" (i.e., it cannot possibly reduce the activity of a "dormant" protein). In addition, for some statistical tests, one-tailed tests are not possible.

## Rejecting or failing to reject the null hypothesis

Let's return finally to the question of whether we reject or fail to reject the null hypothesis.

If our statistical analysis shows that the significance level is below the cut-off value we have set (e.g., either 0.05 or 0.01), we reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternative hypothesis. Alternatively, if the significance level is above the cut-off value, we fail to reject the null hypothesis and cannot accept the alternative hypothesis. You should note that you cannot accept the null hypothesis, but only find evidence against it.

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- Null and Alternative Hypotheses | Definitions & Examples

## Null and Alternative Hypotheses | Definitions & Examples

Published on 5 October 2022 by Shaun Turney . Revised on 6 December 2022.

The null and alternative hypotheses are two competing claims that researchers weigh evidence for and against using a statistical test :

- Null hypothesis (H 0 ): There’s no effect in the population .
- Alternative hypothesis (H A ): There’s an effect in the population.

The effect is usually the effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable .

## Table of contents

Answering your research question with hypotheses, what is a null hypothesis, what is an alternative hypothesis, differences between null and alternative hypotheses, how to write null and alternative hypotheses, frequently asked questions about null and alternative hypotheses.

The null and alternative hypotheses offer competing answers to your research question . When the research question asks “Does the independent variable affect the dependent variable?”, the null hypothesis (H 0 ) answers “No, there’s no effect in the population.” On the other hand, the alternative hypothesis (H A ) answers “Yes, there is an effect in the population.”

The null and alternative are always claims about the population. That’s because the goal of hypothesis testing is to make inferences about a population based on a sample . Often, we infer whether there’s an effect in the population by looking at differences between groups or relationships between variables in the sample.

You can use a statistical test to decide whether the evidence favors the null or alternative hypothesis. Each type of statistical test comes with a specific way of phrasing the null and alternative hypothesis. However, the hypotheses can also be phrased in a general way that applies to any test.

The null hypothesis is the claim that there’s no effect in the population.

If the sample provides enough evidence against the claim that there’s no effect in the population ( p ≤ α), then we can reject the null hypothesis . Otherwise, we fail to reject the null hypothesis.

Although “fail to reject” may sound awkward, it’s the only wording that statisticians accept. Be careful not to say you “prove” or “accept” the null hypothesis.

Null hypotheses often include phrases such as “no effect”, “no difference”, or “no relationship”. When written in mathematical terms, they always include an equality (usually =, but sometimes ≥ or ≤).

## Examples of null hypotheses

The table below gives examples of research questions and null hypotheses. There’s always more than one way to answer a research question, but these null hypotheses can help you get started.

*Note that some researchers prefer to always write the null hypothesis in terms of “no effect” and “=”. It would be fine to say that daily meditation has no effect on the incidence of depression and p 1 = p 2 .

The alternative hypothesis (H A ) is the other answer to your research question . It claims that there’s an effect in the population.

Often, your alternative hypothesis is the same as your research hypothesis. In other words, it’s the claim that you expect or hope will be true.

The alternative hypothesis is the complement to the null hypothesis. Null and alternative hypotheses are exhaustive, meaning that together they cover every possible outcome. They are also mutually exclusive, meaning that only one can be true at a time.

Alternative hypotheses often include phrases such as “an effect”, “a difference”, or “a relationship”. When alternative hypotheses are written in mathematical terms, they always include an inequality (usually ≠, but sometimes > or <). As with null hypotheses, there are many acceptable ways to phrase an alternative hypothesis.

## Examples of alternative hypotheses

The table below gives examples of research questions and alternative hypotheses to help you get started with formulating your own.

Null and alternative hypotheses are similar in some ways:

- They’re both answers to the research question
- They both make claims about the population
- They’re both evaluated by statistical tests.

However, there are important differences between the two types of hypotheses, summarized in the following table.

To help you write your hypotheses, you can use the template sentences below. If you know which statistical test you’re going to use, you can use the test-specific template sentences. Otherwise, you can use the general template sentences.

The only thing you need to know to use these general template sentences are your dependent and independent variables. To write your research question, null hypothesis, and alternative hypothesis, fill in the following sentences with your variables:

Does independent variable affect dependent variable ?

- Null hypothesis (H 0 ): Independent variable does not affect dependent variable .
- Alternative hypothesis (H A ): Independent variable affects dependent variable .

## Test-specific

Once you know the statistical test you’ll be using, you can write your hypotheses in a more precise and mathematical way specific to the test you chose. The table below provides template sentences for common statistical tests.

Note: The template sentences above assume that you’re performing one-tailed tests . One-tailed tests are appropriate for most studies.

The null hypothesis is often abbreviated as H 0 . When the null hypothesis is written using mathematical symbols, it always includes an equality symbol (usually =, but sometimes ≥ or ≤).

The alternative hypothesis is often abbreviated as H a or H 1 . When the alternative hypothesis is written using mathematical symbols, it always includes an inequality symbol (usually ≠, but sometimes < or >).

A research hypothesis is your proposed answer to your research question. The research hypothesis usually includes an explanation (‘ x affects y because …’).

A statistical hypothesis, on the other hand, is a mathematical statement about a population parameter. Statistical hypotheses always come in pairs: the null and alternative hypotheses. In a well-designed study , the statistical hypotheses correspond logically to the research hypothesis.

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Chapter 13: Inferential Statistics

## Understanding Null Hypothesis Testing

Learning Objectives

- Explain the purpose of null hypothesis testing, including the role of sampling error.
- Describe the basic logic of null hypothesis testing.
- Describe the role of relationship strength and sample size in determining statistical significance and make reasonable judgments about statistical significance based on these two factors.

