# Hypotheses; directional and non-directional

### What is the difference between an experimental and an alternative hypothesis?

Nothing much! If the study is a laboratory experiment then we can call the hypothesis “an experimental hypothesis”, where we make a prediction about how the IV causes an effect on the DV. If we have a non-experimental design, i.e. we are not able to manipulate the IV as in a natural or quasi-experiment , or if some other research method has been used, then we call it an “alternativehypothesis”, alternative to the null.

Directional hypothesis: A directional (or one tailed hypothesis) states which way you think the results are going to go, for example in an experimental study we might say…”Participants who have been deprived of sleep for 24 hours will have more cold symptoms in the following week after exposure to a virus than participants who have not been sleep deprived”; the hypothesis compares the two groups/conditions and states which one will ….have more/less, be quicker/slower, etc.

If we had a correlational study, the directional hypothesis would state whether we expect a positive or a negative correlation, we are stating how the two variables will be related to each other, e.g. there will be a positive correlation between the number of stressful life events experienced in the last year and the number of coughs and colds suffered, whereby the more life events you have suffered the more coughs and cold you will have had”. The directional hypothesis can also state a negative correlation, e.g. the higher the number of face-book friends, the lower the life satisfaction score “

Non-directional hypothesis: A non-directional (or two tailed hypothesis) simply states that there will be a difference between the two groups/conditions but does not say which will be greater/smaller, quicker/slower etc. Using our example above we would say “There will be a difference between the number of cold symptoms experienced in the following week after exposure to a virus for those participants who have been sleep deprived for 24 hours compared with those who have not been sleep deprived for 24 hours.”

When the study is correlational, we simply state that variables will be correlated but do not state whether the relationship will be positive or negative, e.g. there will be a significant correlation between variable A and variable B.

Null hypothesis The null hypothesis states that the alternative or experimental hypothesis is NOT the case, if your experimental hypothesis was directional you would say…

Participants who have been deprived of sleep for 24 hours will NOT have more cold symptoms in the following week after exposure to a virus than participants who have not been sleep deprived and any difference that does arise will be due to chance alone.

or with a directional correlational hypothesis….

There will NOT be a positive correlation between the number of stress life events experienced in the last year and the number of coughs and colds suffered, whereby the more life events you have suffered the more coughs and cold you will have had”

With a non-directional or  two tailed hypothesis…

There will be NO difference between the number of cold symptoms experienced in the following week after exposure to a virus for those participants who have been sleep deprived for 24 hours compared with those who have not been sleep deprived for 24 hours.

or for a correlational …

there will be NO correlation between variable A and variable B.

When it comes to conducting an inferential stats test, if you have a directional hypothesis, you must do a one tailed test to find out whether your observed value is significant. If you have a non-directional hypothesis, you must do a two tailed test.

• Remember, a decent hypothesis will contain two variables, in the case of an experimental hypothesis there will be an IV and a DV; in a correlational hypothesis there will be two co-variables
• both variables need to be fully operationalised to score the marks, that is you need to be very clear and specific about what you mean by your IV and your DV; if someone wanted to repeat your study, they should be able to look at your hypothesis and know exactly what to change between the two groups/conditions and exactly what to measure (including any units/explanation of rating scales etc, e.g. “where 1 is low and 7 is high”)
• double check the question, did it ask for a directional or non-directional hypothesis?
• if you were asked for a null hypothesis, make sure you always include the phrase “and any difference/correlation (is your study experimental or correlational?) that does arise will be due to chance alone”

## Practice Questions:

1. Mr Faraz wants to compare the levels of attendance between his psychology group and those of Mr Simon, who teaches a different psychology group. Which of the following is a suitable directional (one tailed) hypothesis for Mr Faraz’s investigation?

A There will be a difference in the levels of attendance between the two psychology groups.

B Students’ level of attendance will be higher in Mr Faraz’s group than Mr Simon’s group.

C Any difference in the levels of attendance between the two psychology groups is due to chance.

D The level of attendance of the students will depend upon who is teaching the groups.

2. Tracy works for the local council. The council is thinking about reducing the number of people it employs to pick up litter from the street. Tracy has been asked to carry out a study to see if having the streets cleaned at less regular intervals will affect the amount of litter the public will drop. She studies a street to compare how much litter is dropped at two different times, once when it has just been cleaned and once after it has not been cleaned for a month.

Write a fully operationalised non-directional (two-tailed) hypothesis for Tracy’s study. (2)

3. Jamila is conducting a practical investigation to look at gender differences in carrying out visuo-spatial tasks. She decides to give males and females a jigsaw puzzle and will time them to see who completes it the fastest. She uses a random sample of pupils from a local school to get her participants.

(a) Write a fully operationalised directional (one tailed) hypothesis for Jamila’s study. (2) (b) Outline one strength and one weakness of the random sampling method. You may refer to Jamila’s use of this type of sampling in your answer. (4)

4. Which of the following is a non-directional (two tailed) hypothesis?

A There is a difference in driving ability with men being better drivers than women

B Women are better at concentrating on more than one thing at a time than men

C Women spend more time doing the cooking and cleaning than men

D There is a difference in the number of men and women who participate in sports

## Revision Activity

writing-hypotheses-revision-sheet