This is the Difference Between a Hypothesis and a Theory

What to Know A hypothesis is an assumption made before any research has been done. It is formed so that it can be tested to see if it might be true. A theory is a principle formed to explain the things already shown in data. Because of the rigors of experiment and control, it is much more likely that a theory will be true than a hypothesis.

As anyone who has worked in a laboratory or out in the field can tell you, science is about process: that of observing, making inferences about those observations, and then performing tests to see if the truth value of those inferences holds up. The scientific method is designed to be a rigorous procedure for acquiring knowledge about the world around us.

hypothesis

In scientific reasoning, a hypothesis is constructed before any applicable research has been done. A theory, on the other hand, is supported by evidence: it's a principle formed as an attempt to explain things that have already been substantiated by data.

Toward that end, science employs a particular vocabulary for describing how ideas are proposed, tested, and supported or disproven. And that's where we see the difference between a hypothesis and a theory .

A hypothesis is an assumption, something proposed for the sake of argument so that it can be tested to see if it might be true.

In the scientific method, the hypothesis is constructed before any applicable research has been done, apart from a basic background review. You ask a question, read up on what has been studied before, and then form a hypothesis.

What is a Hypothesis?

A hypothesis is usually tentative, an assumption or suggestion made strictly for the objective of being tested.

When a character which has been lost in a breed, reappears after a great number of generations, the most probable hypothesis is, not that the offspring suddenly takes after an ancestor some hundred generations distant, but that in each successive generation there has been a tendency to reproduce the character in question, which at last, under unknown favourable conditions, gains an ascendancy. Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species , 1859 According to one widely reported hypothesis , cell-phone transmissions were disrupting the bees' navigational abilities. (Few experts took the cell-phone conjecture seriously; as one scientist said to me, "If that were the case, Dave Hackenberg's hives would have been dead a long time ago.") Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker , 6 Aug. 2007

What is a Theory?

A theory , in contrast, is a principle that has been formed as an attempt to explain things that have already been substantiated by data. It is used in the names of a number of principles accepted in the scientific community, such as the Big Bang Theory . Because of the rigors of experimentation and control, its likelihood as truth is much higher than that of a hypothesis.

It is evident, on our theory , that coasts merely fringed by reefs cannot have subsided to any perceptible amount; and therefore they must, since the growth of their corals, either have remained stationary or have been upheaved. Now, it is remarkable how generally it can be shown, by the presence of upraised organic remains, that the fringed islands have been elevated: and so far, this is indirect evidence in favour of our theory . Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle , 1839 An example of a fundamental principle in physics, first proposed by Galileo in 1632 and extended by Einstein in 1905, is the following: All observers traveling at constant velocity relative to one another, should witness identical laws of nature. From this principle, Einstein derived his theory of special relativity. Alan Lightman, Harper's , December 2011

Non-Scientific Use

In non-scientific use, however, hypothesis and theory are often used interchangeably to mean simply an idea, speculation, or hunch (though theory is more common in this regard):

The theory of the teacher with all these immigrant kids was that if you spoke English loudly enough they would eventually understand. E. L. Doctorow, Loon Lake , 1979 Chicago is famous for asking questions for which there can be no boilerplate answers. Example: given the probability that the federal tax code, nondairy creamer, Dennis Rodman and the art of mime all came from outer space, name something else that has extraterrestrial origins and defend your hypothesis . John McCormick, Newsweek , 5 Apr. 1999 In his mind's eye, Miller saw his case suddenly taking form: Richard Bailey had Helen Brach killed because she was threatening to sue him over the horses she had purchased. It was, he realized, only a theory , but it was one he felt certain he could, in time, prove. Full of urgency, a man with a mission now that he had a hypothesis to guide him, he issued new orders to his troops: Find out everything you can about Richard Bailey and his crowd. Howard Blum, Vanity Fair , January 1995

And sometimes one term is used as a genus, or a means for defining the other:

Laplace's popular version of his astronomy, the Système du monde , was famous for introducing what came to be known as the nebular hypothesis , the theory that the solar system was formed by the condensation, through gradual cooling, of the gaseous atmosphere (the nebulae) surrounding the sun. Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club , 2001 Researchers use this information to support the gateway drug theory — the hypothesis that using one intoxicating substance leads to future use of another. Jordy Byrd, The Pacific Northwest Inlander , 6 May 2015 Fox, the business and economics columnist for Time magazine, tells the story of the professors who enabled those abuses under the banner of the financial theory known as the efficient market hypothesis . Paul Krugman, The New York Times Book Review , 9 Aug. 2009

Incorrect Interpretations of "Theory"

Since this casual use does away with the distinctions upheld by the scientific community, hypothesis and theory are prone to being wrongly interpreted even when they are encountered in scientific contexts—or at least, contexts that allude to scientific study without making the critical distinction that scientists employ when weighing hypotheses and theories.

The most common occurrence is when theory is interpreted—and sometimes even gleefully seized upon—to mean something having less truth value than other scientific principles. (The word law applies to principles so firmly established that they are almost never questioned, such as the law of gravity.)

This mistake is one of projection: since we use theory in general use to mean something lightly speculated, then it's implied that scientists must be talking about the same level of uncertainty when they use theory to refer to their well-tested and reasoned principles.

The distinction has come to the forefront particularly on occasions when the content of science curricula in schools has been challenged—notably, when a school board in Georgia put stickers on textbooks stating that evolution was "a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things." As Kenneth R. Miller, a cell biologist at Brown University, has said , a theory "doesn’t mean a hunch or a guess. A theory is a system of explanations that ties together a whole bunch of facts. It not only explains those facts, but predicts what you ought to find from other observations and experiments.”

While theories are never completely infallible, they form the basis of scientific reasoning because, as Miller said "to the best of our ability, we’ve tested them, and they’ve held up."

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Thesis vs Hypothesis vs Theory: the Differences and examples

Thesis vs Hypothesis vs Theory: the Differences and examples

Many students may have a hard time understanding the differences between a thesis, a hypothesis, and a theory. It is important to understand their differences. Such an understanding will be instrumental.

More so, when writing complex research papers that require a thesis that has a hypothesis and utilizes theories. We have gathered from responses of our college writing service that the difference between the three is confusing.

hypothesis vs theory vs thesis

That being said, this article is meant to explain the differences between a thesis, a hypothesis, and a theory. 

Difference between Hypothesis and Thesis

There are major differences between hypothesis and thesis. While they seem to be related on the face, their differences are huge both in concept and practice.

A hypothesis is a proposed explanation of something or a phenomenon. A scientific hypothesis uses a scientific method that requires any hypothesis to be tested. As such, scientists and researchers base their hypothesis on observations that have been previously made and that which cannot be explained by the available or prevailing scientific theories.

From the definition of a hypothesis, you can see that theories must be included in any scientific method. This is the reason why this article tries to differentiate a thesis, a hypothesis, and a theory. 

Moving forward, a thesis can be defined as a written piece of academic work that is submitted by students to attain a university degree. However, on a smaller scale, there is something that is referred to as a thesis statement.

This is written at the introduction of a research paper or essay that is supported by a credible argument. The link between a hypothesis and thesis is that a thesis is a distinction or an affirmation of the hypothesis.

What this means is that whenever a research paper contains a hypothesis, there should be a thesis that validates it. 

What is a Hypothesis?

A hypothesis can be defined as the proposed or suggested explanation for an occurrence, something, or a phenomenon. It should be testable through scientific methods. The reason why scholarly works should have a hypothesis is that the observed phenomena could not be explained using the prevailing scientific theories hence the reason why it should be tested. 

Testing the hypothesis may result in the development of new or improved scientific theories that are beneficial to the discipline and society in general. 

What is a Thesis?

