The word hypothesis comes from the Ancient Greek ὑπόθεσις, (hupothesis) meaning "to put under" or "to suppose". A hypothesis "is a proposition, or set of propositions, set forth as an explanation for the occurrence of some specified group of phenomena, either asserted merely as a provisional conjecture to guide investigation or accepted as highly probable in the light of established facts" (Webster dictionary).

Scientists generally base scientific hypotheses on previous observations that cannot satisfactorily be explained with the available scientific theories. A scientific hypothesis is a proposed explanation of a phenomenon which still has to be rigorously tested (Wise Geek, 2012).

In common usage, in the 21st century, a hypothesis refers to a provisional idea whose merit requires evaluation. For proper evaluation, the framer of a hypothesis needs to define specifics in operational terms. A hypothesis requires work by the researcher in order to either confirm or disprove it. In due course, a confirmed hypothesis may become part of a theory or occasionally may grow to become a theory itself.

In Policy Making theories, an example of rational expectations hypothesis has been used to support some strong conclusions about economic policy making, the the Policy Ineffectiveness Proposition developed by Thomas Sargent (Sargent, T. J., 1987).


Webster’s Encyclopaedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Gramercy books (1989)

Wise Geek (2012). What is the Difference between a Theory and a Hypothesis?. Wise Geek. Retrieved 17 December 2012.

Sargent, T. J. (1987). Rational expectations, The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics, v. 4, pp. 76–79.

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