Stating Hypotheses

Today, I'd like to cover interpretive clarity in writing about your hypotheses and results. Many beginning writers on SEM simply restate the numerical information from their output, tables, and figures, without providing substantive interpretations.

Earl Babbie's textbook, The Practice of Social Research (2007, 11th ed.) contains a guest essay by Riley E. Dunlap, entitled "Hints for Stating Hypotheses" (p. 47). Here is an excerpt of what I believe is the key advice:

The key is to word the hypothesis carefully so that the prediction it makes is quite clear to you as well as others. If you use age, note that saying "Age is related to attitudes toward women's liberation" does not say precisely how you think the two are related... You have two options:"

1. "Age is related to attitudes toward women's liberation, with younger adults being more supportive than older adults"...

2. "Age is negatively related to support for women's liberation"...

As Dunlap demonstrates, these two statements of the hypothesis let the reader know with specificity which people are expected to hold which type of attitudes (I have added the color and bold emphases above).

Results should be described similarly -- not just that a standardized regression path between Construct A and Construct B was .46, but that (given the positively signed relationship) the more respondents do whatever is embodied in Construct A, the more they also do what is embodied in Construct B.

One of my SEM-based publications from several years ago, which is accessible on TTU computers via Google Scholar, can serve as a guide.

Thomas, G., Reifman, A., Barnes, G.M., & Farrell, M.P. (2000). Delayed onset of drunkenness as a protective factor for adolescent alcohol misuse and sexual risk-taking: A longitudinal study. Deviant Behavior, 21, 181-210.

(Added April 29, 2015): This webpage explains the distinction between a hypothesis (when you have a prediction) and a research question (when you don't).