## The Purpose of Null Hypothesis Testing

As we have seen, psychological research typically involves measuring one or more variables for a sample and computing descriptive statistics for that sample. In general, however, the researcher’s goal is not to draw conclusions about that sample but to draw conclusions about the population that the sample was selected from. Thus researchers must use sample statistics to draw conclusions about the corresponding values in the population. These corresponding values in the population are called parameters . Imagine, for example, that a researcher measures the number of depressive symptoms exhibited by each of 50 clinically depressed adults and computes the mean number of symptoms. The researcher probably wants to use this sample statistic (the mean number of symptoms for the sample) to draw conclusions about the corresponding population parameter (the mean number of symptoms for clinically depressed adults).

Unfortunately, sample statistics are not perfect estimates of their corresponding population parameters. This is because there is a certain amount of random variability in any statistic from sample to sample. The mean number of depressive symptoms might be 8.73 in one sample of clinically depressed adults, 6.45 in a second sample, and 9.44 in a third—even though these samples are selected randomly from the same population. Similarly, the correlation (Pearson’s r ) between two variables might be +.24 in one sample, −.04 in a second sample, and +.15 in a third—again, even though these samples are selected randomly from the same population. This random variability in a statistic from sample to sample is called sampling error . (Note that the term error here refers to random variability and does not imply that anyone has made a mistake. No one “commits a sampling error.”)

One implication of this is that when there is a statistical relationship in a sample, it is not always clear that there is a statistical relationship in the population. A small difference between two group means in a sample might indicate that there is a small difference between the two group means in the population. But it could also be that there is no difference between the means in the population and that the difference in the sample is just a matter of sampling error. Similarly, a Pearson’s r value of −.29 in a sample might mean that there is a negative relationship in the population. But it could also be that there is no relationship in the population and that the relationship in the sample is just a matter of sampling error.

In fact, any statistical relationship in a sample can be interpreted in two ways:

- There is a relationship in the population, and the relationship in the sample reflects this.
- There is no relationship in the population, and the relationship in the sample reflects only sampling error.

The purpose of null hypothesis testing is simply to help researchers decide between these two interpretations.

## The Logic of Null Hypothesis Testing

Null hypothesis testing is a formal approach to deciding between two interpretations of a statistical relationship in a sample. One interpretation is called the null hypothesis (often symbolized H 0 and read as “H-naught”). This is the idea that there is no relationship in the population and that the relationship in the sample reflects only sampling error. Informally, the null hypothesis is that the sample relationship “occurred by chance.” The other interpretation is called the alternative hypothesis (often symbolized as H 1 ). This is the idea that there is a relationship in the population and that the relationship in the sample reflects this relationship in the population.

Again, every statistical relationship in a sample can be interpreted in either of these two ways: It might have occurred by chance, or it might reflect a relationship in the population. So researchers need a way to decide between them. Although there are many specific null hypothesis testing techniques, they are all based on the same general logic. The steps are as follows:

- Assume for the moment that the null hypothesis is true. There is no relationship between the variables in the population.
- Determine how likely the sample relationship would be if the null hypothesis were true.
- If the sample relationship would be extremely unlikely, then reject the null hypothesis in favour of the alternative hypothesis. If it would not be extremely unlikely, then retain the null hypothesis .

Following this logic, we can begin to understand why Mehl and his colleagues concluded that there is no difference in talkativeness between women and men in the population. In essence, they asked the following question: “If there were no difference in the population, how likely is it that we would find a small difference of d = 0.06 in our sample?” Their answer to this question was that this sample relationship would be fairly likely if the null hypothesis were true. Therefore, they retained the null hypothesis—concluding that there is no evidence of a sex difference in the population. We can also see why Kanner and his colleagues concluded that there is a correlation between hassles and symptoms in the population. They asked, “If the null hypothesis were true, how likely is it that we would find a strong correlation of +.60 in our sample?” Their answer to this question was that this sample relationship would be fairly unlikely if the null hypothesis were true. Therefore, they rejected the null hypothesis in favour of the alternative hypothesis—concluding that there is a positive correlation between these variables in the population.

A crucial step in null hypothesis testing is finding the likelihood of the sample result if the null hypothesis were true. This probability is called the p value . A low p value means that the sample result would be unlikely if the null hypothesis were true and leads to the rejection of the null hypothesis. A high p value means that the sample result would be likely if the null hypothesis were true and leads to the retention of the null hypothesis. But how low must the p value be before the sample result is considered unlikely enough to reject the null hypothesis? In null hypothesis testing, this criterion is called α (alpha) and is almost always set to .05. If there is less than a 5% chance of a result as extreme as the sample result if the null hypothesis were true, then the null hypothesis is rejected. When this happens, the result is said to be statistically significant . If there is greater than a 5% chance of a result as extreme as the sample result when the null hypothesis is true, then the null hypothesis is retained. This does not necessarily mean that the researcher accepts the null hypothesis as true—only that there is not currently enough evidence to conclude that it is true. Researchers often use the expression “fail to reject the null hypothesis” rather than “retain the null hypothesis,” but they never use the expression “accept the null hypothesis.”

The Misunderstood p Value

The p value is one of the most misunderstood quantities in psychological research (Cohen, 1994) [1] . Even professional researchers misinterpret it, and it is not unusual for such misinterpretations to appear in statistics textbooks!

The most common misinterpretation is that the p value is the probability that the null hypothesis is true—that the sample result occurred by chance. For example, a misguided researcher might say that because the p value is .02, there is only a 2% chance that the result is due to chance and a 98% chance that it reflects a real relationship in the population. But this is incorrect . The p value is really the probability of a result at least as extreme as the sample result if the null hypothesis were true. So a p value of .02 means that if the null hypothesis were true, a sample result this extreme would occur only 2% of the time.

You can avoid this misunderstanding by remembering that the p value is not the probability that any particular hypothesis is true or false. Instead, it is the probability of obtaining the sample result if the null hypothesis were true.