A thesis is a written piece of academic work that is submitted by students to attain a university degree. When a thesis is used as a stand-alone word, it denotes academic papers written by university students. It is mostly written by those pursuing postgraduate degrees, at the end of their courses. They demonstrate their proficiency in their disciplines and the topics they have selected for research. 

However, when a thesis is used to refer to a statement, it denotes the statement that is written at the introduction of a research paper or essay. A thesis is supported by a credible argument.

Every research paper must have a thesis statement that acts as a guide to what the research will be all about. It is possible to receive very poor grades or even score a zero if your research paper lacks the thesis statement. 

What is a Theory?

A theory can be defined as a rational form of abstract perspectives or thinking concerning the results of such thinking or a phenomenon. The process of rational and contemplative thinking is mostly associated with processes such as research or observational study.

As such, a theory can be considered to belong to both scientific and non-scientific disciplines. Theories can also belong to no discipline.

From a modernistic scientific approach, a theory can mean scientific theories that have been well confirmed to explain nature and that are created in such a way that they are consistent with the standard scientific method. A theory should fulfill all the criteria required by modern-day science. 

A theory should be described in a way that scientific tests that have been conducted can provide empirical support or contradiction to the theory.

Because of the nature by which scientific theories are developed, they tend to be the most rigorous, reliable, and comprehensive when it comes to describing and supporting scientific knowledge. 

The connection between a theory and a hypothesis is that when a theory has not yet been proven, it can be referred to as a hypothesis.

The thing about theories is that they are not meant to help the scientist or researcher reach a particular goal. Rather, a theory is meant to guide the process of finding facts about a phenomenon or an observation. 

Difference between a Theory and Thesis

A theory is a rational form of abstract perspectives or thinking concerning the results of such thinking or a phenomenon. The process of rational and contemplative thinking is mostly associated with processes such as research or observational study. On the other hand, a thesis is a written piece of academic work that is submitted by students to attain a university degree.

It denotes academic papers that are written by students in the university, especially those pursuing postgraduate degrees, at the end of their courses to demonstrate their proficiency in their disciplines and the topics they have selected for research. 

To understand the application of these, read our guide on the difference between a research paper and a thesis proposal to get a wider view.

How to write a Good Hypothesis

1. asking a question.

Asking a question is the first step in the scientific method and the question should be based on  who, what, where, when, why,  and  how . The question should be focused, specific, and researchable.

2. Gathering preliminary research 

This is the process of collecting relevant data. It can be done by researching academic journals, conducting case studies, observing phenomena, and conducting experiments. 

3. Formulating an answer

When the research is completed, you should think of how best to answer the question and defend your position. The answer to your question should be objective. 

4. Writing the hypothesis

When your answer is ready, you can move to the next step of formulating the hypothesis. A good hypothesis should contain relevant variables, predicted outcomes, and a study group that can include non-human things. The hypothesis should not be a question but a complete statement. 

5. Refining the hypothesis

Though you may skip this step, it is advisable to include it because your study may involve two groups or be a correlational study. Refining the hypothesis will ensure that you have stated the difference or relationship you expect to find. 

6. Creating a null and alternative hypotheses

A null hypothesis (H0) will postulate that there is no evidence to support the difference. On the other hand, an alternative hypothesis (H1) posits that there is evidence in support of the difference. 

Difference between thesis and hypothesis example

Thesis:  High levels of alcohol consumption have detrimental effects on your health, such as weight gain, heart disease, and liver complications.

Hypothesis:  The people who consume high levels of alcohol experience detrimental effects on their health such as weight gain, heart disease, and liver complications. 

What is the difference between a summary and a thesis statement?

A summary is a brief account or statement of the main points from the researches. A thesis statement is a statement that is written at the end of the introduction of a research paper or essay that summarizes the main claims of the paper. 

Difference between hypothesis and statement of the problem

A hypothesis can be defined as the proposed or suggested explanation for an occurrence, something, or a phenomenon. The same should be testable through scientific methods. Conversely, a statement of a problem is a concise description of the issue to be addressed on how it can be improved. 

Josh Jasen

When not handling complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.

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“Theory” vs. “Hypothesis”: What Is The Difference?

Chances are you’ve heard of the TV show The Big Bang Theory . Lots of people love this lighthearted sitcom for its quirky characters and their relationships, but others haven’t even given the series a chance for one reason: they don’t like science and assume the show is boring.

However, it only takes a few seconds with Sheldon and Penny to disprove this assumption and realize that this theory ab0ut The Big Bang Theory is wrong—it isn’t a scientific snoozefest.

But wait: is it a theory or a  hypothesis about the show that leads people astray? And would the actual big bang theory— the one that refers to the beginning of the universe—mean the same thing as a big bang hypothesis ?

Let’s take a closer look at theory and hypothesis to nail down what they mean.

What does theory mean?

As a noun, a theory is a group of tested general propositions “commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena .” This is what is known as a scientific   theory , which by definition is “an understanding that is based on already tested data or results .” Einstein’s theory of relativity and the  theory of evolution are both examples of such tested propositions .

Theory is also defined as a proposed explanation you might make about your own life and observations, and it’s one “whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation .” For example:  I’ve got my own theories about why he’s missing his deadlines all the time.  This example refers to an idea that has not yet been proven.

There are other uses of the word theory as well.

  • In this example,  theory is “a body of principles or theorems belonging to one subject.” It can be a branch of science or art that deals with its principles or methods .
  • For example: when she started to follow a new parenting theory based on a trendy book, it caused a conflict with her mother, who kept offering differing opinions .

First recorded in 1590–1600, theory originates from the Late Latin theōria , which stems from the Greek theōría. Synonyms for theory include approach , assumption , doctrine , ideology , method , philosophy , speculation , thesis , and understanding .

What does hypothesis mean?

Hypothesis is a noun that means “a proposition , or set of propositions, set forth as an explanation” that describe “some specified group of phenomena.” Sounds familiar to theory , no?

But, unlike a theory , a scientific  hypothesis is made before testing is done and isn’t based on results. Instead, it is the basis for further investigation . For example: her working hypothesis is that this new drug also has an unintended effect on the heart, and she is curious what the clinical trials  will show .

Hypothesis also refers to “a proposition assumed as a premise in an argument,” or “mere assumption or guess.” For example:

  • She decided to drink more water for a week to test out her hypothesis that dehydration was causing her terrible headaches.
  • After a night of her spouse’s maddening snoring, she came up with the hypothesis that sleeping on his back was exacerbating the problem.

Hypothesis was first recorded around 1590–1600 and originates from the Greek word hypóthesis (“basis, supposition”). Synonyms for hypothesis include: assumption , conclusion , conjecture , guess , inference , premise , theorem , and thesis .

How to use each

Although theory in terms of science is used to express something based on extensive research and experimentation, typically in everyday life, theory is used more casually to express an educated guess.

So in casual language,  theory and hypothesis are more likely to be used interchangeably to express an idea or speculation .

In most everyday uses, theory and hypothesis convey the same meaning. For example:

  • Her opinion is just a theory , of course. She’s just guessing.
  • Her opinion is just a hypothesis , of course. She’s just guessing.

It’s important to remember that a scientific   theory is different. It is based on tested results that support or substantiate it, whereas a hypothesis is formed before the research.

For example:

  • His  hypothesis  for the class science project is that this brand of plant food is better than the rest for helping grass grow.
  • After testing his hypothesis , he developed a new theory based on the experiment results: plant food B is actually more effective than plant food A in helping grass grow.

In these examples, theory “doesn’t mean a hunch or a guess,” according to Kenneth R. Miller, a cell biologist at Brown University. “A theory is a system of explanations that ties together a whole bunch of facts. It not only explains those facts, but predicts what you ought to find from other observations and experiments.”

So if you have a concept that is based on substantiated research, it’s a theory .

But if you’re working off of an assumption that you still need to test, it’s a hypothesis .

