Friday 3 March 2017

Hypothesis, Theory, Exploratory Method, Confirmatory Method

Key Terms


It is a prediction or educated guess. It is a formal statement of the researcher’s prediction of the relationship that exists among the variables under the investigation.


It refers to an explanation that discusses how a phenomenon operates and why it operates as it does. Theory often refers to a generalization or set of generalizations that are used systematically to explain some phenomenon. In other words, a well-developed theory explains how something operates in general.
    Research: Exploratory Method
    Research: Exploratory Method

Exploratory method: 

It is a bottom-up (i.e., movement from data to patterns to theory) or theory-generation approach to research. It includes three steps—first, the researcher starts by making observations; second, the researcher studies the observations and searches for patterns (i.e., a statement of what is occurring); and third, the researcher makes a tentative conclusion or a generalization about the pattern or how some aspect of the world operates. This exploratory method is sometimes called the inductive method because it moves from the “particular to the general”.

Confirmatory method: 

It is a top-down (i.e., movement from theory to hypothesis to data) or theory-testing approach to research. It also includes three steps—first, the researcher states a hypothesis; second, the researcher collects data to be used to test the hypothesis empirically; and third, the researcher decides tentatively to accept or reject the hypothesis on the basis of the data. This confirmatory method is sometimes called the deductive method because it moves from the “general to the particular”.

Criterion of falsifiability: 

The criterion of falsifiability is the property of a statement or theory that it is capable of being refuted by experience. It also says that we should not selectively search for confirming evidence for our beliefs and explanations and then stop with that so-called evidence. Good researchers carefully search for and examine any negative evidence that operates against their beliefs, research conclusions, and theoretical explanations.

Rule of parsimony: 

It is another criterion for evaluating theories. A theory is parsimonious when it is simple, concise, and succinct. For example, if two competing theories explain and predict a phenomenon equally well, then the more parsimonious theory is to be preferred according to the rule of parsimony. In other words, simple theories are preferred over highly complex ones, other things being equal.


It refers to research examining the same variables with different people. Replication by other researchers should make you more confident about a research finding because the resulting evidence is much stronger.

Principle of evidence: 

It refers to the philosophical idea that empirical research provides evidence, not proof. Therefore, from now onwards, whenever you want to use the world proof, just use the word evidence. In research, slogan goes like this: “It is about evidence, not proof!” We call this idea the principle of evidence.

Note: Both methods—Exploratory as well as Confirmatory—use empirical data, but their purpose is different.