A decision procedure tries to say whether some hypothesis H holds or does not (usually based on some observed data, O). If it says H does not hold, it is said to give a negative. If, in fact, H does hold, this is a false negative.

For procedures that always decide in the positive or in the negative, there is usually a tradeoff between false negatives and false positives.

See also selectivity.

A 'false negative' can occur on a home pregnancy test. This result means that the at-home testing results report that the woman is NOT pregnant when she is. At-home pregnancy tests are sometimes sold in 2-packs for women to use both tests at the same time. Testing differently using the same method at the same time is an indication of a false positive or false negative result.

A false negative may occur if the woman is tested too early into her pregnancy. The hCG buildup in her urine might not be in a high enough concentration to be detected by the at-home pregnancy test. Fertilized ovums have been known to drift in the uterus for days before implanting in the uterine wall.

These false negatives are rare. At-home pregnancy tests are most accurate in the morning when the hCG is most concentrated in the urine.

In biometrics, this term refers to the case where an authentication system erroneously denies access to an authorized entity.

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