So remember, first comes a hypothesis , then comes theory . Now who’s ready for a  Big Bang Theory marathon?

Now that you’ve theorized and hypothesized through this whole article … keep testing your judgment (Or is it judgement?). Find out the correct spelling here!

Or find out the difference between these two common issues below!

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Hypothesis vs. Theory

A hypothesis is either a suggested explanation for an observable phenomenon, or a reasoned prediction of a possible causal correlation among multiple phenomena. In science , a theory is a tested, well-substantiated, unifying explanation for a set of verified, proven factors. A theory is always backed by evidence; a hypothesis is only a suggested possible outcome, and is testable and falsifiable.

Comparison chart

Examples of theory and hypothesis.

Theory: Einstein's theory of relativity is a theory because it has been tested and verified innumerable times, with results consistently verifying Einstein's conclusion. However, simply because Einstein's conclusion has become a theory does not mean testing of this theory has stopped; all science is ongoing. See also the Big Bang theory , germ theory , and climate change .

Hypothesis: One might think that a prisoner who learns a work skill while in prison will be less likely to commit a crime when released. This is a hypothesis, an "educated guess." The scientific method can be used to test this hypothesis, to either prove it is false or prove that it warrants further study. (Note: Simply because a hypothesis is not found to be false does not mean it is true all or even most of the time. If it is consistently true after considerable time and research, it may be on its way to becoming a theory.)

This video further explains the difference between a theory and a hypothesis:

Common Misconception

People often tend to say "theory" when what they're actually talking about is a hypothesis. For instance, "Migraines are caused by drinking coffee after 2 p.m. — well, it's just a theory, not a rule."

This is actually a logically reasoned proposal based on an observation — say 2 instances of drinking coffee after 2 p.m. caused a migraine — but even if this were true, the migraine could have actually been caused by some other factors.

Because this observation is merely a reasoned possibility, it is testable and can be falsified — which makes it a hypothesis, not a theory.

  • What is a Scientific Hypothesis? - LiveScience
  • Wikipedia:Scientific theory

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Comments: Hypothesis vs Theory

Anonymous comments (2).

October 11, 2013, 1:11pm "In science, a theory is a well-substantiated, unifying explanation for a set of verified, proven hypotheses." But there's no such thing as "proven hypotheses". Hypotheses can be tested/falsified, they can't be "proven". That's just not how science works. Logical deductions based on axioms can be proven, but not scientific hypotheses. On top of that I find it somewhat strange to claim that a theory doesn't have to be testable, if it's built up from hypotheses, which DO have to be testable... — 80.✗.✗.139
May 6, 2014, 11:45pm "Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things." this statement is poorly formed because it implies that a thing is a theory until it gets proven and then it is somehow promoted to fact. this is just a misunderstanding of what the words mean, and of how science progresses generally. to say that a theory is inherently dubious because "it isn't a fact" is pretty much a meaningless statement. no expression which qualified as a mere fact could do a very good job of explaining the complicated process by which species have arisen on Earth over the last billion years. in fact, if you claimed that you could come up with such a single fact, now THAT would be dubious! everything we observe in nature supports the theory of evolution, and nothing we observe contradicts it. when you can say this about a theory, it's a pretty fair bet that the theory is correct. — 71.✗.✗.151
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Home » Education » Difference Between Thesis and Hypothesis

Difference Between Thesis and Hypothesis

Main difference –  thesis vs hypothesis                           .

Thesis and hypothesis are two common terms that are often found in research studies. Hypothesis is a logical proposition that is based on existing knowledge that serves as the starting point of an investigation. A thesis is a statement that is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proved. The main difference between thesis and hypothesis is that thesis is found in all research studies whereas a hypothesis is mainly found in experimental quantitative research studies.

This article explains,

1. What is a Thesis?      – Definition, Features, Function

2. What is a Hypothesis?      – Definition, Features, Function

Difference Between Thesis and Hypothesis - Comparison Summary

What is a Thesis

The word thesis has two meanings in a research study. Thesis can either refer to a dissertation or a thesis statement. Thesis or dissertation is the long essay or document that consists of the research study.  Thesis can also refer to a theory or statement that is used as a premise to be maintained or proved.

The thesis statement in a research article is a sentence found at the beginning of the paper that presents the main argument of the paper. The rest of the document will gather, organize and present evidence to support this argument. The thesis statement will basically present the topic of the paper and indicate what position the researcher is going to take in relation to this topic. A thesis statement can generally be found at the end of the first paragraph (introductory paragraph) of the paper.

Main Difference - Thesis vs Hypothesis

What is a Hypothesis

A hypothesis is a logical assumption based on available evidence. Hypothesis is defined as “a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation” in the Oxford dictionary and as “an idea or theory that is not proven but that leads to further study or discussion” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. In simple words, it is an educated guess that is not proven with concrete scientific evidence. Once it is scientifically tested and proven, it becomes a theory. However, it is important to note that a hypothesis can be accurate or inaccurate.

Hypotheses are mostly used in experiments and research studies. However, hypotheses are not used in every research study. They are mostly used in quantitative research studies  that deal with experiments. Hypotheses are often used to test a specific model or theory . They can be used only when the researcher has sufficient knowledge about the subject since hypothesis are always based on the existing knowledge. Once the hypothesis is built, the researcher can find and analyze data and use them to prove or disprove the hypothesis.

Difference Between Thesis and Hypothesis - 1

Thesis: A thesis is a “statement or theory that is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proved” or a “long essay or dissertation involving personal research, written by a candidate for a university degree” (Oxford dictionary).

Hypothesis: A hypothesis is “a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation” (Oxford dictionary).

Thesis: Thesis statement can be found in all research papers.

Hypothesis: Hypotheses are usually found in experimental quantitative research studies.

Thesis: Thesis statement may explain the hypothesis and how the researcher intends to support it.

Hypothesis: Hypothesis is an educated guess based on the existing knowledge.

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Both the hypothesis statement and the thesis statement answer a research question. 

  • A hypothesis is a statement that can be proved or disproved. It is typically used in quantitative research and predicts the relationship between variables.  
  • A thesis statement is a short, direct sentence that summarizes the main point or claim of an essay or research paper. It is seen in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research. A thesis statement is developed, supported, and explained in the body of the essay or research report by means of examples and evidence.

Every research study should contain a concise and well-written thesis statement. If the intent of the study is to prove/disprove something, that research report will also contain a hypothesis statement.

NOTE: In some disciplines, the hypothesis is referred to as a thesis statement! This is not accurate but within those disciplines it is understood that "a short, direct sentence that summarizes the main point" will be included.

For more information, see The Research Question and Hypothesis (PDF file from the English Language Support, Department of Student Services, Ryerson University).

How do I write a good thesis statement?

How do I write a good hypothesis statement?

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  • Key Differences

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Difference Between Hypothesis and Theory

hypothesis vs theory

The term ‘hypothesis’ is often contrasted with the term theory which implies an idea, typically proven, which aims at explaining facts and events. Both hypothesis and theory are important components of developing an approach, but these are not same. There exist a fine line of difference between hypothesis and theory, discussed in this article, have a look.

Content: Hypothesis Vs Theory

Comparison chart, definition of hypothesis.

An unproven statement or a mere assumption to be proved or disproved, about a factor, on which the researcher is interested, is called a hypothesis. It is a tentative statement, which is concerned with the relationship between two or more phenomena, as specified by the theoretical framework. The hypothesis has to go through a test, to determine its validity.

In other words, the hypothesis is a predictive statement, which can be objectively verified and tested through scientific methods, and relates the independent factor to the dependent one. To a researcher, a hypothesis is more like a question which he intends to resolve. The salient features of hypothesis are:

  • It must be clear and precise or else the reliability of the inferences drawn will be questioned.
  • It can be put to the test.
  • If the hypothesis is relational, it should state the relationship between independent and dependent variables.
  • The hypothesis should be open and responsive to testing within the stipulated time.
  • It should be limited in scope and must be clearly defined.

