You know that a hypothesis test is used to determine the validity of a null hypothesis. Once again, the null hypothesis states that there is no actual difference between the two populations of data. But what result does a hypothesis test actually return, and how can you interpret it?

A hypothesis test returns a few numeric measures, most of which are out of the scope of this introductory lesson. Here we will focus on one: p-values. P-values help determine how confident you can be in validating the null hypothesis. In this context, a p-value is the probability that, assuming the null hypothesis is true, you would see at least such a difference in the sample means of your data.

Consider the experiment on history and chemistry majors and their interest in volleyball from a previous exercise:

  • Null Hypothesis: "History and chemistry students are interested in volleyball at the same rates"
  • Experiment Sample Means: 34% of history majors and 39% of chemistry majors sign up for the volleyball class

Assuming the null hypothesis is true, there is no actual difference in preference for volleyball between all history and chemistry majors, and any difference present in the experiment data is the result of sampling error. Imagine you run a hypothesis test on this experiment data and it returns a p-value of 0.04. A p-value of 0.04 indicates that you could expect to see a difference of at least 5% (calculated as 39% - 34% = 5%) in the sample means only 4% of the time.

Essentially, if you ran this same experiment 100 times, you would expect to see as large a difference in the sample means only 4 times given the assumption that there is no actual difference between the populations (i.e. they have the same mean).

Seems like a really small probability, right? Are you thinking about rejecting the null hypothesis you originally stated?



You are big fan of apples, so you gather 10 green and 10 red apples to compare their weights. The green apples average 150 grams in weight, and the red apples average 160 grams in weight.

You run a hypothesis test to see if there is a significant difference in the weight of green and red apples. The test returns a p-value of 0.2. Which statement (st_1, st_2, st_3, or st_4) indicates how this p-value can be interpreted?

Update the value of interpretation with the string "st_1", "st_2", "st_3", or "st_4" depending on your answer.

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