An example of how to test a hypothesis

Yesterday, I wrote about what makes a good scientific study and how you can prevent fooling yourself. The key was to remain skeptical and create studies that are blinded.

Here is a video which shows just how one can be done. Granted this video is not about selecting a cosmetic ingredient level. However, it does illustrate the proper way to do a scientific study.

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Here’s what they do.

1. Start with a hypothesis. In the video, the hypothesis is that people with different immune systems will be more attractive to each other than people with similar immune systems.

2. Figure out a way to test the hypothesis. There are a number of implications of this hypothesis that can be tested. In this video, they look at the relationship between natural odor preference and genetic makeup.
In the video, the hypothesis is that a woman’s natural odor will be prefered by a man based on their mutual genetic composition. If the hypothesis is correct, the man should pick the woman who has the least common genetic immune system.

3. Do a blinded test. The evaluator is unaware of which sample is which so he is blinded and therefore, unbiased. Of course, this isn’t a perfectly blinded test because the evaluator does have some information about the study (like why he should pick a difference). A better study would have been to have evaluators that are completely unaware of the purpose of smelling the t-shirts.

However, in cosmetic formulating it’s rare that you could use unaware panelists to help in this way.

This study is a bit simplified and for real science you need to be more rigorous (e.g. have a lot more panelists) but overall, this type of study is a nice example of how you should create studies for evaluating new raw materials in your cosmetic formulas.


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