Upcoming Courses

go to course
UI Design Patterns for Successful Software
88% booked. Starts in 7 days
go to course
Affordances: Designing Intuitive User Interfaces
87% booked. Starts in 8 days

Featured chapter

Marc Hassenzahl explains the fascinating concept of User Experience and Experience Design. Commentaries by Don Norman, Eric Reiss, Mark Blythe, and Whitney Hess

User Experience and Experience Design !


Our Latest Books

The Social Design of Technical Systems: Building technologies for communities. 2nd Edition
by Brian Whitworth and Adnan Ahmad
start reading
Gamification at Work: Designing Engaging Business Software
by Janaki Mythily Kumar and Mario Herger
start reading
The Social Design of Technical Systems: Building technologies for communities
by Brian Whitworth and Adnan Ahmad
start reading
The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed.
by Mads Soegaard and Rikke Friis Dam
start reading

Demand Characteristics

Demand Characteristics is a term used in Cognitive Psychology to denote the situation where the results of an experiment are biased because the experimenters' expectancies regarding the performance of the participants on a particular task create an implicit demand for the participants to perform as expected. Margarat Intons-Peterson (1983) has investigated demand characteristics through experiments in which she manipulated with her participants' performance by 'leaking' what she expected the results would be like. If participants in the experiment knew that Margarat Intons-Peterson expected their performance on task A to be better than that of task B, their actual performance on task A would in fact be comparatively better (measured relative to a control group of participants who performed task A not knowing about the expectancies).

Relevance for interaction design

People apparently have a tendency to conform to known expectancies and are good at picking up the designer's intentions, expectations, and opinions. Even subtle and implicit cues like body language, wording of a phrase etc is enough to make your expectancies known to the user. Therefore, any user events (prototyping sessions, workshops etc.) should be carefully planed with regards to how the users are informed about the event. If, for example, they are given three competing prototypes and they somehow pick up your expectancies (maybe one prototype looks more 'finished' than the others), it will influence the results. Keeping demand characteristics in mind will help a designer avoid its resulting methodological problems.


Join our community and advance:




Join our community!

User-contributed notes

Give us your opinion! Do you have any comments/additions
that you would like other visitors to see?

comment You (your email) say: Oct 26th, 2014
Oct 26
Add a thoughtful commentary or note to this page ! 

will be spam-protected
How many?
= e.g. "6"
User ExperienceBy submitting you agree to the Site Terms


 what's this?

Intons-Peterson, M. J. (1983): Imagery paradigms: How vulnerable are they to experimenters' expectations?. In Journal of Experimental Psychology - Human Perception and Performance, 9 pp. 394-412.

Norman, Donald A. (1991): Cognitive artifacts. In: Carroll, John M. (ed.). "Designing Interaction: Psychology at the Human-Computer Interface". Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Presspp. 17-38

Sternberg, Robert J. (1996): Cognitive Psychology. 2nd. Ed.. Harcourt Brace College Publishers