Hypotheses: An investigator cannot enter in any field with a blank mind. Normally he or she begins the task of investigation with some ideas about the subject matter vaguely formulated. Having thus entered the field of investigation, he or she proceeds to find out whether these ideas what he or she has conceived are true or false. They may be totally correct or only partially so, or may be altogether false but as a guide to understanding the problem on hand, these ideas are very useful. These primary ideas which guide the investigator in his study may be termed as hypothesis.

The concept of hypothesis has been defined by various scientists in their own ways. Hypo means “less than” and thesis means “a generally held view”. Etymologically speaking thus the word hypothesis connotes “a less than generally held view”. It is an assumption or supposition whose validity is to be tested.

a) Definition: A hypothesis is a tentative answer to a research problem, expressed in the form of a clearly stated relation between the independent and the dependent variables. Hypotheses are tentative answers because they can be verified only after they have been tested empirically.

            According to Rumel and Belline “a hypothesis is a statement capable of being tested and thereby verified or rejected”.

            According to Goode and Hatt “hypothesis is a shrewd guess that is formulated and provisionally adopted to explain observed facts, or conditions and to guide in further investigation”. They further add that “it is a proposition which can be put to test to determine its validity. It may prove to be correct or incorrect”.

In the words of George Lundberg, “a hypothesis is a tentative generalization, the validity of which remains to be tested. In its most elementary stage the hypothesis may be any hunch, guess, imaginative idea, which becomes the basis for action or investigation”.

Barr and Scates define hypothesis as “a hypothesis is a statement temporarily accepted as true… when the hypothesis is fully established, it may take the form of facts, principles or theories”.

According to Webster, “a hypothesis is a proposition, condition or principle which is assumed, perhaps without belief in order to draw out its logical consequences and by this method to test its accord with facts which are known or may be determined”.

Kerlinger states “a hypothesis is a conjectural statement of relation between two or more variables. Hypothesis are always in declarative sentence form and they relate whether generally or specifically variables to variables”.

James E. Creighlon defines hypothesis as “a tentative supposition or provisional guess which seems to explain the situation under observation”.

In the opinion of J. S. Mill “a hypothesis is only an unproved supposition, a weak form of proposition”.

Hypothesis simply means a mere assumption or some supposition to be proved or disproved. It is a preposition or a set of proposition set forth as an explanation for the occurrence of some specified group of phenomena either asserted merely as a provisional conjecture to guide some investigation or accepted as highly probable in the light of established facts. Quite often a research hypothesis is a predictive statement capable of being tested by scientific methods that relates an independent variable to some dependent variable. It is a statement in a research, which the study might prove or disprove.

b) Types of Hypothesis: There are different approaches to classify the hypothesis. Some of them are listed below-

i) Goode and Hatt Classification: According to Goode and Hatt, there are mainly two types of hypothesis

* Crude Hypothesis: A crude hypothesis is at the low level of abstraction. It indicates the kind of data to be collected and it does not lead to higher theoretical research.

* Refined Hypothesis: Refined hypothesis are of three types- simple level, complex ideal and very complex. Simple Level indicates merely the uniformity in social behavior. It does not involve much verification. Complex Ideal Hypothesis is at higher level of abstraction. This hypothesis examines the logically derived relations between the empirical uniformities. This type of hypothesis is useful in developing tools of analysis. It provides constructs for further hypothesizing. The Very Complex Hypothesis is concerned with the interrelations of multiple variables.

ii) P. V. Young Classification: Young refers to mainly two types of hypothesis-Working Hypothesis and Explanatory Hypothesis. Working Hypothesis is a provisional central idea which becomes the basis for fruitful investigation. The Explanatory Hypothesis refers to the scope of going into the depth and width with various possibilities so far invisible.
iii) Statistical Analysis: In the context of statistical analysis, a hypothesis may be any one of the following types-

* Null Hypothesis: Null means Zero. The null hypothesis is a statistical proposition which states, essentially that, there is no relation between the variable (of the problem). When a hypothesis is stated negatively, then it is called as a null hypothesis. A null hypothesis is used to collect additional support for the known hypothesis. The null hypothesis says, “You are wrong, there is no relation, disprove me if you can”. The objective of the null hypothesis is to avoid personal bias of the investigator in the matter of data collection.

* Alternative Hypothesis: That which is concluded rejecting the null hypothesis is known as alternative hypothesis. Alternative hypothesis is formulated embracing a whole range of values rather than a single point.

For example:

HA = the males visited cinema more than the female.

H0= the males and females do not different in respect of the frequency of seeing cinema.

So, alternative hypothesis is usually the one which one wishes to prove and the null hypothesis is the one which one wishes to disprove.

iv) Others: Hypothesis may further be classified into Descriptive Hypothesis and Rational Hypothesis. Descriptive hypothesis are propositions that typically state the existence, size, form, or distribution of some variables. The Rational hypothesis on the other hand is a statement that describes the relationship between two variables. Eg. Families with higher income spend more for recreation.

c) Difficulties in Formulating a Hypothesis: According to Goode and Hatt, the following difficulties arise in formulating the hypothesis-

i) Lack of Previous Knowledge of the Field of Enquiry: In the absence of knowledge concerning a subject matter, one can make no well founded judgment of relevance hypothesis.
ii) Lack of Clear Theoretical Background: Hypothesis do not have a clear cut and definitive theoretical background, partly it is a matter of lifting upon an idea on some problem.
iii) Lack of Logical Background: Formulation of proper hypothesis to a great extent depends on one’s experience and logical insight.

iv) Lack of Knowledge of Scientific Method: It is not always possible to have complete information of and acquaintance with the scientific methods for formulating hypothesis. This lack of scientific knowledge presents difficulty in formulation of hypothesis.

d) Functions of Hypothesis: Cohen and Nagel’s are of the view that we cannot take a single step forward in any inquiry without a hypothesis. Without hypothesis mere collection of data is likely to lead the researcher anywhere without aim and produce no result. The main functions of hypothesis are-

i) Prevent Blind Research: It spells out the difference between precision and haphazard research, between fruitful and fruitless research. It helps in selecting pertinent factors. It makes the enquiry more specific and to the point.

ii) Foundation of Research: The hypotheses are the foundation of scientific research. If a proper hypothesis is formulated then one fourth of the research works comes to an end.

iii) New Experiment and Observation: A hypothesis what we are looking for is a proposition which can be put to test to determine its validity.

iv) Provide Direction to Research: Hypothesis shows the line, in which way the researcher has to proceed. Hypothesis is investigator’s eye – a sort of guiding light in the world of research darkness to identify which is relevant and which is irrelevant

v) Link the Investigation with Theory: Hypothesis is necessary to link between investigation and theory, which lead to the discovery of additional knowledge.

vi) Serve as a Framework for Drawing Meaningful Conclusion: Direct answer to the hypothesis being tested.

vii) Lead to Discovery of Laws: Hypothesis leads one to the discovery of laws and theory.

e) Conclusion: A hypothesis looks forward. It is a proposition which can be put to an empirical test to determine its validity. Every worthwhile theory permits the formulation of additional hypothesis. These, when tested, are either proved or disproved and thus in their own constitute further tests of the original theory.