# How do we decide whether to reject the null hypothesis?

A significance test examines whether the null hypothesis provides a plausible explanation of the data. The *null hypothesis* itself does not involve the data. It is a statement about a parameter (a numerical characteristic of the population). These population values might be proportions or means or differences between means or proportions or correlations or odds ratios or any other numerical summary of the population. The *alternative hypothesis* is typically the research hypothesis of interest. Here are some examples.

## State Null and Alternative Hypotheses

### Next section: to Inferential statistics (testing hypotheses)

The final conclusion is made by comparing the test statistic (which is a summary of the information observed in the sample) to the decision rule. The final conclusion will be either to reject the null hypothesis (because the sample data are very unlikely if the null hypothesis is true) or not to reject the null hypothesis (because the sample data are not very unlikely).

### State Null and Alternative Hypotheses

This criticism only applies to two-tailed tests, where the null hypothesis is "Things are exactly the same" and the alternative is "Things are different." Presumably these critics think it would be okay to do a one-tailed test with a null hypothesis like "Foot length of male chickens is the same as, or less than, that of females," because the null hypothesis that male chickens have smaller feet than females could be true. So if you're worried about this issue, you could think of a two-tailed test, where the null hypothesis is that things are the same, as shorthand for doing two one-tailed tests. A significant rejection of the null hypothesis in a two-tailed test would then be the equivalent of rejecting one of the two one-tailed null hypotheses.