# 9.1: Null and Alternative Hypotheses

The actual test begins by considering two hypotheses. They are called the null hypothesis and the alternative hypothesis. These hypotheses contain opposing viewpoints.

H0 (The null hypothesis): It is a statement about the population that either is believed to be true or is used to put forth an argument unless it can be shown to be incorrect beyond a reasonable doubt.

H(The alternative hypothesis): It is a claim about the population that is contradictory to H0 and what we conclude when we reject H0.

Since the null and alternative hypotheses are contradictory, you must examine evidence to decide if you have enough evidence to reject the null hypothesis or not. The evidence is in the form of sample data.

After you have determined which hypothesis the sample supports, you make a decision. There are two options for a decision.

They are either:

1. “reject H0” if the sample information favors the alternative hypothesis.
2. “do not reject H0” / “decline to reject H0” if the sample information is insufficient to reject the null hypothesis.

Mathematical Symbols Used in H0 and Ha:

H0 Ha
equal (=) not equal (≠) or greater than (>) or less than (<)
greater than or equal to (≥) less than (<)
less than or equal to (≤) more than (>)

#### Note:

H0 always has a symbol with an equal in it. Ha never has a symbol with an equal in it.
The choice of symbol depends on the wording of the hypothesis test.
However, be aware that many researchers (including one of the co-authors in research work) use = in the null hypothesis, even with > or < as the symbol in the alternative hypothesis.
This practice is acceptable because we only make the decision to reject or not reject the null hypothesis. A YouTube element has been excluded from this version of the text. You can view it online here: http://pb.libretexts.org/esm/?p=118

### Example 1

We want to test if More than 30% of the registered voters in Santa Clara County voted in the primary election. State the null and alternative hypothesis.
[hidden-answer a=”384825″]H0: No more than 30% of the registered voters in Santa Clara County voted in the primary election. p ≤ 30[/hidden-answer]
[hidden-answer a=”255281″]Ha: More than 30% of the registered voters in Santa Clara County voted in the primary election. p > 30[/hidden-answer]

### Try It

A medical trial is conducted to test whether or not a new medicine reduces cholesterol by 25%. State the null and alternative hypotheses.

[practice-area rows=”2″][/practice-area]
H0 : The drug reduces cholesterol by 25%. p = 0.25
Ha : The drug does not reduce cholesterol by 25%. p ≠ 0.25[/hidden-answer]

## Example 2

We want to test whether the mean GPA of students in American colleges is different from 2.0 (out of 4.0). The null and alternative hypotheses are:

### Try It

We want to test whether the mean height of eighth graders is 66 inches. State the null and alternative hypotheses. Fill in the correct symbol (=, ≠, ≥, <, ≤, >) for the null and alternative hypotheses.

H0: μ __ 66

Ha:μ __ 66

[practice-area rows=”1″][/practice-area]
H0 : μ = 66

## Example 3

We want to test if college students take less than five years to graduate from college, on the average.
The null and alternative hypotheses are:

### Try It

We want to test if the time to teach a lesson plan is fewer than 45 minutes. State the null and alternative hypotheses.

[practice-area rows=”1″][/practice-area]
H0: μ ≥ 45

## Example 4

In an issue of U.S. News and World Report, an article on school standards stated that about half of all students in France, Germany, and Israel take advanced placement exams and a third pass. The same article stated that 6.6% of U.S. students take advanced placement exams and 4.4% pass. Test if the percentage of U.S. students who take advanced placement exams is more than 6.6%.
State the null and alternative hypotheses.

### Try It

On a state driver’s test, about 40% pass the test on the first try. We want to test if more than 40% pass on the first try.
State the null and alternative hypotheses.

[practice-area rows=”2″][/practice-area]
H0: p = 0.40

## Concept Review

In a hypothesis test, sample data is evaluated in order to arrive at a decision about some type of claim. If certain conditions about the sample are satisfied, then the claim can be evaluated for a population. In a hypothesis test, we: Evaluate the null hypothesis, typically denoted with H0. The null is not rejected unless the hypothesis test shows otherwise. The null statement must always contain some form of equality (=, ≤ or ≥) Always write the alternative hypothesis, typically denoted with Ha or H1, using less than, greater than, or not equals symbols, i.e., (≠, >, or <). If we reject the null hypothesis, then we can assume there is enough evidence to support the alternative hypothesis. Never state that a claim is proven true or false. Keep in mind the underlying fact that hypothesis testing is based on probability laws; therefore, we can talk only in terms of non-absolute certainties.