How to Do Hypothesis Testing in R

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In the world of research and data-driven decision making, hypothesis testing is a critical tool. Hypothesis testing in R can be accomplished in several ways, depending on the nature of the data and the specific test you want to run. In this article, we will discuss hypothesis testing, its importance, different types of hypothesis tests, and how to conduct these tests in R.

Introduction to Hypothesis Testing

Hypothesis testing is a statistical method that is used in making statistical decisions using experimental data. It is basically an assumption that we make about the population parameter. This assumption may or may not be true. Hypothesis testing is a critical tool in inferential statistics, allowing researchers to infer conclusions about a population based on a sample of data.

Hypothesis testing generally starts with a null hypothesis (H0) that represents a theory that has been put forward, either because it is believed to be true or because it is used as a basis for argument. A researcher might claim, for example, that two groups are the same. The alternative hypothesis (H1 or Ha) is a statement that directly contradicts the null hypothesis by stating that the actual value of a population parameter is less than, greater than, or not equal to the value stated in the null hypothesis.

Installing and Loading Necessary Libraries

Before we proceed with the types of hypothesis tests and their implementation in R, let’s install and load the necessary packages. You can install the packages by using the command install.packages(), and load them using the library() command.

install.packages(c("ggplot2", "tidyverse", "dplyr", "car"))

Types of Hypothesis Tests

There are various types of hypothesis tests in R, each designed to analyze different types of data and different kinds of research questions. The type of hypothesis test you choose to run depends on your data and your research question. Here are some of the most common types of hypothesis tests:

  1. T-test: The t-test is used to compare the means of two groups. In R, this is performed using the t.test() function.
  2. ANOVA (Analysis of Variance): ANOVA is used when one wants to compare the means of more than two groups. In R, you can perform an ANOVA using the aov() function.
  3. Chi-square test: The Chi-square test is used to determine whether there is a significant association between two categorical variables. In R, this can be performed using the chisq.test() function.
  4. Correlation test: The correlation test is used to check the relationship between two continuous variables. In R, this can be done using the cor.test() function.

Performing Hypothesis Testing in R

Now let’s explore how to perform these hypothesis tests in R.


Let’s start with the t-test.

# Create a binary factor variable
mtcars$cyl_binary <- ifelse(mtcars$cyl == 4, "4 cylinders", "More than 4 cylinders")

# Perform the t-test
t.test(mpg ~ cyl_binary, data = mtcars)

In the above R code, ifelse() function is used to create a new binary variable cyl_binary. This new variable is “4 cylinders” if cyl equals 4 and “More than 4 cylinders” otherwise. Then, we perform the t-test using this new binary variable.


For ANOVA, consider an example where we have a dataset ‘PlantGrowth’ and we want to see if the type of treatment (ctrl, trt1, trt2) affects plant growth. Here, the null hypothesis is that there’s no difference in mean plant growth between the treatment groups.

aov_result <- aov(weight ~ group, data = PlantGrowth)

The aov() function is used to perform the ANOVA test and the summary() function is used to get the result of the test.

Chi-Square Test

The Chi-square test is used for categorical data. For example, we can use the built-in dataset mtcars and check if there is an association between the number of cylinders (cyl) and the type of transmission (am).

chisq_result <- chisq.test(mtcars$cyl, mtcars$am)

Here, chisq.test() performs the Chi-square test, and the print() function is used to get the result.

Correlation Test

For the correlation test, we will use the built-in dataset mtcars and check if there is a correlation between mpg (Miles/(US) gallon) and disp (Displacement (

cor_result <- cor.test(mtcars$mpg, mtcars$disp)

Here, cor.test() is used to perform the correlation test, and print() is used to print the result.

Interpreting the Results

The output of each test contains a p-value. The p-value is used in hypothesis testing to help you support or reject the null hypothesis. It represents the probability that the results of your test occurred at random. If p-value ≤ 0.05, we reject the null hypothesis, and if p-value > 0.05, we fail to reject the null hypothesis.


This guide has provided a comprehensive introduction to performing hypothesis testing in R. Hypothesis testing is a vital tool in statistics to determine whether a result is statistically significant, whether this result occurred by chance, or whether there is a pattern to the data observed. As seen above, R provides various functions to perform these tests efficiently. As with all statistical analyses, it’s important to understand your data and the assumptions underlying each test to choose the appropriate test and interpret the results correctly.

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