Hypothesis vs Theory

Hypothesis
Theory

A hypothesis is either a suggested explanation for an observable phenomenon, or a reasoned prediction of a possible causal correlation among multiple phenomena. In science, a theory is a tested, well-substantiated, unifying explanation for a set of verified, proven hypotheses. A theory is always backed by evidence; a hypothesis is only a suggested possible outcome, and is testable and falsifiable.


Comparison chart

Edit this comparison chart

Hypothesis

Theory

Definition A suggested explanation for an observable phenomenon or prediction of a possible causal correlation among multiple phenomena. In science, a theory is a well-substantiated, unifying explanation for a set of verified, proven hypotheses.
Based on Suggestion, possibility, projection or prediction, but the result is uncertain. Certainty, evidence, verification, repeated testing.
Testable Yes Yes
Falsifiable Yes Yes
Is well substantiated No Yes
Data Usually based on very limited data Based on a very wide set of data tested under various circumstances.
Instance Specific: Hypothesis is usually based on a very specific observation and is limited to that instance. General: A theory is the establishment of a general principle through multiple tests and experiments, and this principle may apply to various specific instances.

edit Examples of Theory and Hypothesis

Theory: Einstein's Theory of Relativity. This is a theory because it has been tested innumerable times, verified, and the result invariably only verifies the conclusion.

Hypothesis: If a prisoner learns a work skill while in jail, it is less likely that she will commit a crime when released. This is a hypothesis, because it just makes sense to the logical mind, but there's no evidence this will happen time and again with exactly the same result.

This video further explains the difference between a theory and a hypothesis:

edit Common Misconception

People often tend to say "theory" when what they're actually talking about is a hypothesis. For instance, "Migraines are caused by drinking coffee after 2 p.m. - well, it's just a theory, not a rule."

This is actually a logically reasoned proposal based on an observation - say 2 instances of drinking coffee after 2 p.m. caused a migraine - but even if this were true, the migraine could have actually been caused by some other factors.

Because this observation is merely a reasoned possibility, it is testable and can be falsified - which makes it a hypothesis, not a theory.

edit References

Comments: Hypothesis vs Theory

Your IP address will be logged and parts of it shown publicly.
Write <youtube v=YouTubeVideoID /> to embed a YouTube video in your comment.
Comments with links (URLs) are not allowed because we get overrun by spam.

October 11, 2013, 1:11pm

"In science, a theory is a well-substantiated, unifying explanation for a set of verified, proven hypotheses."

But there's no such thing as "proven hypotheses". Hypotheses can be tested/falsified, they can't be "proven". That's just not how science works. Logical deductions based on axioms can be proven, but not scientific hypotheses.

On top of that I find it somewhat strange to claim that a theory doesn't have to be testable, if it's built up from hypotheses, which DO have to be testable...

— 80.✗.✗.139
0
Stay informed Related Comparisons
Follow Diffen
Make Diffen Smarter.

Log in to edit comparisons or create new comparisons in your area of expertise!

Sign up »
Top 5 Comparisons Recently Compared

share

Up next

Arbitrarily Large vs. Sufficiently Large