## Role of Sample Size and Relationship Strength

Recall that null hypothesis testing involves answering the question, “If the null hypothesis were true, what is the probability of a sample result as extreme as this one?” In other words, “What is the p value?” It can be helpful to see that the answer to this question depends on just two considerations: the strength of the relationship and the size of the sample. Specifically, the stronger the sample relationship and the larger the sample, the less likely the result would be if the null hypothesis were true. That is, the lower the p value. This should make sense. Imagine a study in which a sample of 500 women is compared with a sample of 500 men in terms of some psychological characteristic, and Cohen’s d is a strong 0.50. If there were really no sex difference in the population, then a result this strong based on such a large sample should seem highly unlikely. Now imagine a similar study in which a sample of three women is compared with a sample of three men, and Cohen’s d is a weak 0.10. If there were no sex difference in the population, then a relationship this weak based on such a small sample should seem likely. And this is precisely why the null hypothesis would be rejected in the first example and retained in the second.

Of course, sometimes the result can be weak and the sample large, or the result can be strong and the sample small. In these cases, the two considerations trade off against each other so that a weak result can be statistically significant if the sample is large enough and a strong relationship can be statistically significant even if the sample is small. Table 13.1 shows roughly how relationship strength and sample size combine to determine whether a sample result is statistically significant. The columns of the table represent the three levels of relationship strength: weak, medium, and strong. The rows represent four sample sizes that can be considered small, medium, large, and extra large in the context of psychological research. Thus each cell in the table represents a combination of relationship strength and sample size. If a cell contains the word Yes , then this combination would be statistically significant for both Cohen’s d and Pearson’s r . If it contains the word No , then it would not be statistically significant for either. There is one cell where the decision for d and r would be different and another where it might be different depending on some additional considerations, which are discussed in Section 13.2 “Some Basic Null Hypothesis Tests”

Although Table 13.1 provides only a rough guideline, it shows very clearly that weak relationships based on medium or small samples are never statistically significant and that strong relationships based on medium or larger samples are always statistically significant. If you keep this lesson in mind, you will often know whether a result is statistically significant based on the descriptive statistics alone. It is extremely useful to be able to develop this kind of intuitive judgment. One reason is that it allows you to develop expectations about how your formal null hypothesis tests are going to come out, which in turn allows you to detect problems in your analyses. For example, if your sample relationship is strong and your sample is medium, then you would expect to reject the null hypothesis. If for some reason your formal null hypothesis test indicates otherwise, then you need to double-check your computations and interpretations. A second reason is that the ability to make this kind of intuitive judgment is an indication that you understand the basic logic of this approach in addition to being able to do the computations.

## Statistical Significance Versus Practical Significance

Table 13.1 illustrates another extremely important point. A statistically significant result is not necessarily a strong one. Even a very weak result can be statistically significant if it is based on a large enough sample. This is closely related to Janet Shibley Hyde’s argument about sex differences (Hyde, 2007) [2] . The differences between women and men in mathematical problem solving and leadership ability are statistically significant. But the word significant can cause people to interpret these differences as strong and important—perhaps even important enough to influence the college courses they take or even who they vote for. As we have seen, however, these statistically significant differences are actually quite weak—perhaps even “trivial.”

This is why it is important to distinguish between the statistical significance of a result and the practical significance of that result. Practical significance refers to the importance or usefulness of the result in some real-world context. Many sex differences are statistically significant—and may even be interesting for purely scientific reasons—but they are not practically significant. In clinical practice, this same concept is often referred to as “clinical significance.” For example, a study on a new treatment for social phobia might show that it produces a statistically significant positive effect. Yet this effect still might not be strong enough to justify the time, effort, and other costs of putting it into practice—especially if easier and cheaper treatments that work almost as well already exist. Although statistically significant, this result would be said to lack practical or clinical significance.

Key Takeaways

- Null hypothesis testing is a formal approach to deciding whether a statistical relationship in a sample reflects a real relationship in the population or is just due to chance.
- The logic of null hypothesis testing involves assuming that the null hypothesis is true, finding how likely the sample result would be if this assumption were correct, and then making a decision. If the sample result would be unlikely if the null hypothesis were true, then it is rejected in favour of the alternative hypothesis. If it would not be unlikely, then the null hypothesis is retained.
- The probability of obtaining the sample result if the null hypothesis were true (the p value) is based on two considerations: relationship strength and sample size. Reasonable judgments about whether a sample relationship is statistically significant can often be made by quickly considering these two factors.
- Statistical significance is not the same as relationship strength or importance. Even weak relationships can be statistically significant if the sample size is large enough. It is important to consider relationship strength and the practical significance of a result in addition to its statistical significance.
- Discussion: Imagine a study showing that people who eat more broccoli tend to be happier. Explain for someone who knows nothing about statistics why the researchers would conduct a null hypothesis test.
- The correlation between two variables is r = −.78 based on a sample size of 137.
- The mean score on a psychological characteristic for women is 25 ( SD = 5) and the mean score for men is 24 ( SD = 5). There were 12 women and 10 men in this study.
- In a memory experiment, the mean number of items recalled by the 40 participants in Condition A was 0.50 standard deviations greater than the mean number recalled by the 40 participants in Condition B.
- In another memory experiment, the mean scores for participants in Condition A and Condition B came out exactly the same!
- A student finds a correlation of r = .04 between the number of units the students in his research methods class are taking and the students’ level of stress.

