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7.01 Hypotheses

In this module we’ll talk about statistical hypotheses. They form the main ingredients of the method of significance testing. An hypothesis is nothing more than an expectation about a population. When we conduct a significance test, we use (just like when we construct a confidence interval) sample data to draw inferences about population parameters. The significance test is, therefore, also a method of inferential statistics. We’ll show that each significance test is based on two hypotheses: the null hypothesis and the alternative hypothesis. When you do a significance test, you assume that the null hypothesis is true unless your data provide strong evidence against it. We’ll show you how you can conduct a significance test about a mean and how you can conduct a test about a proportion. We’ll also demonstrate that significance tests and confidence intervals are closely related. We conclude the module by arguing that you can make right and wrong decisions while doing a test. Wrong decisions are referred to as Type I and Type II errors.

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