Impact Factor

Mini Review ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 22 February 2011 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00024

Moving beyond traditional null hypothesis testing: evaluating expectations directly

Rens Van de Schoot1*, Herbert Hoijtink1 and Romeijn Jan-Willem2
  • 1 Department of Methods and Statistics, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • 2 Department of Philosophy, Groningen University, Groningen, Netherlands

This mini-review illustrates that testing the traditional null hypothesis is not always the appropriate strategy. Half in jest, we discuss Aristotle’s scientific investigations into the shape of the earth in the context of evaluating the traditional null hypothesis. We conclude that Aristotle was actually interested in evaluating informative hypotheses. In contemporary science the situation is not much different. That is, many researchers have no particular interest in the traditional null hypothesis. More can be learned from data by evaluating specific expectations, or so-called informative hypotheses, than by testing the traditional null hypothesis. These informative hypotheses will be introduced while providing an overview of the literature on evaluating informative hypothesis.

Keywords: null hypothesis testing, Bayesian analysis, informative hypothesis, inequality constraints

Citation: Van de Schoot R, Hoijtink H and Jan-Willem R (2011) Moving beyond traditional null hypothesis testing: evaluating expectations directly. Front. Psychology 2:24. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00024

Received: 16 September 2010; Accepted: 07 February 2011;
Published online: 22 February 2011.

Edited by:

Heather M. Buzick, Educational Testing Service, USA

Reviewed by:

Andrew Jones, American Board of Surgery, USA
Fiona Fidler, LaTrobe University, Australia

Copyright: © 2011 Van de Schoot, Hoijtink and Jan-Willem. This is an open-access article subject to an exclusive license agreement between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Rens Van de Schoot, Department of Methodology and Statistics, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80.140, 3508 TC Utrecht, Netherlands. e-mail: a.g.j.vandeschoot@uu.nl