What is the basic difference between a hypothesis and a theory?

Expert Answers
msparks1009 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A hypothesis is made before experimentation begins, and theories are made and accepted afterwards. While studying something, one forms an idea, or prediction, of what they think will happen during their research. For example, if one were looking at the angle of a bottle rocket relative to the maximum height of that rocket, they might predict that the lower the angle of elevation, the lower the maximum height will be. Through thorough research and multiple experiments using different values, one can then develop a theory of an idea generally accepted by the masses.

dwale | Student

A theory is a set of ideas that claim to explain a phenomenon, while a hypothesis is an intelligent guess as to the solution of a problem. Hypotheses can be tested when data collected are subjected to analysis using appropriate statistics. Many theories already in existence have not been tested. Theories form the basis for research, while hypotheses are central to most research works.