## Long Descriptions

“Null Hypothesis” long description: A comic depicting a man and a woman talking in the foreground. In the background is a child working at a desk. The man says to the woman, “I can’t believe schools are still teaching kids about the null hypothesis. I remember reading a big study that conclusively disproved it years ago.” [Return to “Null Hypothesis”]

“Conditional Risk” long description: A comic depicting two hikers beside a tree during a thunderstorm. A bolt of lightning goes “crack” in the dark sky as thunder booms. One of the hikers says, “Whoa! We should get inside!” The other hiker says, “It’s okay! Lightning only kills about 45 Americans a year, so the chances of dying are only one in 7,000,000. Let’s go on!” The comic’s caption says, “The annual death rate among people who know that statistic is one in six.” [Return to “Conditional Risk”]

## Media Attributions

- Null Hypothesis by XKCD CC BY-NC (Attribution NonCommercial)
- Conditional Risk by XKCD CC BY-NC (Attribution NonCommercial)
- Cohen, J. (1994). The world is round: p < .05. American Psychologist, 49 , 997–1003. ↵
- Hyde, J. S. (2007). New directions in the study of gender similarities and differences. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16 , 259–263. ↵

Values in a population that correspond to variables measured in a study.

The random variability in a statistic from sample to sample.

A formal approach to deciding between two interpretations of a statistical relationship in a sample.

The idea that there is no relationship in the population and that the relationship in the sample reflects only sampling error.

The idea that there is a relationship in the population and that the relationship in the sample reflects this relationship in the population.

When the relationship found in the sample would be extremely unlikely, the idea that the relationship occurred “by chance” is rejected.

When the relationship found in the sample is likely to have occurred by chance, the null hypothesis is not rejected.

The probability that, if the null hypothesis were true, the result found in the sample would occur.

How low the p value must be before the sample result is considered unlikely in null hypothesis testing.

When there is less than a 5% chance of a result as extreme as the sample result occurring and the null hypothesis is rejected.

Research Methods in Psychology - 2nd Canadian Edition Copyright © 2015 by Paul C. Price, Rajiv Jhangiani, & I-Chant A. Chiang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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## 9.1: Null and Alternative Hypotheses

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The actual test begins by considering two hypotheses . They are called the null hypothesis and the alternative hypothesis . These hypotheses contain opposing viewpoints.

\(H_0\): The null hypothesis: It is a statement of no difference between the variables—they are not related. This can often be considered the status quo and as a result if you cannot accept the null it requires some action.

\(H_a\): The alternative hypothesis: It is a claim about the population that is contradictory to \(H_0\) and what we conclude when we reject \(H_0\). This is usually what the researcher is trying to prove.

Since the null and alternative hypotheses are contradictory, you must examine evidence to decide if you have enough evidence to reject the null hypothesis or not. The evidence is in the form of sample data.

After you have determined which hypothesis the sample supports, you make a decision. There are two options for a decision. They are "reject \(H_0\)" if the sample information favors the alternative hypothesis or "do not reject \(H_0\)" or "decline to reject \(H_0\)" if the sample information is insufficient to reject the null hypothesis.

\(H_{0}\) always has a symbol with an equal in it. \(H_{a}\) never has a symbol with an equal in it. The choice of symbol depends on the wording of the hypothesis test. However, be aware that many researchers (including one of the co-authors in research work) use = in the null hypothesis, even with > or < as the symbol in the alternative hypothesis. This practice is acceptable because we only make the decision to reject or not reject the null hypothesis.

## Example \(\PageIndex{1}\)

- \(H_{0}\): No more than 30% of the registered voters in Santa Clara County voted in the primary election. \(p \leq 30\)
- \(H_{a}\): More than 30% of the registered voters in Santa Clara County voted in the primary election. \(p > 30\)

## Exercise \(\PageIndex{1}\)

A medical trial is conducted to test whether or not a new medicine reduces cholesterol by 25%. State the null and alternative hypotheses.

- \(H_{0}\): The drug reduces cholesterol by 25%. \(p = 0.25\)
- \(H_{a}\): The drug does not reduce cholesterol by 25%. \(p \neq 0.25\)

## Example \(\PageIndex{2}\)

We want to test whether the mean GPA of students in American colleges is different from 2.0 (out of 4.0). The null and alternative hypotheses are:

- \(H_{0}: \mu = 2.0\)
- \(H_{a}: \mu \neq 2.0\)

## Exercise \(\PageIndex{2}\)

We want to test whether the mean height of eighth graders is 66 inches. State the null and alternative hypotheses. Fill in the correct symbol \((=, \neq, \geq, <, \leq, >)\) for the null and alternative hypotheses.

- \(H_{0}: \mu \_ 66\)
- \(H_{a}: \mu \_ 66\)
- \(H_{0}: \mu = 66\)
- \(H_{a}: \mu \neq 66\)

## Example \(\PageIndex{3}\)

We want to test if college students take less than five years to graduate from college, on the average. The null and alternative hypotheses are:

- \(H_{0}: \mu \geq 5\)
- \(H_{a}: \mu < 5\)

## Exercise \(\PageIndex{3}\)

We want to test if it takes fewer than 45 minutes to teach a lesson plan. State the null and alternative hypotheses. Fill in the correct symbol ( =, ≠, ≥, <, ≤, >) for the null and alternative hypotheses.

- \(H_{0}: \mu \_ 45\)
- \(H_{a}: \mu \_ 45\)
- \(H_{0}: \mu \geq 45\)
- \(H_{a}: \mu < 45\)

## Example \(\PageIndex{4}\)

In an issue of U. S. News and World Report , an article on school standards stated that about half of all students in France, Germany, and Israel take advanced placement exams and a third pass. The same article stated that 6.6% of U.S. students take advanced placement exams and 4.4% pass. Test if the percentage of U.S. students who take advanced placement exams is more than 6.6%. State the null and alternative hypotheses.

- \(H_{0}: p \leq 0.066\)
- \(H_{a}: p > 0.066\)

## Exercise \(\PageIndex{4}\)

On a state driver’s test, about 40% pass the test on the first try. We want to test if more than 40% pass on the first try. Fill in the correct symbol (\(=, \neq, \geq, <, \leq, >\)) for the null and alternative hypotheses.

