What is a Null Hypothesis? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Is a Null Hypothesis?
  • 1:08 What Is an Alternative…
  • 1:55 Examples
  • 3:01 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Karin Gonzalez

Karin has taught middle and high school Health and has a master's degree in social work.

This lesson will give the definition of a null hypothesis, as well as an alternative hypothesis. Examples will be given to clearly illustrate the concept of a null hypothesis versus an alternative hypothesis.

What Is a Null Hypothesis?

A hypothesis is a speculation or theory based on insufficient evidence that lends itself to further testing and experimentation. With further testing, a hypothesis can usually be proven true or false. Let's look at an example. Little Susie speculates, or hypothesizes, that the flowers she waters with club soda will grow faster than flowers she waters with plain water. She waters each plant daily for a month (experiment) and proves her hypothesis true!

A null hypothesis is a hypothesis that says there is no statistical significance between the two variables in the hypothesis. It is the hypothesis that the researcher is trying to disprove. In the example, Susie's null hypothesis would be something like this: There is no statistically significant relationship between the type of water I feed the flowers and growth of the flowers. A researcher is challenged by the null hypothesis and usually wants to disprove it, to demonstrate that there is a statistically-significant relationship between the two variables in the hypothesis.

What Is an Alternative Hypothesis?

An alternative hypothesis simply is the inverse, or opposite, of the null hypothesis. So, if we continue with the above example, the alternative hypothesis would be that there IS indeed a statistically-significant relationship between what type of water the flower plant is fed and growth. More specifically, here would be the null and alternative hypotheses for Susie's study:

Null: If one plant is fed club soda for one month and another plant is fed plain water, there will be no difference in growth between the two plants.

Alternative: If one plant is fed club soda for one month and another plant is fed plain water, the plant that is fed club soda will grow better than the plant that is fed plain water.


Example 1:

Null Hypothesis: The Earth is flat.

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