Definition of Theory

An idea or a broad range of ideas that are assumed to be true, which aims at explaining cause and effect relationship between multiple observed phenomena. It is based on hypothesis, which after a thorough analysis and continuous testing and confirmation through observation and experiments, becomes a theory. As it is backed by evidence, it is scientifically proven.

Just like hypothesis, theories can also be accepted or rejected. As more and more information is gathered on the subject, theories are modified accordingly, to increase the accuracy of prediction over time.

Key Differences Between Hypothesis and Theory

The points given below are vital, so far as the difference between hypothesis and theory is concerned:

  • Hypothesis refers to a supposition, based on few pieces of evidence, as an inception of further research or investigation. A theory is a well-affirmed explanation of natural phenomena, which is frequently validated through experimentation and observation.
  • While the hypothesis is based on a little amount of data, the theory is based on a wide set of data.
  • The hypothesis is an unproven statement; that can be tested. On the other hand, the theory is a scientifically tested and proven explanation of fact or event.
  • Hypothesis relies on suggestions, prediction, possibility or projects whereas a theory is supported by evidence and is verified.
  • The hypothesis may or may not be proved true, so the result is uncertain. On the contrary, the theory is one, that is assumed to be true and so its result is certain.
  • Hypothesis and theory are two levels of the scientific method, i.e. theory follows hypothesis and the basis for research is hypothesis whose outcome is a theory.

Both hypothesis and theory are testable and falsifiable. When a hypothesis is proved true, by passing all critical tests and analysis, it becomes a theory. So, the hypothesis is very different from theory, as the former is something unproven but the latter is a proven and tested statement.

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hypothesis vs theory vs thesis

BELLENS MOTEBEJANE says

July 15, 2019 at 2:31 pm

AMAIZING !WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEORY AND LAW?

February 17, 2022 at 3:47 am

Thanks, I’m finally clear on this for the first time in my life of 65 years

Curtis Le Gendre says

September 14, 2022 at 8:02 am

Great Information

Kenneth says

November 19, 2022 at 2:10 am

I was looking for some takes on this topic, and I found your article quite informative. It has given me a fresh perspective on the topic tackled. Thanks!

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AllDifferences

The Real Differences Between Thesis and Hypothesis (With table)

A thesis and a hypothesis are two very different things, but they are often confused with one another. In this blog post, we will explain the differences between these two terms, and help you understand when to use which one in a research project.

As a whole, the main difference between a thesis and a hypothesis is that a thesis is an assertion that can be proven or disproven, while a hypothesis is a statement that can be tested by scientific research. 

We probably need to expand a bit on this topic to make things clearer for you, let’s start with definitions and examples.

Definitions

As always, let’s start with the definition of each term before going further.

hypothesis vs theory vs thesis

A thesis is a statement or theory that is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proved. A thesis statement is usually one sentence, and it states your position on the topic at hand.

A hypothesis is a statement that can be tested by scientific research. A hypothesis is usually based on observations, and it seeks to explain how these observations fit together.

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The best way to understand the slight difference between those terms, is to give you an example for each of them.

If you are writing a paper about the effects of climate change on the environment, your thesis might be “Climate change is causing irreparable damage to our planet, and we must take action to prevent further damage”.

If you observe that the leaves on a tree are turning yellow, your hypothesis might be “The tree is sick”. It’s the starting point of experimental research: what can you do then to prove if your hypothesis is right or wrong?

If your hypothesis is correct, then further research should be able to confirm it. However, if your hypothesis is incorrect, research will disprove it. Either way, a hypothesis is an important part of the scientific process.

Taking a look at the etymology of words can help you to remember which one to use is each case.

The word “thesis” comes from the Greek θέσις, meaning “something put forth”, and refers to an intellectual proposition.

The word “hypothesis” comes from the Greek words “hupo,” meaning “under”, and “thesis” that we just explained.

This reflects the fact that a hypothesis is an educated guess, based on observations.

Argumentation vs idea

Hypothesis are generally base on simple observation, while thesis imply that more work has been done on the topic.

A thesis is usually the result of extensive research and contemplation, and seeks to prove a point or theory.

A hypothesis is only a statement that need to be tested by observation or experimentation.

5 mains differences between thesis and hypothesis

Thesis and hypothesis are different in several ways, here are the 5 keys differences between those terms:

  • A thesis is a statement that can be argued, while a hypothesis cannot be argued.
  • A thesis is usually longer than a hypothesis.
  • A thesis is more detailed than a hypothesis.
  • A thesis is based on research, while a hypothesis may or may not be based on research.
  • A thesis must be proven, while a hypothesis need not be proven.

So, in short, a thesis is an argument, while a hypothesis is a prediction. A thesis is more detailed and longer than a hypothesis, and it is based on research. Finally, a thesis must be proven, while a hypothesis does not need to be proven.

Is there a difference between a thesis and a claim?

Yes, there is a difference between a thesis and a claim. A thesis statement is usually one sentence that states your main argument, while a claim is a more general statement that can be supported by evidence.

Is a hypothesis a prediction?

No, a hypothesis is not a prediction. A prediction is a statement about what you think will happen in the future, whereas a hypothesis is a statement about what you think is causing a particular phenomenon.

What’s the difference between thesis and dissertation?

A thesis is usually shorter and more focused than a dissertation, and it is typically achieved in order to earn a bachelor’s degree. A dissertation is usually longer and more comprehensive, and it is typically completed in order to earn a master’s or doctorate degree.

What is a good thesis statement?

A good thesis statement is specific, debatable, and supports the main point of the paper. It should be clear what the researcher position is, and what evidence they will use to support it.

Thanks for reading! I hope this post helped clear up the differences between thesis and hypothesis. Like that kind of comparison? These other articles might be interesting for you:

  • What is the Difference between Mandate and Law?
  • The 6 Differences Between Space And Universe
  • What’s the Difference Between Cosmology and Astrology?

hypothesis vs theory vs thesis

I am very curious and I love to learn about all types of subjects. Thanks to my experience on the web, I share my discoveries with you on this site :)

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Hypothesis, Model, Theory, and Law

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hypothesis vs theory vs thesis

  • M.S., Mathematics Education, Indiana University
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In common usage, the words hypothesis, model, theory, and law have different interpretations and are at times used without precision, but in science they have very exact meanings.

Perhaps the most difficult and intriguing step is the development of a specific, testable hypothesis. A useful hypothesis enables predictions by applying deductive reasoning, often in the form of mathematical analysis. It is a limited statement regarding the cause and effect in a specific situation, which can be tested by experimentation and observation or by statistical analysis of the probabilities from the data obtained. The outcome of the test hypothesis should be currently unknown, so that the results can provide useful data regarding the validity of the hypothesis.

Sometimes a hypothesis is developed that must wait for new knowledge or technology to be testable. The concept of atoms was proposed by the ancient Greeks , who had no means of testing it. Centuries later, when more knowledge became available, the hypothesis gained support and was eventually accepted by the scientific community, though it has had to be amended many times over the year. Atoms are not indivisible, as the Greeks supposed.

A model is used for situations when it is known that the hypothesis has a limitation on its validity. The Bohr model of the atom , for example, depicts electrons circling the atomic nucleus in a fashion similar to planets in the solar system. This model is useful in determining the energies of the quantum states of the electron in the simple hydrogen atom, but it is by no means represents the true nature of the atom. Scientists (and science students) often use such idealized models  to get an initial grasp on analyzing complex situations.

Theory and Law

A scientific theory or law represents a hypothesis (or group of related hypotheses) which has been confirmed through repeated testing, almost always conducted over a span of many years. Generally, a theory is an explanation for a set of related phenomena, like the theory of evolution or the big bang theory . 

