Concept of Hypothesis Testing: Logic and Importance

Hypothesis Testing

Hypothesis testing was introduced by Ronald Fisher, Jerzy Neyman, Karl Pearson and Pearson’s son, Egon Pearson.   Hypothesis testing is a statistical method that is used in making statistical decisions using experimental data.  Hypothesis Testing is basically an assumption that we make about the population parameter.

Hypothesis Testing is done to help determine if the variation between or among groups of data is due to true variation or if it is the result of sample variation. With the help of sample data we form assumptions about the population, then we have to test our assumptions statistically. This is called Hypothesis testing.

Key terms and concepts:

(i) Null hypothesis: Null hypothesis is a statistical hypothesis that assumes that the observation is due to a chance factor.  Null hypothesis is denoted by; H0: μ1 = μ2, which shows that there is no difference between the two population means.

(ii) Alternative hypothesis: Contrary to the null hypothesis, the alternative hypothesis shows that observations are the result of a real effect.

(iii) Level of significance: Refers to the degree of significance in which we accept or reject the null-hypothesis.  100% accuracy is not possible for accepting or rejecting a hypothesis, so we therefore select a level of significance that is usually 5%.

(iv) Type I error: When we reject the null hypothesis, although that hypothesis was true.  Type I error is denoted by alpha.  In hypothesis testing, the normal curve that shows the critical region is called the alpha region.

(v) Type II errors: When we accept the null hypothesis but it is false.  Type II errors are denoted by beta.  In Hypothesis testing, the normal curve that shows the acceptance region is called the beta region.

(vi) Power: Usually known as the probability of correctly accepting the null hypothesis.  1-beta is called power of the analysis.

(vii) One-tailed test: When the given statistical hypothesis is one value like H0: μ1 = μ2, it is called the one-tailed test.

(viii) Two-tailed test: When the given statistics hypothesis assumes a less than or greater than value, it is called the two-tailed test.

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Importance of Hypothesis Testing

Hypothesis testing is one of the most important concepts in statistics because it is how you decide if something really happened, or if certain treatments have positive effects, or if groups differ from each other or if one variable predicts another. In short, you want to proof if your data is statistically significant and unlikely to have occurred by chance alone. In essence then, a hypothesis test is a test of significance.

Possible Conclusions

Once the statistics are collected and you test your hypothesis against the likelihood of chance, you draw your final conclusion. If you reject the null hypothesis, you are claiming that your result is statistically significant and that it did not happen by luck or chance. As such, the outcome proves the alternative hypothesis. If you fail to reject the null hypothesis, you must conclude that you did not find an effect or difference in your study. This method is how many pharmaceutical drugs and medical procedures are tested.

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