EXAMPLE - Are athletics detrimental or beneficial? (continued)
Let's return to our example. Scientists working within the theory
that athletics are detrimental might ask research questions relating
to the swollen heart of athletes. Here's how that might work:
- Research question: How do athletics impact cardiovascular health?
- Hypothesis: The enlarged heart of athletes contributes to health
- Notice that this hypothesis is developed by combining the
overall theoretical framework (athletics are bad) with some
specific experimental results (athletes have enlarged hearts).
- Specific prediction: Athletes have a greater risk of heart attacks
than the general population.
- Notice that this prediction can be directly tested by experiment.
- Experiment: The rate of heart attacks is measured in athletes
Note that the scientific process is a continuous process. The specific
result obtained from an experiment can be used to modify the hypothesis.
For example, scientists might refine their initial hypothesis to
state "The enlarged heart of elderly athletes contributes
to health problems." Again, specific predictions could be made
and these predictions tested by experiment.
If experimental testing repeatedly does not support the hypotheses
that are developed within the theoretical framework, then the overall
theoretical framework may be questioned. Scientists might then begin
to develop a new theoretical framework.
In the example of athletics, the theory that athletics are detrimental
to health was not supported by experimental evidence. Thus, a new
theoretical construct was developed. Today, the general theory about
exercise and health is that exercise is required for proper health.
Exercise scientists develop hypotheses using this theory as a guide.