Indicators and Variables

Katherine Vogel inquired:

Q. Are two hypotheses enough? I have 8 indicators -- four for each concept. I'm torn between making each indicator a hypothesis (The less postsecondary students per 100,000, the lower the human rights ratings will be), or only making each concept a hypotheses (the less educated a country is, the lower their human rights rating will be)

A. I'm not sure that you grasp the distinctions between an indicator, independent and dependent variables, and hypotheses. An indicator is a variable that is used to tap a concept, regardless of whether the concept poses as an independent or dependent variable. Hypotheses assert a relationship between an independent variable and a dependent variable. So neither indicators nor concepts can be hypotheses by themselves, for hypotheses are statements of relationships between two variables.

What you may mean is whether you should INCORPORATE the indicators or the concepts into hypotheses. Indicators are incorporated into testable hypotheses; concepts are involved in general theories.

Q. Am I making any sense? I guess in blunt terms the question is: Which is better: a) having only 2 hypotheses, only stating the concepts I'm testing; b) having 8 hypotheses, stating all of the minute operationalized things I'm testing, or c) somewhere in between or d) it doesn't matter either way...

A. The second option (b) is better.