What is Null Hypothesis?

Statistical information without context or contrast is meaningless. Anyone looking at a data set can find connections and discover patterns, but they’ll probably end up drawing all kinds of wrong conclusions. That’s why statisticians have to examine the data from two different perspectives and always consider how the information they are studying supports the “counter-argument” to their objectives.

The null hypothesis of an analysis is basically the “devil’s advocate” position. It represents the claim that there is no correlation or meaningful pattern linking the studied variables together. Proving or identifying this link between dependent and independent variables is the central purpose of most statistical analyses.

Statisticians use very specific terminology when referring to the results of their analysis. If the study “fails to disprove the null hypothesis,” then they did not find enough evidence in favor of their position. Failure to disprove the null hypothesis is the same as finding support for the alternative hypothesis.

The Benefits of Null Hypothesis

The null hypothesis position is a necessary contrast when making any kind of meaningful claim based on statistical evidence. No data set is perfect or comprehensive and analysts are only human. There are always margins of error, complicating factors and unknown variables.

The real benefit of using a null hypothesis is establishing relativity. If statisticians want to determine if certain variables are related, then they need to put limits on what the word “related” really means. Any two things in the world can be related if you think about it hard enough. However, this isn’t a useful attitude for a meaningful analysis. That’s why setting a “fail” post alongside the “success” post means you just need to see which one is closer.

How to Create Null Hypothesis

The first step in developing a null hypothesis is to adopt the contrary perspective. The statistician must assume there is no meaningful correlation between the variables and then compose a hypothesis accordingly.

What is Alternative Hypothesis?

The alternative hypothesis is essentially the other half of the null hypothesis. This term describes any kind of proposed relationship between the independent and dependent variables that is being examined. The alternative doesn’t have to be specific. It includes any kind of relationship between variables regardless of type or research goals.

The Benefits of Alternative Hypothesis

The benefits of the alternative-null method is to get a simple answer to an important question. Before businesses can use statistical information in a profitable way, they have to know if there are meaningful correlations between variables. This analysis lights the way for further study and research to develop more detailed strategies for specific changes.

How to Create Alternative Hypothesis

Setting an alternative hypothesis requires at least some understanding of the ultimate objectives. Statistics is all about answering specific questions. It’s not always useful for general education. Researchers need to understand how to frame the data and what points are the real priorities.

Null vs. Alternative Hypothesis: What’s the Difference?

In the context of statistics, null and alternative hypothesis are complimentary concepts. Using one means you must use the other. Much like “night and day,” these two terms only have meaning or relevance when used opposite one another.

The simplest way to understand the difference is that null means nothing and alternative means something. If the data fails to disprove the null hypothesis, then there are no useful conclusions to draw. It means the data was more likely a result of randomness rather than pattern.

On the other hand, the alternative is just about anything else. If the data is more likely to reflect any kind of meaningful relationship between variables then the data is said to support the alternative hypothesis.

Null vs. Alternative Hypothesis: Who would use Null Hypothesis and Alternative Hypothesis?

This type of statistical methodology is a valuable tool for any kind of business leader or consultant. Developing and testing hypotheses is an essential part of the classic Six Sigma DMAIC strategy. This kind of statistical analysis also plays a key role in continuous improvement, so there’s no way to get away from it as long as you are applying statistics best practices.

Choosing Between Null vs. Alternative Hypothesis: Real World Scenarios

A natural health company wants to be able to show the benefits of some of their products by leveraging user data. The only way to do this is to gather relevant information about people who have used these products before. The company must either commission or design their own study to gather enough data to work with.

Since they are a health company serving people, personal fitness and well-being are the basic benchmarks. The alternative hypothesis in this case is that the products are beneficial to health and happiness. This could be supported in a number of ways, like gauging self-reported information, logging exercise routines or other tests. The null hypothesis is simply the claim that there is no correlation between people who used the products and their ultimate health or fitness.

Appreciate Failure Standards

Statistics would be meaningless without a form of failure standard. Businesses don’t do themselves any favors by embracing wishful or incomplete statistical practices. Just because a study doesn’t align with expectations or desires doesn’t always mean bad news and it definitely shouldn’t be changed to suit the demands of the situation. Leaders need to appreciate the method behind the analysis so they can truly understand how to make the most out of data tools.

About the Author