The word "law" is often invoked in reference to a specific mathematical equation that relates the different elements within a theory. Pascal's Law refers an equation that describes differences in pressure based on height. In the overall theory of universal gravitation developed by Sir Isaac Newton , the key equation that describes the gravitational attraction between two objects is called the law of gravity .

These days, physicists rarely apply the word "law" to their ideas. In part, this is because so many of the previous "laws of nature" were found to be not so much laws as guidelines, that work well within certain parameters but not within others.

Scientific Paradigms

Once a scientific theory is established, it is very hard to get the scientific community to discard it. In physics, the concept of ether as a medium for light wave transmission ran into serious opposition in the late 1800s, but it was not disregarded until the early 1900s, when Albert Einstein proposed alternate explanations for the wave nature of light that did not rely upon a medium for transmission.

The science philosopher Thomas Kuhn developed the term scientific paradigm to explain the working set of theories under which science operates. He did extensive work on the scientific revolutions that take place when one paradigm is overturned in favor of a new set of theories. His work suggests that the very nature of science changes when these paradigms are significantly different. The nature of physics prior to relativity and quantum mechanics is fundamentally different from that after their discovery, just as biology prior to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is fundamentally different from the biology that followed it. The very nature of the inquiry changes.

One consequence of the scientific method is to try to maintain consistency in the inquiry when these revolutions occur and to avoid attempts to overthrow existing paradigms on ideological grounds.

Occam’s Razor

One principle of note in regards to the scientific method is Occam’s Razor (alternately spelled Ockham's Razor), which is named after the 14th century English logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham. Occam did not create the concept—the work of Thomas Aquinas and even Aristotle referred to some form of it. The name was first attributed to him (to our knowledge) in the 1800s, indicating that he must have espoused the philosophy enough that his name became associated with it.

The Razor is often stated in Latin as:

entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem
or, translated to English:
entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity

Occam's Razor indicates that the most simple explanation that fits the available data is the one which is preferable. Assuming that two hypotheses presented have equal predictive power, the one which makes the fewest assumptions and hypothetical entities takes precedence. This appeal to simplicity has been adopted by most of science, and is invoked in this popular quote by Albert Einstein:

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

It is significant to note that Occam's Razor does not prove that the simpler hypothesis is, indeed, the true explanation of how nature behaves. Scientific principles should be as simple as possible, but that's no proof that nature itself is simple.

However, it is generally the case that when a more complex system is at work there is some element of the evidence which doesn't fit the simpler hypothesis, so Occam's Razor is rarely wrong as it deals only with hypotheses of purely equal predictive power. The predictive power is more important than the simplicity.

Edited by Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

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Frequently asked questions

Should i use a research question, hypothesis, or thesis statement.

The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .

A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

Frequently asked questions: Writing a research paper

A research project is an academic, scientific, or professional undertaking to answer a research question . Research projects can take many forms, such as qualitative or quantitative , descriptive , longitudinal , experimental , or correlational . What kind of research approach you choose will depend on your topic.

The best way to remember the difference between a research plan and a research proposal is that they have fundamentally different audiences. A research plan helps you, the researcher, organize your thoughts. On the other hand, a dissertation proposal or research proposal aims to convince others (e.g., a supervisor, a funding body, or a dissertation committee) that your research topic is relevant and worthy of being conducted.

Formulating a main research question can be a difficult task. Overall, your question should contribute to solving the problem that you have defined in your problem statement .

However, it should also fulfill criteria in three main areas:

  • Researchability
  • Feasibility and specificity
  • Relevance and originality

Research questions anchor your whole project, so it’s important to spend some time refining them.

In general, they should be:

  • Focused and researchable
  • Answerable using credible sources
  • Complex and arguable
  • Feasible and specific
  • Relevant and original

All research questions should be:

  • Focused on a single problem or issue
  • Researchable using primary and/or secondary sources
  • Feasible to answer within the timeframe and practical constraints
  • Specific enough to answer thoroughly
  • Complex enough to develop the answer over the space of a paper or thesis
  • Relevant to your field of study and/or society more broadly

Writing Strong Research Questions

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement .

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

Your research objectives indicate how you’ll try to address your research problem and should be specific:

Research objectives describe what you intend your research project to accomplish.

They summarize the approach and purpose of the project and help to focus your research.

Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper , at the end of your problem statement .

The main guidelines for formatting a paper in Chicago style are to:

  • Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman
  • Use 1 inch margins or larger
  • Apply double line spacing
  • Indent every new paragraph ½ inch
  • Include a title page
  • Place page numbers in the top right or bottom center
  • Cite your sources with author-date citations or Chicago footnotes
  • Include a bibliography or reference list

To automatically generate accurate Chicago references, you can use Scribbr’s free Chicago reference generator .

The main guidelines for formatting a paper in MLA style are as follows:

  • Use an easily readable font like 12 pt Times New Roman
  • Set 1 inch page margins
  • Include a four-line MLA heading on the first page
  • Center the paper’s title
  • Use title case capitalization for headings
  • Cite your sources with MLA in-text citations
  • List all sources cited on a Works Cited page at the end

To format a paper in APA Style , follow these guidelines:

  • Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman or 11 pt Arial
  • If submitting for publication, insert a running head on every page
  • Apply APA heading styles
  • Cite your sources with APA in-text citations
  • List all sources cited on a reference page at the end

No, it’s not appropriate to present new arguments or evidence in the conclusion . While you might be tempted to save a striking argument for last, research papers follow a more formal structure than this.

All your findings and arguments should be presented in the body of the text (more specifically in the results and discussion sections if you are following a scientific structure). The conclusion is meant to summarize and reflect on the evidence and arguments you have already presented, not introduce new ones.

The conclusion of a research paper has several key elements you should make sure to include:

  • A restatement of the research problem
  • A summary of your key arguments and/or findings
  • A short discussion of the implications of your research

Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.

This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .

The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:

  • A hook to catch the reader’s interest
  • Relevant background on the topic
  • Details of your research problem

and your problem statement

  • A thesis statement or research question
  • Sometimes an overview of the paper

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ESLBUZZ

Hypothesis vs. Theory: A Simple Guide to Tell Them Apart

By: Author ESLBUZZ

Posted on Last updated: July 27, 2023

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Hypothesis and theory are no stranger to those who conduct studies and work in science. These two terms are often used interchangeably by non-researchers, but they have distinct meanings in the scientific community. Understanding the difference between a hypothesis and a theory is essential for anyone interested in scientific research or critical thinking.

In this article, we will explore the differences between hypothesis and theory and provide examples to help you understand how they are used in scientific research. We will also discuss the importance of these terms in the scientific method and how they contribute to our understanding of the natural world. Whether you are a student, a researcher, or simply someone interested in science, this article will provide valuable insights into the world of scientific research.

To help illustrate the differences between hypothesis and theory, we will provide a comparison table that summarizes the key differences between these two terms and examples of how scientists use hypotheses and theories to explain natural phenomena and make predictions about future events. By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of the differences between hypothesis and theory and how they are used in scientific research.

Hypothesis vs. Theory

Hypothesis vs. Theory: A Simple Guide to Tell Them Apart

Hypothesis vs. Theory: Definitions

Understanding hypothesis.

A hypothesis is an educated guess or assumption that is made before conducting research. It is a tentative explanation for a phenomenon or observation that is based on limited evidence or prior knowledge. In other words, a hypothesis is a statement that proposes a relationship between two or more variables, which can be tested through further investigation.

Characteristics of Hypothesis

Hypotheses have certain characteristics that set them apart from other types of statements. These characteristics include:

  • Testable: A hypothesis must be testable through empirical research. This means that it must be possible to collect data that can either support or refute the hypothesis.
  • Specific: A hypothesis must be specific in its predictions. It should clearly state what is expected to happen and under what conditions.
  • Falsifiable: A hypothesis must be falsifiable, which means that it must be possible to disprove the hypothesis if it is not supported by the evidence.
  • Parsimonious: A hypothesis should be simple and straightforward. It should not include unnecessary assumptions or variables.

