How to write a hypothesis for correlation

Written by brian gabriel
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How to write a hypothesis for correlation
A hypothesis for correlation predicts a statistically significant relationship. (Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

A hypothesis is a testable statement about how something works in the natural world. While some hypotheses predict a causal relationship between two variables, other hypotheses predict a correlation between them. According to the Research Methods Knowledge Base, a correlation is a single number that describes the relationship between two variables. If you do not predict a causal relationship or cannot measure one objectively, state clearly in your hypothesis that you are merely predicting a correlation.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Research the topic in depth before forming a hypothesis. Without adequate knowledge about the subject matter, you will not be able to decide whether to write a hypothesis for correlation or causation. Read the findings of similar experiments before writing your own hypothesis.

  2. 2

    Identify the independent variable and dependent variable. Your hypothesis will be concerned with what happens to the dependent variable when a change is made in the independent variable. In a correlation, the two variables undergo changes at the same time in a significant number of cases. However, this does not mean that the change in the independent variable causes the change in the dependent variable.

  3. 3

    Construct an experiment to test your hypothesis. In a correlative experiment, you must be able to measure the exact relationship between two variables. This means you will need to find out how often a change occurs in both variables in terms of a specific percentage.

  4. 4

    Establish the requirements of the experiment with regard to statistical significance. Instruct readers exactly how often the variables must correlate to reach a high enough level of statistical significance. This number will vary considerably depending on the field. In a highly technical scientific study, for instance, the variables may need to correlate 98 per cent of the time; but in a sociological study, 90 per cent correlation may suffice. Look at other studies in your particular field to determine the requirements for statistical significance.

  5. 5

    State the null hypothesis. The null hypothesis gives an exact value that implies there is no correlation between the two variables. If the results show a percentage equal to or lower than the value of the null hypothesis, then the variables are not proven to correlate.

  6. 6

    Record and summarise the results of your experiment. State whether or not the experiment met the minimum requirements of your hypothesis in terms of both percentage and significance.

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