Developing a Research Hypothesis

Developing a research hypothesis (also referred to as the test hypothesis or alternative hypothesis), and selecting participants to test the hypothesis, are critical components for beginning a study.

This hypothesis is your prediction of what will actually happen in your study. This hypothesis should also predict the proposed relations among your selected independent variable(s), which you manipulate, and how the manipulation will affect the dependent variable(s), which measure the outcome.

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If your hypothesis states, “participating in psychotherapy will reduce anxiety,” psychotherapy is the independent variable. That is, your experiment will include individuals who go through psychotherapy and others who do not. Afterward, you will compare your participants on an anxiety scale to see if the psychotherapy actually reduced anxiety. In this case, the measure of anxiety after the treatment is the dependent variable. Before testing a hypothesis, you will need to consider the population of interest from which you will recruit a sample of individuals to participate in your study. There are two methods of sampling to consider.

One method is probability sampling, and the various corresponding techniques (e.g., systematic random sampling, stratified sampling), wherein every member in a population has a chance to be included in the sample. When everyone in a population is not accessible, you will need to rely on the second method, which is nonprobability sampling, and the various corresponding techniques (e.g., snowball sampling, convenience sampling). For this Discussion, you will locate and select a topic of your choice and develop your own research hypothesis based on your understanding of the topic.

You will also apply your understanding of sampling methods and techniques that can be utilized to test your hypothesis as well as the hypotheses generated by your colleagues.

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