Examples of Hypothesis

Here are some examples of hypotheses:

  • If a plant is exposed to sunlight, then it will grow faster than a plant that is not exposed to sunlight.
  • If a person consumes more calories than they burn, then they will gain weight.
  • If students are given more time to study for an exam, then they will perform better on the exam.

In summary, a hypothesis is an educated guess or assumption that is made before conducting research. It is testable, specific, falsifiable, and parsimonious. Examples of hypotheses include statements that propose a relationship between two or more variables, which can be tested through further investigation.

Understanding Theory

Definition of Theory

In scientific terms, a theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is based on empirical evidence. It is a collection of ideas that have been tested and confirmed through observation and experimentation. A theory is a framework that explains how and why things work in a certain way. It is a set of principles that can be used to make predictions about future events.

Characteristics of Theory

A theory has several characteristics that distinguish it from other scientific concepts such as hypotheses or laws. Some of the key characteristics of a theory are:

  • A theory is based on empirical evidence and is supported by multiple lines of evidence.
  • A theory is constantly evolving and can be modified or refined as new evidence emerges.
  • A theory is generally accepted as true by the scientific community and is widely used to make predictions and guide research.
  • A theory is not a guess or a hunch, but a well-substantiated explanation that has been rigorously tested.

Examples of Theory

There are many examples of well-established theories in science. Here are a few examples:

In summary, a theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is based on empirical evidence. It is a framework that explains how and why things work in a certain way and is constantly evolving as new evidence emerges. Theories are widely accepted as true by the scientific community and are used to make predictions and guide research.

Hypothesis vs. Theory: The Distinctions

As a writer, it is important to understand the differences between a hypothesis and a theory. These two scientific terms are often used interchangeably, but they have drastically different meanings in the world of science. In this section, we will explore the process of formulation, level of proof, and usage in the scientific community.

Process of Formulation

A hypothesis is an educated guess or assumption made before any research has been done. It is formed so that it can be tested to see if it might be true. Hypotheses are often based on observations or previous research and can be either proven or disproven through experimentation.

On the other hand, a theory is a well-established principle that is formed to explain the things already shown in data. Theories are based on a large body of evidence and have been extensively tested and proven through experimentation. The formulation of a theory requires a lot of research, experimentation, and analysis.

Level of Proof

The level of proof required for a hypothesis and a theory is vastly different. A hypothesis requires a certain level of proof to be considered valid, but it can still be disproven through experimentation. In contrast, a theory has been extensively tested and proven through experimentation, and therefore requires a much higher level of proof to be disproven.

Usage in Scientific Community

In the scientific community, hypotheses and theories play different roles. Hypotheses are used to generate predictions and testable explanations for phenomena, while theories are used to explain and predict a wide range of phenomena. Hypotheses are usually the starting point for research, while theories are the end result of extensive research and experimentation.

To summarize, a hypothesis is an educated guess or assumption made before any research has been done, while a theory is a well-established principle that is formed to explain the things already shown in data. Hypotheses require a certain level of proof to be considered valid, while theories require a much higher level of proof. In the scientific community, hypotheses are used to generate predictions and testable explanations for phenomena, while theories are used to explain and predict a wide range of phenomena.

Hypothesis vs. Theory: Common Misconceptions

When it comes to scientific research, there are several misconceptions about the differences between hypothesis and theory. In this section, we’ll explore some of the most common misconceptions and clarify the differences between these two scientific terms.

Misconception #1: Hypotheses are less important than theories

One common misconception is that hypotheses are less important than theories. This is not true. A hypothesis is the foundation of scientific research, as it is a proposed explanation for an observation or phenomenon. Without a hypothesis, there can be no scientific investigation.

Misconception #2: Hypotheses are guesses

Another common misconception is that hypotheses are guesses. While a hypothesis is an educated guess, it is not a random or arbitrary guess. A hypothesis is based on prior knowledge, observations, and data. It is a proposed explanation that can be tested through experimentation.

Misconception #3: Theories are proven facts

Many people believe that theories are proven facts. This is not true. A theory is a well-substantiated explanation for a set of observations or phenomena. It is based on a large body of evidence and has been repeatedly tested and confirmed through experimentation. However, theories are not absolute truths and are subject to revision or rejection based on new evidence.

Misconception #4: Hypotheses become theories

Some people believe that hypotheses become theories once they are proven. This is not true. A hypothesis can be supported or rejected by experimental evidence, but it does not become a theory. A theory is a broader explanation that encompasses many hypotheses and has been extensively tested and confirmed.

Misconception #5: Theories are more certain than hypotheses

Another common misconception is that theories are more certain than hypotheses. While theories are based on a large body of evidence and have been extensively tested, they are not absolute truths. Theories are subject to revision or rejection based on new evidence, just like hypotheses.

In summary, hypotheses and theories are both important components of scientific research. Hypotheses are proposed explanations that can be tested through experimentation, while theories are well-substantiated explanations that have been extensively tested and confirmed. While there are many misconceptions about the differences between hypotheses vs. theory, understanding these differences is crucial for conducting scientific research.

In conclusion, while the terms “hypothesis” and “theory” are often used interchangeably, they have distinct differences in the scientific method. A hypothesis is an assumption made before any research has been done, formed so that it can be tested to see if it might be true. On the other hand, a theory is a principle formed to explain the things already shown in data.

One way to differentiate between a hypothesis and a theory is to consider the level of evidence supporting each. A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon, but it is not yet supported by sufficient evidence. In contrast, a theory is a well-established explanation for a phenomenon that has been supported by a large body of evidence.

Another way to differentiate between a hypothesis and a theory is to consider their role in the scientific method. A hypothesis is an initial step in the scientific method, where a researcher formulates a testable prediction about a phenomenon. A theory, on the other hand, is the end result of the scientific method, where a researcher has tested and confirmed a hypothesis over time.

It is important to note that a hypothesis can eventually become a theory if it is repeatedly tested and supported by evidence. However, a theory can never become a hypothesis, as it is already a well-established explanation for a phenomenon.

In summary, understanding the differences between hypothesis and theory is crucial for conducting and interpreting scientific research. By using these terms correctly, researchers can communicate their ideas clearly and accurately, contributing to the advancement of scientific knowledge.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you distinguish between hypothesis and theory?

A hypothesis is an educated guess or a proposed explanation for an observation or phenomenon. It is a tentative explanation that can be tested through experiments and observations. On the other hand, a theory is a well-established explanation that has been supported by a large body of evidence. The main difference between a hypothesis and a theory is that a hypothesis is a proposed explanation that needs to be tested, while a theory is a well-supported explanation that has been tested and confirmed by multiple lines of evidence.

What is the difference between a theory and a hypothesis in biology?

In biology, a hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a biological phenomenon that can be tested through experiments and observations. For example, a biologist might propose a hypothesis to explain why a particular species of bird has a particular beak shape. A theory in biology, on the other hand, is a well-established explanation that has been supported by a large body of evidence. For example, the theory of evolution is a well-established explanation for the diversity of life on Earth.

What is an example of a theory statement?

A theory statement is a statement that summarizes a well-established explanation for a phenomenon. For example, the theory of relativity is a statement that summarizes Einstein’s well-established explanation for the behavior of objects in space and time.

How are hypotheses and theories similar and different?

Both hypotheses and theories are proposed explanations for phenomena. However, while hypotheses are tentative and need to be tested, theories are well-established and have been supported by a large body of evidence. In addition, hypotheses are often specific to a particular observation or phenomenon, while theories are more general and can explain a wide range of phenomena.

What are some examples of the differences between a hypothesis and a theory?