- \(H_{0}: p \_ 0.40\)
- \(H_{a}: p \_ 0.40\)
- \(H_{0}: p = 0.40\)
- \(H_{a}: p > 0.40\)

## COLLABORATIVE EXERCISE

Bring to class a newspaper, some news magazines, and some Internet articles . In groups, find articles from which your group can write null and alternative hypotheses. Discuss your hypotheses with the rest of the class.

In a hypothesis test , sample data is evaluated in order to arrive at a decision about some type of claim. If certain conditions about the sample are satisfied, then the claim can be evaluated for a population. In a hypothesis test, we:

- Evaluate the null hypothesis , typically denoted with \(H_{0}\). The null is not rejected unless the hypothesis test shows otherwise. The null statement must always contain some form of equality \((=, \leq \text{or} \geq)\)
- Always write the alternative hypothesis , typically denoted with \(H_{a}\) or \(H_{1}\), using less than, greater than, or not equals symbols, i.e., \((\neq, >, \text{or} <)\).
- If we reject the null hypothesis, then we can assume there is enough evidence to support the alternative hypothesis.
- Never state that a claim is proven true or false. Keep in mind the underlying fact that hypothesis testing is based on probability laws; therefore, we can talk only in terms of non-absolute certainties.

## Formula Review

\(H_{0}\) and \(H_{a}\) are contradictory.

- If \(\alpha \leq p\)-value, then do not reject \(H_{0}\).
- If\(\alpha > p\)-value, then reject \(H_{0}\).

\(\alpha\) is preconceived. Its value is set before the hypothesis test starts. The \(p\)-value is calculated from the data.References

Data from the National Institute of Mental Health. Available online at http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/depression.cfm .

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## AP®︎/College Statistics

Course: ap®︎/college statistics > unit 10.

- Idea behind hypothesis testing

## Examples of null and alternative hypotheses

- Writing null and alternative hypotheses
- P-values and significance tests
- Comparing P-values to different significance levels
- Estimating a P-value from a simulation
- Estimating P-values from simulations
- Using P-values to make conclusions

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## Video transcript

## 9.1 Null and Alternative Hypotheses

The actual test begins by considering two hypotheses . They are called the null hypothesis and the alternative hypothesis . These hypotheses contain opposing viewpoints.

H 0 , the — null hypothesis: a statement of no difference between sample means or proportions or no difference between a sample mean or proportion and a population mean or proportion. In other words, the difference equals 0.

H a —, the alternative hypothesis: a claim about the population that is contradictory to H 0 and what we conclude when we reject H 0 .

Since the null and alternative hypotheses are contradictory, you must examine evidence to decide if you have enough evidence to reject the null hypothesis or not. The evidence is in the form of sample data.

After you have determined which hypothesis the sample supports, you make a decision. There are two options for a decision. They are reject H 0 if the sample information favors the alternative hypothesis or do not reject H 0 or decline to reject H 0 if the sample information is insufficient to reject the null hypothesis.

Mathematical Symbols Used in H 0 and H a :

H 0 always has a symbol with an equal in it. H a never has a symbol with an equal in it. The choice of symbol depends on the wording of the hypothesis test. However, be aware that many researchers use = in the null hypothesis, even with > or < as the symbol in the alternative hypothesis. This practice is acceptable because we only make the decision to reject or not reject the null hypothesis.

## Example 9.1

H 0 : No more than 30 percent of the registered voters in Santa Clara County voted in the primary election. p ≤ 30 H a : More than 30 percent of the registered voters in Santa Clara County voted in the primary election. p > 30

A medical trial is conducted to test whether or not a new medicine reduces cholesterol by 25 percent. State the null and alternative hypotheses.

## Example 9.2

We want to test whether the mean GPA of students in American colleges is different from 2.0 (out of 4.0). The null and alternative hypotheses are the following: H 0 : μ = 2.0 H a : μ ≠ 2.0

We want to test whether the mean height of eighth graders is 66 inches. State the null and alternative hypotheses. Fill in the correct symbol (=, ≠, ≥, <, ≤, >) for the null and alternative hypotheses.

- H 0 : μ __ 66
- H a : μ __ 66

## Example 9.3

We want to test if college students take fewer than five years to graduate from college, on the average. The null and alternative hypotheses are the following: H 0 : μ ≥ 5 H a : μ < 5

We want to test if it takes fewer than 45 minutes to teach a lesson plan. State the null and alternative hypotheses. Fill in the correct symbol ( =, ≠, ≥, <, ≤, >) for the null and alternative hypotheses.

- H 0 : μ __ 45
- H a : μ __ 45

## Example 9.4

An article on school standards stated that about half of all students in France, Germany, and Israel take advanced placement exams and a third of the students pass. The same article stated that 6.6 percent of U.S. students take advanced placement exams and 4.4 percent pass. Test if the percentage of U.S. students who take advanced placement exams is more than 6.6 percent. State the null and alternative hypotheses. H 0 : p ≤ 0.066 H a : p > 0.066

On a state driver’s test, about 40 percent pass the test on the first try. We want to test if more than 40 percent pass on the first try. Fill in the correct symbol (=, ≠, ≥, <, ≤, >) for the null and alternative hypotheses.

- H 0 : p __ 0.40
- H a : p __ 0.40

## Collaborative Exercise

Bring to class a newspaper, some news magazines, and some internet articles. In groups, find articles from which your group can write null and alternative hypotheses. Discuss your hypotheses with the rest of the class.

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## Keyboard Shortcuts

6a.2 - steps for hypothesis tests, the logic of hypothesis testing section .

A hypothesis, in statistics, is a statement about a population parameter, where this statement typically is represented by some specific numerical value. In testing a hypothesis, we use a method where we gather data in an effort to gather evidence about the hypothesis.

How do we decide whether to reject the null hypothesis?

- If the sample data are consistent with the null hypothesis, then we do not reject it.
- If the sample data are inconsistent with the null hypothesis, but consistent with the alternative, then we reject the null hypothesis and conclude that the alternative hypothesis is true.

