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Paradigm vs. Theory: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sawaira Riaz || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on October 23, 2023
A paradigm is a framework or model guiding beliefs and practices, while a theory is a tested explanation or hypothesis about a phenomenon.

Key Differences

A paradigm encompasses a broad understanding that informs our perspective in a given field. It is a set of beliefs, values, or practices that make up the way we view the world, often unconsciously. A theory, on the other hand, is more specific. It provides a structured explanation or hypothesis about a certain phenomenon based on observations and evidence.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023
Paradigms influence how we approach problems and seek solutions. They shape the methods we use, the questions we ask, and the answers we consider valid. Theories, conversely, are the results of these methods and approaches, providing explanations that can be tested, validated, or refuted.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023
It is possible for multiple theories to exist within a single paradigm. The paradigm provides the overarching structure, guiding the formulation and validation of theories. As research progresses, theories might evolve, be replaced, or be disproven, but the paradigm typically remains stable until a significant shift in understanding occurs.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023
When such a significant shift in perspective happens, it's often referred to as a "paradigm shift." This term implies a fundamental change in the foundational concepts within a field. In contrast, when a theory is disproven or replaced, it doesn't necessarily indicate a shift in the broader paradigm.
Janet White
Oct 23, 2023
In essence, while paradigms act as broad lenses shaping our view and approach to the world, theories serve as tools within these paradigms, offering specific explanations and predictions about certain aspects of that world.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 23, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Definition

A model or framework guiding beliefs and practices
A tested explanation or hypothesis about a phenomenon
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Scope

Broader
More specific
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Stability

Generally stable, changes result in paradigm shifts
Can change frequently based on new evidence
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Relation to evidence

Framework for interpreting evidence
Directly based on evidence
Janet White
Oct 23, 2023

Number within a field

Typically one dominant paradigm at a time
Multiple theories can exist within a paradigm
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023
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Paradigm and Theory Definitions

Paradigm

A paradigm is a dominant model or pattern in a particular field.
The heliocentric model was a paradigm shift in astronomy.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 23, 2023

Theory

Theories are based on a hypothesis and are backed by evidence.
Darwin's theory of evolution is supported by fossil records.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Paradigm

A paradigm can be an example that serves as a model or pattern.
Her approach to the problem became the paradigm for future research.
Janet White
Oct 23, 2023

Theory

A theory can provide predictions about future events or phenomena.
Quantum theory predicts behaviors at the subatomic level.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Paradigm

Paradigm refers to a set of beliefs or practices governing an area of activity.
The digital revolution created a new paradigm in communication.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Theory

A theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world.
Einstein's theory of relativity changed our understanding of time and space.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 23, 2023

Paradigm

Paradigms often underlie and inform theoretical frameworks.
The quantum paradigm challenges our classical understanding of physics.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Theory

Theories can be tested and refined based on new evidence.
The string theory is still undergoing refinement and testing.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Paradigm

A paradigm shift is a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.
Introducing relativity caused a paradigm shift in the world of physics.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Theory

In common usage, theory can refer to a speculation or guess.
I have a theory about why he's always late to meetings.
Harlon Moss
Oct 23, 2023

Paradigm

One that serves as a pattern or model.
Sumera Saeed
Mar 02, 2020

Theory

A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.
Sumera Saeed
Mar 02, 2020

FAQs

Can theories exist across different paradigms?

Typically, theories are formulated within the confines of a specific paradigm.
Janet White
Oct 23, 2023

What is a paradigm shift?

A paradigm shift is a fundamental change in the foundational concepts or beliefs within a field.
Sara Rehman
Oct 23, 2023

What is a paradigm?

A paradigm is a framework or model guiding beliefs and practices in a particular field.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

How does a theory differ from a hypothesis?

A theory is a tested and substantiated explanation, while a hypothesis is an untested proposition or prediction.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 23, 2023

Is a theory always correct?

No, theories can be disproven or refined based on new evidence or findings.
Harlon Moss
Oct 23, 2023

Do paradigms exist only in science?

No, paradigms exist in various fields, from art to philosophy to business.
Harlon Moss
Oct 23, 2023

How is a theory validated?

A theory is validated through testing, evidence gathering, and peer review.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 23, 2023

How do theories evolve?

Theories evolve based on new research, evidence, and understanding.
Janet White
Oct 23, 2023

Why might a theory be rejected?

A theory might be rejected due to insufficient evidence or if newer evidence contradicts it.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Do all scientists agree on a particular theory?

No, scientific theories can be subjects of debate and disagreement among scientists.
Sara Rehman
Oct 23, 2023

Can paradigms and theories coexist?

Yes, paradigms provide the broader framework within which theories operate.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Why are paradigms important?

Paradigms shape how we view, understand, and approach problems in a specific field.
Harlon Moss
Oct 23, 2023

Can multiple theories exist within one paradigm?

Yes, multiple theories can operate within the framework of a single paradigm.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Can a theory exist without a paradigm?

Typically, theories are developed within the context of a paradigm, which provides the foundational framework.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 23, 2023

Is every paradigm shift revolutionary?

While many paradigm shifts are revolutionary, the degree of change can vary.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

How are new theories formed?

New theories emerge from observations, research, hypotheses, and the testing of these hypotheses.
Harlon Moss
Oct 23, 2023

What causes a paradigm to change?

New discoveries, innovations, or shifts in understanding can lead to changes in a paradigm.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 23, 2023

Are paradigms always based on facts?

Paradigms are based on prevailing beliefs and practices, which may or may not be factual.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Is every paradigm universally accepted?

No, different paradigms can coexist, especially across different cultures or disciplines.
Janet White
Oct 23, 2023

Can a paradigm change without a paradigm shift?

Minor adjustments might occur, but fundamental changes in a paradigm are termed as "paradigm shifts."
Harlon Moss
Oct 23, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.

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