Hypothesis Testing


In statistics, hypothesis testing (also known as significance testing) is a fundamental procedure used to make inferences about a population based on data obtained from a sample. It allows researchers to assess the plausibility of a particular assumption or theory about the population.

Key Concepts

  • Null Hypothesis (H0): A statement representing the default or currently accepted assumption about a population parameter (e.g., mean, proportion). It is typically an assertion of no difference or no effect.
  • Alternative Hypothesis (Ha): A statement that contradicts the null hypothesis and represents the claim the researcher hopes to support. It usually suggests a difference or an effect exists within the population.
  • Test Statistic: A value calculated from the sample data that is used to make a decision about the null hypothesis. Common test statistics include the z-score, t-score, chi-squared statistic, and F-statistic.
  • P-value: The probability of obtaining a test statistic as extreme or more extreme than the one observed, assuming the null hypothesis is true. A small p-value indicates strong evidence against the null hypothesis.
  • Significance Level (α): A predetermined threshold for rejecting the null hypothesis. If the p-value is less than α, the null hypothesis is rejected in favor of the alternative hypothesis. Common values for α are 0.05 and 0.01.

Steps in Hypothesis Testing

  1. Formulate Hypotheses: State the null hypothesis (H0) and the alternative hypothesis (Ha).
  2. Select a Test Statistic: Choose a test statistic appropriate for the data type and hypotheses.
  3. Set the Significance Level: Decide on the significance level (α) to determine how much evidence is required to reject the null hypothesis.
  4. Collect the Data: Obtain a random sample from the population.
  5. Calculate the Test Statistic: Calculate the value of the test statistic from the sample data.
  6. Determine the P-value: Calculate the probability of obtaining the observed test statistic (or one more extreme) if the null hypothesis is true.
  7. Make a Decision: Compare the p-value to the significance level. If the p-value is less than α, reject the null hypothesis. Otherwise, fail to reject the null hypothesis.
  8. Interpret the Results: Formulate a conclusion in the context of the research question.

Types of Hypothesis Tests

  • One-Sample Tests: Used to compare a sample statistic to a hypothesized population parameter.
    • Z-test: Used when the population standard deviation is known.
    • t-test: Used when the population standard deviation is unknown.
  • Two-Sample Tests: Used for comparing two independent samples.
    • Two-sample t-test: Compares the means of two independent groups.
    • Chi-squared test of independence: Examines whether there is an association between two categorical variables.
  • Paired Tests Used for comparing two related samples (e.g., before-and-after measurements).
    • Paired t-test: Compares the means of two dependent groups.
  • Analysis of Variance (ANOVA): Used to compare means among three or more groups.


Hypothesis testing plays a crucial role in numerous fields including:

  • Scientific research: Testing theories and drawing conclusions about experimental outcomes.
  • Medicine: Evaluating the effectiveness of new drugs or treatments.
  • Business: Assessing consumer preferences or marketing strategies.
  • Quality control: Identifying defects in manufacturing processes.