## Six Steps for Hypothesis Tests Section

In hypothesis testing, there are certain steps one must follow. Below these are summarized into six such steps to conducting a test of a hypothesis.

- Set up the hypotheses and check conditions : Each hypothesis test includes two hypotheses about the population. One is the null hypothesis, notated as \(H_0 \), which is a statement of a particular parameter value. This hypothesis is assumed to be true until there is evidence to suggest otherwise. The second hypothesis is called the alternative, or research hypothesis, notated as \(H_a \). The alternative hypothesis is a statement of a range of alternative values in which the parameter may fall. One must also check that any conditions (assumptions) needed to run the test have been satisfied e.g. normality of data, independence, and number of success and failure outcomes.
- Decide on the significance level, \(\alpha \): This value is used as a probability cutoff for making decisions about the null hypothesis. This alpha value represents the probability we are willing to place on our test for making an incorrect decision in regards to rejecting the null hypothesis. The most common \(\alpha \) value is 0.05 or 5%. Other popular choices are 0.01 (1%) and 0.1 (10%).
- Calculate the test statistic: Gather sample data and calculate a test statistic where the sample statistic is compared to the parameter value. The test statistic is calculated under the assumption the null hypothesis is true and incorporates a measure of standard error and assumptions (conditions) related to the sampling distribution.
- Calculate probability value (p-value), or find the rejection region: A p-value is found by using the test statistic to calculate the probability of the sample data producing such a test statistic or one more extreme. The rejection region is found by using alpha to find a critical value; the rejection region is the area that is more extreme than the critical value. We discuss the p-value and rejection region in more detail in the next section.
- Make a decision about the null hypothesis: In this step, we decide to either reject the null hypothesis or decide to fail to reject the null hypothesis. Notice we do not make a decision where we will accept the null hypothesis.
- State an overall conclusion : Once we have found the p-value or rejection region, and made a statistical decision about the null hypothesis (i.e. we will reject the null or fail to reject the null), we then want to summarize our results into an overall conclusion for our test.

We will follow these six steps for the remainder of this Lesson. In the future Lessons, the steps will be followed but may not be explained explicitly.

Step 1 is a very important step to set up correctly. If your hypotheses are incorrect, your conclusion will be incorrect. In this next section, we practice with Step 1 for the one sample situations.

## What 'Fail to Reject' Means in a Hypothesis Test

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In statistics , scientists can perform a number of different significance tests to determine if there is a relationship between two phenomena. One of the first they usually perform is a null hypothesis test. In short, the null hypothesis states that there is no meaningful relationship between two measured phenomena. After a performing a test, scientists can:

- Reject the null hypothesis (meaning there is a definite, consequential relationship between the two phenomena), or
- Fail to reject the null hypothesis (meaning the test has not identified a consequential relationship between the two phenomena)

## Key Takeaways: The Null Hypothesis

• In a test of significance, the null hypothesis states that there is no meaningful relationship between two measured phenomena.

• By comparing the null hypothesis to an alternative hypothesis, scientists can either reject or fail to reject the null hypothesis.

• The null hypothesis cannot be positively proven. Rather, all that scientists can determine from a test of significance is that the evidence collected does or does not disprove the null hypothesis.

It is important to note that a failure to reject does not mean that the null hypothesis is true—only that the test did not prove it to be false. In some cases, depending on the experiment, a relationship may exist between two phenomena that is not identified by the experiment. In such cases, new experiments must be designed to rule out alternative hypotheses.

## Null vs. Alternative Hypothesis

The null hypothesis is considered the default in a scientific experiment . In contrast, an alternative hypothesis is one that claims that there is a meaningful relationship between two phenomena. These two competing hypotheses can be compared by performing a statistical hypothesis test, which determines whether there is a statistically significant relationship between the data.

For example, scientists studying the water quality of a stream may wish to determine whether a certain chemical affects the acidity of the water. The null hypothesis—that the chemical has no effect on the water quality—can be tested by measuring the pH level of two water samples, one of which contains some of the chemical and one of which has been left untouched. If the sample with the added chemical is measurably more or less acidic—as determined through statistical analysis—it is a reason to reject the null hypothesis. If the sample's acidity is unchanged, it is a reason to not reject the null hypothesis.

When scientists design experiments, they attempt to find evidence for the alternative hypothesis. They do not try to prove that the null hypothesis is true. The null hypothesis is assumed to be an accurate statement until contrary evidence proves otherwise. As a result, a test of significance does not produce any evidence pertaining to the truth of the null hypothesis.

## Failing to Reject vs. Accept

In an experiment, the null hypothesis and the alternative hypothesis should be carefully formulated such that one and only one of these statements is true. If the collected data supports the alternative hypothesis, then the null hypothesis can be rejected as false. However, if the data does not support the alternative hypothesis, this does not mean that the null hypothesis is true. All it means is that the null hypothesis has not been disproven—hence the term "failure to reject." A "failure to reject" a hypothesis should not be confused with acceptance.

In mathematics, negations are typically formed by simply placing the word “not” in the correct place. Using this convention, tests of significance allow scientists to either reject or not reject the null hypothesis. It sometimes takes a moment to realize that “not rejecting” is not the same as "accepting."

## Null Hypothesis Example

In many ways, the philosophy behind a test of significance is similar to that of a trial. At the beginning of the proceedings, when the defendant enters a plea of “not guilty,” it is analogous to the statement of the null hypothesis. While the defendant may indeed be innocent, there is no plea of “innocent” to be formally made in court. The alternative hypothesis of “guilty” is what the prosecutor attempts to demonstrate.

The presumption at the outset of the trial is that the defendant is innocent. In theory, there is no need for the defendant to prove that he or she is innocent. The burden of proof is on the prosecuting attorney, who must marshal enough evidence to convince the jury that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Likewise, in a test of significance, a scientist can only reject the null hypothesis by providing evidence for the alternative hypothesis.

