Are you confused about the difference between a theory and a scientific theory? You’re not alone.

While the terms are often used interchangeably, they actually have distinct meanings in the world of science. Let’s dive into what sets them apart.

What is a Theory?

A theory is a well-established explanation for a phenomenon that has been supported by extensive testing and evidence. It is based on observations, experiments, and data collected over time. Theories can be applied to many different fields, including physics, biology, psychology, and sociology.

Examples of Theories:

What is a Scientific Theory?

A scientific theory is similar to a regular theory in that it is an explanation for a phenomenon that has been extensively tested and supported by evidence. However, there is one key difference: scientific theories are based on the scientific method.

The scientific method involves making observations, forming hypotheses, conducting experiments, and analyzing data to test those hypotheses. A hypothesis becomes a scientific theory when it has been thoroughly tested and repeatedly confirmed through experimentation and observation.

Examples of Scientific Theories:

Key Differences Between Theories and Scientific Theories:

While theories and scientific theories share some similarities, there are some key differences between them:

The Scientific Method: As mentioned earlier, scientific theories are based on the scientific method whereas regular theories may not be.

Evidence: Both types of theories must be supported by evidence but in the case of scientific theories it must be empirical evidence that has been rigorously tested.

Predictive Power: Scientific theories have the ability to make accurate predictions about future events based on the evidence gathered. Regular theories may not be able to do this.


In summary, while both theories and scientific theories are explanations for phenomena that have been well-supported by evidence, scientific theories go a step further in their rigorous application of the scientific method and their ability to make accurate predictions. Understanding the difference between these two terms is important in order to properly communicate and understand scientific concepts.