Difference Between Paradigm and Theory

Science is a large field and has various terms and ideologies being incorporated, not only into their facts and explanations but also into our daily life. Two such terms are paradigm and theory.

Paradigm and theory are the two terms that are inter-dependent. Like in the case of analyzing and evaluating, one must have a paradigm before writing a theory.

Paradigm vs Theory

The main difference between Paradigm and Theory is that while a paradigm is only a reference point or framework for reference for showing perspectives of reality, a theory is a statement that verifies hypothesis with scientifically proven data.

Paradigm vs Theory

Paradigm is the reference point for a theory. It is a framework or structure that embodies a lot of theories with a generic explanation for the intellectually disciplined crowd.

The theory is verified hypothesis with various scientifically proven results for support.

Comparison Table between Paradigm and Theory

Parameters of ComparisonParadigmTheory
MeaningThe reference point for the theoryVerified hypothesis
Considered to beFramework for referenceCreation of new knowledge
UsesShowing a perspective of reality and explanation to the peopleFor predicting natural phenomenon or explaining an existing phenomenon
ChangeWorks as an embodiment of theories so not as accurate as theory.Can be tested and falsified
ContentExperimental or research theoriesScientifically proven results
NaturePhilosophical in natureIdeological in nature
ApproachHas a more general approachSpecific to the topic

What is Paradigm?

The word ‘paradigm’ has a Greek origin from the word ‘paradeigma’ that means example, sample or pattern. So paradigm can be described as a set of ideas, research material, postulates etc. for a theory.

Paradigm is philosophical and has a general approach to it since it does not have any proof of existence.

A paradigm can be considered to be in philosophical as well as scientific sense. It shows the reality in different perspectives for the intellectually disciplined crowd. This provides a sense of understanding of various aspects of nature.

In science, we have absolute truth and during such cases, two paradigms cannot stand together and this phenomenon is called a paradigm shift.


What is Theory?

Theory can be said as a verified hypothesis or statement that has many scientifically proven results for proof of its existence.

It is ideological and also has a more specific approach. Unlike paradigm, a theory can be proven wrong since it is more specific.

Theory can also be classified according to the field they are being used in but the most known type is the scientific theory. This includes all the statements, hypothesis and postulates that are proven from the paradigm.

Scientifically, it is said to be statements or explanations of a recurring phenomenon that has been proved repeatedly through scientific calculations, research and hypothesis.


Main Differences Between Paradigm and Theory

  1. The paradigm means a reference point to develop a theory whereas the theory is considered to be a verified hypothesis. It is a defined statement to prove a hypothesis.
  2. Paradigm cannot be given as a statement but only be used as a framework of reference for developing a theory. A theory is considered to be the creation of new knowledge as each theory gives a different ideology.


Even though paradigm and theory involve structuring and forming new statements and proofs with a hypothesis for support, they are not the same. They are inter-dependent like in the case of analyzing and evaluating.

Paradigm is the structure or framework for a theory to develop from it. They are also considered to be an embodiment of various theories and ideologies for them.

The theory is the properly researched and proven statement that is supported by a hypothesis. The theory is also considered to be the creation of new knowledge that can be developed further with more research.

The difference between paradigm and theory is that while paradigm has a more general approach because it is not backed by any research materials, a theory is specific with a statement and research materials for proof.


  1. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1987-98365-000
  2. http://biblioteca.cejamericas.org/handle/2015/2163
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