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Hypothesis and Predictions
•Most research studies are attempts to test a hypothesis formulated by the
researcher. A hypothesis is really a type of idea or question; it makes a
statement about something that may be true. A hypothesis therefore is only
a tentative idea or question that is waiting for evidence to support or refute
it. Sometimes, hypotheses are very general and informal questions.
•Hypotheses are often stated in more formal and specific terms. Usually such
formal hypotheses state that two or more variables are related to one
another. Thus, researchers might formulate hypotheses such as “crowding
results in reduced performance on cognitive tasks”. Such hypotheses are
formulated on the basis of past research findings and theoretical
considerations. The researcher will then design a study to test the
•At this point, the researcher would make a specific prediction concerning
the outcome of this experiment. If the prediction if confirmed by the results
of the study, the hypothesis is supported. If the prediction is not confirmed,
the researcher will either reject the hypothesis or conduct further research
using different methods to study the hypothesis. It is important to note that
when the results of a study confirm a prediction, the hypothesis is only
supported, not proven. Researchers study the same hypothesis using a
variety of methods, and each time this hypothesis is supported by a research
study, we become more confident that the hypothesis is correct.
Who We Study: A Note on Terminology
•We have been using the term participants to refer to individuals who
participate in research projects are called subjects.
•Others terms are called respondents and informants. The individuals who
take part in surveys research are usually called respondents. Informants are
the people who help researchers understand the dynamics of particular
cultural and organizational settings.
Sources of Ideas
•Many people are capable of coming up with worthwhile ideas but find it
difficult to verbalize the process by which they are generated.
•Five sources of ideas are: common sense, observation of the world around us,
theories, past research, and practical problems.
•One source of ideas that can be tested is the body of knowledge called
common sense—the things we all believe to be true.
•Testing a commonsense idea can be valuable because such notions don’t
always turn out to be correct, or research may show that the real world is
much more complicated than our commonsense ideas would have it.
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