If there is not enough evidence in a trial to demonstrate guilt, then the defendant is declared “not guilty.” This claim has nothing to do with innocence; it merely reflects the fact that the prosecution failed to provide enough evidence of guilt. In a similar way, a failure to reject the null hypothesis in a significance test does not mean that the null hypothesis is true. It only means that the scientist was unable to provide enough evidence for the alternative hypothesis.

For example, scientists testing the effects of a certain pesticide on crop yields might design an experiment in which some crops are left untreated and others are treated with varying amounts of pesticide. Any result in which the crop yields varied based on pesticide exposure—assuming all other variables are equal—would provide strong evidence for the alternative hypothesis (that the pesticide does affect crop yields). As a result, the scientists would have reason to reject the null hypothesis.

- Null Hypothesis Examples
- Hypothesis Test for the Difference of Two Population Proportions
- Type I and Type II Errors in Statistics
- Null Hypothesis and Alternative Hypothesis
- How to Conduct a Hypothesis Test
- An Example of a Hypothesis Test
- What Is a P-Value?
- The Difference Between Type I and Type II Errors in Hypothesis Testing
- What Is a Hypothesis? (Science)
- Null Hypothesis Definition and Examples
- Hypothesis Test Example
- What Level of Alpha Determines Statistical Significance?
- The Runs Test for Random Sequences
- How to Do Hypothesis Tests With the Z.TEST Function in Excel
- Scientific Method Vocabulary Terms
- What Is the Difference Between Alpha and P-Values?

## How to accept or reject a hypothesis?

A hypothesis is a proposed statement to explore a possible theory. Many studies in the fields of social sciences, sciences, and mathematics make use of hypothesis testing to prove a theory. Assumptions in a hypothesis help in making predictions. It is presented in the form of null and alternate hypotheses. When a hypothesis is presented negatively (for example, TV advertisements do not affect consumer behavior), it is called a null hypothesis. This article explains the conditions to accept or reject a hypothesis.

## Why is it important to reject the null hypothesis?

A null hypothesis is a statement that describes that there is no difference in the assumed characteristics of the population. For example, in a study wherein the impact of the level of education on the efficiency of the employee need to be determined, null (Ho) and alternate (HA) hypothesis would be:

In the above-stated null hypothesis, there is very little chance of a relationship between both the variables (education and employee’s efficiency). When a null hypothesis is accepted, it shows that the study has a lack of evidence in showing any significant connection between the variables. This could be due to problems with the data such as:

- high variability,
- small sample size,
- inappropriate sample and,
- wrong data testing method.

Hence, for efficient, appropriate, and reliable results, it is suggested to reject the null hypothesis.

## Conditions for rejecting a null hypothesis

Rejection of the null hypothesis provides sufficient evidence for supporting the perception of the researcher. Thus, a statistician always prefers to reject the null hypothesis. However, there are certain conditions which need to be fulfilled for the required results i.e.

## Condition 1: Sample data should be reasonably random

A random sample is the one every person in the sample universe has an equal possibility of being selected for the analysis. Random sampling is necessary for deriving accurate results and rejecting the null hypothesis. This is because when a sample is randomly selected, characteristic traits of each participant in the study are the same, so there is no error in decision making. For example, in the sample hypothesis, instead of collecting data from all employees, the data was collected from only the board members of the company. This hypothesis testing would not provide good results as the sample does not represent all the employees of the company.

## Condition 2: Distribution of the sample should be known

A dataset can be of two types: normally distributed or skewed. Normally distributed datasets require application of parametric tests i.e. Z-test, T-test, χ2-test, and F-distribution. On the other hand, skewed dataset uses non-parametric test i.e. Wilcoxon rank sum test, Wilcoxon signed rank test, and Kruskal Wallis test. For reliable hypothesis test result, it is essential that the distribution of the sample be tested.

## Condition 3: Value of test statistic should not fall in the rejection region

Test statistic value is compared with critical value when the null hypothesis is true (critical value). If the test statistic is more extreme as compared to the critical value, then the null hypothesis would be rejected.

For example, in the sample hypothesis if the sample size is 50 and the significance level of the study is 5% then the critical value for the given two-tailed test would be 1.960. Hence, null hypothesis would be rejected if,

## Condition 4: P-value should be less than the significance of the study

P-value represents the probability that the null hypothesis true. In order to reject the null hypothesis, it is essential that the p-value should be less that the significance or the precision level considered for the study. Hence,

- Reject null hypothesis (H0) if ‘p’ value < statistical significance (0.01/0.05/0.10)
- Accept null hypothesis (H0) if ‘p’ value > statistical significance (0.01/0.05/0.10)

For example, in the sample hypothesis if the considered statistical significance level is 5% and the p-value of the model is 0.12. Hence, the hypothesis of having no significant impact would not be rejected as 0.12 > 0.05.

## Important points to note

While making the final decision of the hypothesis, these points should be noted i.e.

- A large sample size i.e. at least greater than 30 should be considered. As per the Central Limit Theorem (CLT) large sample size i.e. at least greater than 30 is considered to be approximately normally distributed.
- For deriving the results either p-value approach or rejection approach could be used. However, the p-value is a more preferable approach.
- Statistical significance should be maintained at a minimum level.
- The choice of the rejection region should be appropriately made by verifying the direction of the alternative hypothesis.
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## 1 thought on “How to accept or reject a hypothesis?”

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## COMMENTS

A null hypothesis is rejected if the measured data is significantly unlikely to have occurred and a null hypothesis is accepted if the observed outcome is consistent with the position held by the null hypothesis. Rejecting the null hypothesis sets the stage for further experimentation to see if a relationship between two variables exists.

The null hypothesis in statistics states that there is no difference between groups or no relationship between variables. It is one of two mutually exclusive hypotheses about a population in a hypothesis test. When your sample contains sufficient evidence, you can reject the null and conclude that the effect is statistically significant.

