Testable Hypothesis Explanation and Examples

Understanding Testability

A testable hypothesis is the starting point of an experiment.
A testable hypothesis is the starting point of an experiment. Amanda Rohde, Getty Images

A testable hypothesis is a form of a hypothesis that can either be supported or else falsified from data or experience. It's the type of hypothesis you want to state in order to conceive and perform an experiment using the scientific method.

Requirements of a Testable Hypothesis

In order to be considered testable, two criteria must be met:

1) A counter-example of the hypothesis must be possible. In other words, it must be falsifiable.

2) It must be possible to observe whether the hypothesis is true or false. In other words, you should be able to design an experiment to test the hypothesis.

Additionally, you need to be able to reproduce the results.

Examples of a Testable Hypothesis

Students who attend class have higher grades than students who skip class.

People exposed to high levels of ultraviolet light have a higher incidence of cancer than the norm.

If you put people in a dark room, then they will be unable to tell when an infrared light turns on.

Examples of a Hypothesis Not Written in a Testable Form

It doesn't matter whether or not you skip class.

Ultraviolet light could cause cancer.

I can't see infrared light.

How To Propose a Testable Hypothesis

So, now that you know what a testable hypothesis is, here are tips for proposing one.

  • Try to write the hypothesis as an if-then statement. If you take an action, then a certain outcome is expected.
  • Identify the independent and dependent variable in the hypothesis. The independent variable is what you are controlling or changing. You measure the effect this has on the dependent variable.
  • Write the hypothesis in such a way that you can prove or disprove it. For example, a person has skin cancer, you can't prove they got it from being out in the sun. However, you can demonstrate a relationship between exposure to ultraviolet light and increased risk of skin cancer.
  • Make sure you are proposing a hypothesis you can test with reproducible results. If your face breaks out, you can't prove it was caused by the french fries you had for dinner last night. However, you can measure whether or not eating french fries is associated with breaking out. It's a matter of gathering enough data to be able to reproduce results and draw a conclusion.
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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Testable Hypothesis Explanation and Examples." ThoughtCo, Mar. 6, 2017, thoughtco.com/testable-hypothesis-explanation-and-examples-609100. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2017, March 6). Testable Hypothesis Explanation and Examples. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/testable-hypothesis-explanation-and-examples-609100 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Testable Hypothesis Explanation and Examples." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/testable-hypothesis-explanation-and-examples-609100 (accessed November 20, 2017).