Hypothesis vs. Theory

The difference between hypothesis and theory can be considered as a hypothesis is a statement which is unproved and merely a supposition which may be proved or disproved about a factor while a theory is an idea or collection of ideas that are supposed to be correct and explains the relationship between cause and relationship between multiple phenomena.

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Hypothesis vs. Theory

A hypothesis is a proposed, testable statement about a factor that may prove correct or false after conducting experiments while a theory is a tested, scientifically proven, well-substantiated statement about a phenomenon that is proven and considered correct.

A hypothesis is stated before the conduction of an experiment about a phenomenon merely by observation while the theory is stated after conducting multiple experiments which prove the hypothetical statement true.

Observations make the base of hypothesis while experiments make the base of the theory. If a theory is proven correct after a number of experiments related to the idea and nobody can prove it
false, it is given the status of “Law”.  For example, ‘light travels in a straight path’ is a universally accepted law.

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The hypothesis can be accepted or rejected. There are equal chances for a hypothesis to be accepted or rejected after the conductions of experiments related to it while theories are not rejected most of the time. They are multiple time-tested and scientifically proven statements, so there is almost no chance for a theory to be rejected.

A hypothesis is just a predictive statement about a phenomenon of nature while a theory is a definite statement. For example, if we say that a ‘fungus damages the food’. It is just a proposed
statement based on the observation which may prove true or false after the experiment, so it is a hypothesis. If we arrange an experiment to test either fungus really damages food or not. After conduction of experiment, it is proved that fungus is really responsible for the damage of food. Now we can claim with surety that ‘a fungus definitely damages the food’. Now it is a theory because it is tested and proven true.

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A hypothesis is based on small-sized data while a theory is based on large-sized data because, in the hypothesis, observations play a key role while in theory, experiments play a key role. So data size expands.

A hypothesis is proposed before any research work merely by asking questions. Conversely saying a theory is a principle which is made after proper research work, data collection and
analysis. The hypothesis is based on possibility or projection while the theory is based on verification and evidence. A hypothesis is a next step to observation related to that
phenomenon, and a theory is a next step to the hypothesis in scientific method derived from a number of
experiments.  Hypothesis generation is the 2nd step in the scientific method while theory formulation is the 4th step in the scientific method.

Contents: Difference between Hypothesis and Theory

Comparison Chart

Basis Hypothesis Theory
Definition A hypothesis is a statement which is merely a
supposition and not proved yet.
A theory is a statement which is proved, tested and
well substantiated after multiple experiments.
Relation with experiment A hypothesis is stated before the conduction of
experiment.
A theory is stated after the conduction of one or
more experiments.
Base Observation makes the base of the hypothesis. Experiments make the base of theory.
Status in the scientific
method
Hypothesis generation is the 2nd step in
the scientific method.
Theory generation is the 4ht step in the scientific
method.
Chances to be accepted or rejected There are equal chances for a hypothesis to be
accepted or rejected after the conduction of experiment.
There are negligible chances for a theory to be
rejected because it is tested multiple times by multiple people.
Type of statement A hypothesis is just a predictive statement about a
phenomenon.
A theory is a definite statement about a phenomenon.
Data size A hypothesis is based on small-sized data. A theory is based on large-sized
data.
Relation to research work A hypothesis is established before any research work
just by asking questions.
A theory is established after proper research work
including data collection, testing and analysis.
Example A fungus damages the food. A fungus definitely damages the food.

What is a Hypothesis?

A hypothesis is a supposition, something assumed for the argument so that it will be tested in the future to see if it is right or wrong. In the scientific method, a hypothesis is generated after observation of a phenomenon, so it is the 2nd step in the scientific method, the 1st one is the observation. A hypothesis is a primary tool in the research work that provides the base for new experiments. A hypothesis provides a proposed “cause and effect relationship” between natural ongoing processes.

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Although both the hypothesis and theory are the base of the scientific process, they are not the same. A hypothesis is not tested and scientifically proven. It relied merely on observation, and it may be accepted or rejected after testing and experiments. It is based on small-sized data which is obtained by asking questions. After tests and experiments, if the hypothesis is proved correct, it is accepted. Otherwise, it is rejected. A hypothesis is just a predictive statement, which can be objectively tested and confirmed through scientific methods and creates the relation between the independent factors of nature.

A hypothesis must have the following characteristics

  • It should
    be precise and clear and must be told
    about a natural ongoing process.
  • It can be
    tested.
  • If the
    hypothesis states the relationship between 2 factors, it must relate the
    independent variable with the dependent
    variable.
  • It should
    be based on observation and questions asked related to that phenomenon.

The example of the hypothesis can be given as a scientist observed that the faeces of the patients suffering form gastritis contained Helicobacter pylori bacterium. After multiple observations, he stated the hypothesis that Helicobacter pylori cause gastritis.

What is Theory?

A theory is an idea or multiple ideas that are supposed to be true which explain the cause and effect relationship between multiple phenomena of nature. It is based on a hypothesis which is proved true after the conduction of experiments. It is proved scientifically and accepted by everyone. A theory is a principle that has been made to explain the things that have been proved by proper research work. A theory is formulated after conduction of multiple experiments and testing the hypothesis many times. It is based on large sized data because it includes the result of multiple experiments by multiple people. It always relies on the evidence and its result is certain.

Theory generation is the 4th step in the scientific method; the 1st three are observation, hypothesis and experiment. If a theory is tested multiple times over a large period of time at multiple places by multiple people and all the attempts to prove it wrong become fail, a theory is given the status of “Law”. For example, light travels in a straight path is a scientifically proven and accepted law. Just like hypothesis, theories can also be accepted or rejected; there are very small chances for them to be rejected as compared to hypothesis because a theory is formulated after many experiments and tests.  With the passage of time, as more information is collected about the facts, the theories are modified accordingly.

The example of a theory can be given as, the scientist who observed Helicobacter pylori in the faeces of the patients of gastritis, he conducted many experiments to prove that the patient who eats the food contaminated with Helicobacter pylori really end up suffering from gastritis and then it is given the status of theory that “Helicobacter causes gastritis”.

Key Differences between Hypothesis and Theory

  1. A hypothesis is a statement which is mere an assumption and not scientifically proved while a theory is scientifically proved and accepted statement which explains any natural phenomenon.
  2. A hypothesis is based on small-sized data while a theory is based on large-sized data.
  3. A hypothesis is stated merely after observation while a theory is formulated after conducting multiple experiments.
  4. There are equal chances for a hypothesis to be accepted or rejected while a theory is rejected rarely because it is tested and proven scientifically.
  5. A hypothesis is a 2nd step in the scientific method while theory generation is the 4th step in the scientific method.

Conclusion

Hypothesis and theory both have the basic importance in the scientific method because they are necessary to understand the laws of nature. When a hypothesis is proved true after multiple experiments, it is accepted as a theory. In the above article, we learnt the differences in hypothesis and theory which are mistakenly interpreted in the same meaning.

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