In research, and particularly psychology
, demand characteristics
refers to an experimental artifact where participants form an interpretation of the experiment's purpose and unconsciously change their behavior accordingly. Pioneering research was conducted on demand characteristics by Martin Orne
. Typically, they are considered a confounding variable
, exerting an effect on behavior other than that intended by the experimenter.
A possible reason for demand characteristics is the expectation from the participant that he or she will somehow be evaluated and thus figures out a way to 'beat' the experiment to attain good scores in the alleged evaluation.
Most demand characteristics involve the participant taking on a role in the experiment. These roles include:
- The good participant role in which the participant behaves in a way to confirm the experimenter's hypothesis.
- The bad participant role in which the participant behaves in a way to disconfirm the experimenter's hypothesis.
- The faithful participant role in which the participant follows the instructions given provided in the experiment to the letter.
- The apprehensive participant role in which the participant is so concerned about evaluation by the experimenter that the participant behaves in a socially desirable way.