An example of a hypothesis might be that a particular drug will cure a particular disease. An example of a theory might be the theory of plate tectonics, which explains the movement of the Earth’s crust. The main difference between these two examples is that the first is a tentative explanation that needs to be tested, while the second is a well-established explanation that has been supported by a large body of evidence.

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A theory statement is a statement that summarizes a well-established explanation for a phenomenon. For example, the theory of relativity is a statement that summarizes Einstein's well-established explanation for the behavior of objects in space and time.

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The best way to distinguish between hypotheses and theories is to remember that hypotheses are tentative explanations that need to be tested, while theories are well-established explanations that have been supported by a large body of evidence.

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An example of a hypothesis might be that a particular drug will cure a particular disease. An example of a theory might be the theory of plate tectonics, which explains the movement of the Earth's crust. The main difference between these two examples is that the first is a tentative explanation that needs to be tested, while the second is a well-established explanation that has been supported by a large body of evidence.

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1.3: Hypothesis, Theories, and Laws

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  Learning Objectives

  • Describe the difference between hypothesis and theory as scientific terms.
  • Describe the difference between a theory and scientific law.

Although many have taken science classes throughout the course of their studies, people often have incorrect or misleading ideas about some of the most important and basic principles in science. Most students have heard of hypotheses, theories, and laws, but what do these terms really mean? Prior to reading this section, consider what you have learned about these terms before. What do these terms mean to you? What do you read that contradicts or supports what you thought?

What is a Fact?

A fact is a basic statement established by experiment or observation. All facts are true under the specific conditions of the observation.

What is a Hypothesis?

One of the most common terms used in science classes is a "hypothesis". The word can have many different definitions, depending on the context in which it is being used:

  • An educated guess: a scientific hypothesis provides a suggested solution based on evidence.
  • Prediction: if you have ever carried out a science experiment, you probably made this type of hypothesis when you predicted the outcome of your experiment.
  • Tentative or proposed explanation: hypotheses can be suggestions about why something is observed. In order for it to be scientific, however, a scientist must be able to test the explanation to see if it works and if it is able to correctly predict what will happen in a situation. For example, "if my hypothesis is correct, we should see ___ result when we perform ___ test."
A hypothesis is very tentative; it can be easily changed.

What is a Theory?

The United States National Academy of Sciences describes what a theory is as follows:

"Some scientific explanations are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them. The explanation becomes a scientific theory. In everyday language a theory means a hunch or speculation. Not so in science. In science, the word theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature supported by facts gathered over time. Theories also allow scientists to make predictions about as yet unobserved phenomena."

"A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation. Such fact-supported theories are not "guesses" but reliable accounts of the real world. The theory of biological evolution is more than "just a theory." It is as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter (stating that everything is made of atoms) or the germ theory of disease (which states that many diseases are caused by germs). Our understanding of gravity is still a work in progress. But the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is an accepted fact.

Note some key features of theories that are important to understand from this description:

  • Theories are explanations of natural phenomena. They aren't predictions (although we may use theories to make predictions). They are explanations as to why we observe something.
  • Theories aren't likely to change. They have a large amount of support and are able to satisfactorily explain numerous observations. Theories can, indeed, be facts. Theories can change, but it is a long and difficult process. In order for a theory to change, there must be many observations or pieces of evidence that the theory cannot explain.
  • Theories are not guesses. The phrase "just a theory" has no room in science. To be a scientific theory carries a lot of weight; it is not just one person's idea about something
Theories aren't likely to change.

What is a Law?

Scientific laws are similar to scientific theories in that they are principles that can be used to predict the behavior of the natural world. Both scientific laws and scientific theories are typically well-supported by observations and/or experimental evidence. Usually scientific laws refer to rules for how nature will behave under certain conditions, frequently written as an equation. Scientific theories are more overarching explanations of how nature works and why it exhibits certain characteristics. As a comparison, theories explain why we observe what we do and laws describe what happens.

For example, around the year 1800, Jacques Charles and other scientists were working with gases to, among other reasons, improve the design of the hot air balloon. These scientists found, after many, many tests, that certain patterns existed in the observations on gas behavior. If the temperature of the gas is increased, the volume of the gas increased. This is known as a natural law. A law is a relationship that exists between variables in a group of data. Laws describe the patterns we see in large amounts of data, but do not describe why the patterns exist.

What is a Belief?

A belief is a statement that is not scientifically provable. Beliefs may or may not be incorrect; they just are outside the realm of science to explore.

Laws vs. Theories

A common misconception is that scientific theories are rudimentary ideas that will eventually graduate into scientific laws when enough data and evidence has accumulated. A theory does not change into a scientific law with the accumulation of new or better evidence. Remember, theories are explanations and laws are patterns we see in large amounts of data, frequently written as an equation. A theory will always remain a theory; a law will always remain a law.

Video \(\PageIndex{1}\): What’s the difference between a scientific law and theory?

  • A hypothesis is a tentative explanation that can be tested by further investigation.
  • A theory is a well-supported explanation of observations.
  • A scientific law is a statement that summarizes the relationship between variables.
  • An experiment is a controlled method of testing a hypothesis.

Contributions & Attributions

Marisa Alviar-Agnew  ( Sacramento City College )

Henry Agnew (UC Davis)

hypothesis vs theory vs thesis

Difference Between Hypothesis And Theory

Some of you may believe that hypothesis and a theory are the same thing. After all, they are usually used in a similar context and these can be seen in science and countless books. Well, hypothesis vs theory is an interesting comparison. First of all, these two are not the same thing and in the scientific community these have a massive set of differences. Below we are going to explain all of the things you need to know.

Difference Between Hypothesis And Theory

  • 1 What is a Hypothesis?
  • 2 What is a Theory?
  • 3 The Final Word

What is a Hypothesis?

The first thing you need to understand is what a hypothesis is. In the lack of a better word, it is something that you will guess based on limited data. It can be related to observable phenomena which is common among scientific hypothesis options. This doesn’t always require a tentative explanation. A hypothesis means an educated guess and it doesn’t have to collect a lot of data or massive testing. It is something you believe might have happened and you want to make an argument. ”A hypothesis is a mandatory thing to understand by all students. It has a huge role in education and it is something I personally invest a lot of time to use properly every single time. It is easier than it sounds and after some practice all students will understand it” says Ben Willis, a professional writer at PapersOwl who has been helping students for over 5 years.

Hypothesis is simple, basic and not something that wasn’t properly tested. It can be tested and it is not something that is well-sustained. These are the main differences compared to a theory.

Think like this. You believe that space is limitless. This is your hypothesis and you have just formed it. You can defend it, you can argue that you are right or you can believe another one is wrong. In the previous year you had another opinion. In the next year you will have a new one. The goal here is to have a fast opinion and to be able to share it. Previous year you had something similar or completely different. In a nutshell, you need a few seconds to form one, single hypothesis. On the other hand you would need months or even years to create a theory. You need many hypotheses in order to make one, single theory.

What is a Theory?

You learned what a hypothesis is and you can see when and how you can use one. During your education you will probably use many of these. There is no need to add that you will also learn and use a lot of dissertation and thesis elements and these are something you need to know as well. A theory is more. While hypotheses are proposed explanations, scientific theories are explanations or proof of many hypotheses. We can say that a theory is more advanced than a hypothesis and it consists of many beliefs and arguments. A theory is based on a lot of testing, data and it can prove or disprove a hypothesis. It is well-tested and well-sustained which if you recall are completely opposite things in the first case scenario. In scientific evidence, such as general relativity a theory has a much higher impact. It is a general principle and it also reveals a scientific method used. A scientific theory is more complicated and will be accepted in the scientific world. You can see theories from cell biologists or countless other scientists from Brown University widely accepted. You can also see that the Big Bang Theory is a theory rather than hypothesis. In scientific terms an assumption was made but after countless observations, research and testing.