A hypothesis test is a formal statistical test we use to reject or fail to reject a statistical hypothesis. We always use the following steps to perform a hypothesis test: Step 1: State the null and alternative hypotheses. The null hypothesis, denoted as H0, is the hypothesis that the sample data occurs purely from chance.

Let's return finally to the question of whether we reject or fail to reject the null hypothesis. If our statistical analysis shows that the significance level is below the cut-off value we have set (e.g., either 0.05 or 0.01), we reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternative hypothesis. Alternatively, if the significance level is above ...

Table of contents. Step 1: State your null and alternate hypothesis. Step 2: Collect data. Step 3: Perform a statistical test. Step 4: Decide whether to reject or fail to reject your null hypothesis. Step 5: Present your findings. Other interesting articles. Frequently asked questions about hypothesis testing.

The first step in hypothesis testing is to set up two competing hypotheses. The hypotheses are the most important aspect. If the hypotheses are incorrect, your conclusion will also be incorrect. The two hypotheses are named the null hypothesis and the alternative hypothesis. The null hypothesis is typically denoted as H 0.

The alternative hypothesis (H a) is the other answer to your research question. It claims that there's an effect in the population. Often, your alternative hypothesis is the same as your research hypothesis. In other words, it's the claim that you expect or hope will be true. The alternative hypothesis is the complement to the null hypothesis.

Use the P-Value method to support or reject null hypothesis. Step 1: State the null hypothesis and the alternate hypothesis ("the claim"). H o :p ≤ 0.23; H 1 :p > 0.23 (claim) Step 2: Compute by dividing the number of positive respondents from the number in the random sample: 63 / 210 = 0.3. Step 3: Find 'p' by converting the stated ...

In hypothesis testing, the goal is to see if there is sufficient statistical evidence to reject a presumed null hypothesis in favor of a conjectured alternative hypothesis.The null hypothesis is usually denoted \(H_0\) while the alternative hypothesis is usually denoted \(H_1\). An hypothesis test is a statistical decision; the conclusion will either be to reject the null hypothesis in favor ...

The null hypothesis is the claim that there's no effect in the population. If the sample provides enough evidence against the claim that there's no effect in the population (p ≤ α), then we can reject the null hypothesis. Otherwise, we fail to reject the null hypothesis.

In null hypothesis testing, this criterion is called α (alpha) and is almost always set to .05. If there is less than a 5% chance of a result as extreme as the sample result if the null hypothesis were true, then the null hypothesis is rejected. When this happens, the result is said to be statistically significant. If there is greater than a 5 ...

Review. In a hypothesis test, sample data is evaluated in order to arrive at a decision about some type of claim.If certain conditions about the sample are satisfied, then the claim can be evaluated for a population. In a hypothesis test, we: Evaluate the null hypothesis, typically denoted with \(H_{0}\).The null is not rejected unless the hypothesis test shows otherwise.

The null hypothesis is what happens at baseline. It is the uninteresting hypothesis--the boring hypothesis. Usually, it is the hypothesis that assumes no difference. It is the opposite of your research hypothesis. The alternative hypothesis--that is, the research hypothesis--is the idea, phenomenon, observation that you want to prove.

H a —, the alternative hypothesis: a claim about the population that is contradictory to H 0 and what we conclude when we reject H 0. Since the null and alternative hypotheses are contradictory, you must examine evidence to decide if you have enough evidence to reject the null hypothesis or not. The evidence is in the form of sample data.

Below these are summarized into six such steps to conducting a test of a hypothesis. Set up the hypotheses and check conditions: Each hypothesis test includes two hypotheses about the population. One is the null hypothesis, notated as H 0, which is a statement of a particular parameter value. This hypothesis is assumed to be true until there is ...

When you can reject the null hypothesis, your results are statistically significant. Learn more about Statistical Significance: Definition & Meaning. Related post: Understanding the Null Hypothesis in More Detail. Alternative Hypothesis. The alternative hypothesis is the other theory about the properties of the population in hypothesis testing.

The p-value (or the observed level of significance) is the smallest level of significance at which you can reject the null hypothesis, assuming the null hypothesis is true. You can also think about the p-value as the total area of the region of rejection. Remember that in a one-tailed test, the region of rejection is consolidated into one tail ...

Consequently, we fail to reject it. Failing to reject the null indicates that our sample did not provide sufficient evidence to conclude that the effect exists. However, at the same time, that lack of evidence doesn't prove that the effect does not exist. Capturing all that information leads to the convoluted wording!

The null hypothesis and alternative hypothesis are always mathematically opposite. The possible outcomes of hypothesis testing: Reject the null hypothesis —a person is found guilty. Fail to reject the null hypothesis — the accused is acquitted. David decided to state hypotheses in the following way:

Key Takeaways: The Null Hypothesis. • In a test of significance, the null hypothesis states that there is no meaningful relationship between two measured phenomena. • By comparing the null hypothesis to an alternative hypothesis, scientists can either reject or fail to reject the null hypothesis. • The null hypothesis cannot be positively ...

5. Phrase your hypothesis in three ways. To identify the variables, you can write a simple prediction in if…then form. The first part of the sentence states the independent variable and the second part states the dependent variable. If a first-year student starts attending more lectures, then their exam scores will improve.

In order to reject the null hypothesis, it is essential that the p-value should be less that the significance or the precision level considered for the study. Hence, Reject null hypothesis (H0) if 'p' value < statistical significance (0.01/0.05/0.10) Accept null hypothesis (H0) if 'p' value > statistical significance (0.01/0.05/0.10)

It involves a systematic process to either reject or fail to reject a hypothesis, which is a proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.

If the p-value is greater than alpha (p > α), we fail to reject the null hypothesis. This suggests that the observed data are reasonably likely to have occurred even if the null hypothesis were true, thus not providing sufficient evidence to reject it. In simpler terms, if the p-value is small (typically less than 0.05), we reject the null ...