Difference Between Hypothesis And Theory 2

In the natural world a theory can mean a lot and in science it is all about this matter. In science you can have countless words used to explain one. In everyday language you probably won’t. As class science goes theory has a huge role in all of this. You can even test some of these and enjoy the tests. Research must be done carefully. Years ago we saw explanations from Kenneth R and these are still important. Theory is all about facts, a law and contains a lot of hypotheses.

If we take the example at the beginning we can see that theory is different. In the previous year you had that hypothesis. Now you should be focused on theory. You need to prove and research that space is limitless. You need evidence, formulas, explanation and so much more. In other words, you need to prove your hypothesis and you need to do it properly and scientifically while following countless rules and laws. So, the next person who reads your paper will believe that space is limitless. This is obviously a plain and extremely hard example but you get an idea.

The Final Word

In the end we can say that the difference here is massive. Hypotheses can be made every single day. You need any phenomena you like and you can form your own opinion. It is a guess of one thing and it cannot be based on a lot of data. It is a scientific argument. A theory is far more complex. It is based and formed after research and it can consist of hundreds of arguments. In other words, you can have countless hypotheses in a day but you will need years to create one theory. Now you know the difference and make sure to apply this to your education.

Differences Between an Essay and a Research Paper

COMMENTS

  1. Hypothesis vs. Theory: The Difference Explained

    In scientific reasoning, they're two completely different things What to Know A hypothesis is an assumption made before any research has been done. It is formed so that it can be tested to see if it might be true. A theory is a principle formed to explain the things already shown in data.

  2. Thesis vs Hypothesis vs Theory: the Differences and examples

    The link between a hypothesis and thesis is that a thesis is a distinction or an affirmation of the hypothesis. What this means is that whenever a research paper contains a hypothesis, there should be a thesis that validates it. What is a Hypothesis?

  3. "Theory" vs. "Hypothesis": What Is The Difference?

    Hypothesis also refers to "a proposition assumed as a premise in an argument," or "mere assumption or guess." For example: She decided to drink more water for a week to test out her hypothesis that dehydration was causing her terrible headaches.

  4. Hypothesis vs. Theory: Understanding Scientific Concepts

    Frequently Asked Questions The Main Difference Between Hypothesis and Theory Hypothesis vs. Theory: Key Takeaways A hypothesis is a preliminary assumption to be tested. A theory is a well-supported explanation for a broad range of phenomena. Hypothesis vs. Theory: The Definition What Does Hypothesis Mean?

  5. Hypothesis vs Theory

    Comparison chart Differences — Similarities — Examples of Theory and Hypothesis "No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong." — Albert Einstein

  6. Theory vs. Hypothesis: Basics of the Scientific Method

    Science & Tech Theory vs. Hypothesis: Basics of the Scientific Method Written by MasterClass Last updated: Jun 7, 2021 • 2 min read Though you may hear the terms "theory" and "hypothesis" used interchangeably, these two scientific terms have drastically different meanings in the world of science.

  7. Difference Between Thesis and Hypothesis

    The main difference between thesis and hypothesis is that thesis is found in all research studies whereas a hypothesis is mainly found in experimental quantitative research studies. This article explains, 1. What is a Thesis? - Definition, Features, Function 2. What is a Hypothesis? - Definition, Features, Function 3.

  8. Theory, Thesis, Hypothesis and the mysterious Theorem

    It consists of axioms/theses. Theorem: This is something that I was not really able to figure out. I found a pattern in theoremes: It always seems to be based on some theory and tries to solve some paradoxon or other problem the theory has, but it does not change the theory at all. It is some lego that is put on the theory to fill a hole.

  9. What is the difference between a thesis statement and a hypothesis

    A hypothesis is a statement that can be proved or disproved. It is typically used in quantitative research and predicts the relationship between variables. A thesis statement is a short, direct sentence that summarizes the main point or claim of an essay or research paper. It is seen in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research.

  10. Primary Difference Between Hypothesis and Theory

    Image Credits The primary difference between a hypothesis and a theory is the point at which they are formed in the scientific process. A hypothesis is made before an experiment while a theory is formed after collecting a lot of scientific evidence. Explore how these terms differ from each other and similar science terms. Definition of Hypothesis

  11. Difference Between Hypothesis and Theory (with Comparison Chart)

    While the hypothesis is based on a little amount of data, the theory is based on a wide set of data. The hypothesis is an unproven statement; that can be tested. On the other hand, the theory is a scientifically tested and proven explanation of fact or event. Hypothesis relies on suggestions, prediction, possibility or projects whereas a theory ...

  12. The Real Differences Between Thesis and Hypothesis (With table)

    As a whole, the main difference between a thesis and a hypothesis is that a thesis is an assertion that can be proven or disproven, while a hypothesis is a statement that can be tested by scientific research. We probably need to expand a bit on this topic to make things clearer for you, let's start with definitions and examples.

  13. Theory vs. Hypothesis: Differences, Definition and Types

    Key takeaways Both a theory and hypothesis have a place in the scientific method and their primary difference is when they occur in this type of research. Scientists, researchers and psychologists commonly use theories to guide their studies and develop hypotheses.

  14. Hypothesis, Model, Theory, and Law

    A scientific theory or law represents a hypothesis (or group of related hypotheses) which has been confirmed through repeated testing, almost always conducted over a span of many years. Generally, a theory is an explanation for a set of related phenomena, like the theory of evolution or the big bang theory . The word "law" is often invoked in ...

  15. Should I use a research question, hypothesis, or thesis ...

    A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement. A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

  16. Hypothesis vs. Theory

    Learn the fundamental characteristics of hypothesis vs theory. Understand how a hypothesis becomes a theory and the steps involved in this process with examples. Updated: 11/21/2023

  17. Hypothesis vs. Theory: A Simple Guide to Tell Them Apart

    A hypothesis is an educated guess or a proposed explanation for an observation or phenomenon. It is a tentative explanation that can be tested through experiments and observations. On the other hand, a theory is a well-established explanation that has been supported by a large body of evidence.

  18. What is the difference between hypothesis, thesis statement and

    Thesis statement -- A definitive statement about the way the world (or your system of interest) works, especially what is most important in causing or influencing the behavior of the system. "Family expectations has primary significance on the performance in college for Latino girls in the Western US" is an example of a thesis statement.

  19. Theory Vs. Hypothesis: Definitions, Differences, and Examples

    Updated September 30, 2022 Scientists and researchers regularly develop theories and hypotheses when observing conditions in nature. While these scientific concepts are similar, they also have distinct differences as they occur at different stages of the scientific method.

  20. 1.3: Hypothesis, Theories, and Laws

    A hypothesis is a tentative explanation that can be tested by further investigation. A theory is a well-supported explanation of observations. A scientific law is a statement that summarizes the relationship between variables. An experiment is a controlled method of testing a hypothesis.

  21. Theory vs Thesis: Differences And Uses For Each One

    The theory is an idea or a set of ideas that explain something, while the thesis is a statement that presents an argument or claim. When writing an academic paper, it is important to have a clear thesis statement that lays out the main argument and guides the reader through the paper.

  22. PDF Understanding Hypotheses, Predictions, Laws, and Theories

    A (causal) hypothesis does not become a theory if it subsequently becomes well-supported by evidence. Definitions The following definitions are used in this paper: A (causal) hypothesis is a proposed explanation. A prediction is the expected result of a test that is derived, by deduction, from a hypothesis or theory. (may become)

  23. Difference Between Hypothesis And Theory

    A theory is more. While hypotheses are proposed explanations, scientific theories are explanations or proof of many hypotheses. We can say that a theory is more advanced than a hypothesis and it consists of many beliefs and arguments. A theory is based on a lot of testing, data and it can prove or disprove a hypothesis.