Interview expectancies: awareness of potential biases influences behaviour in interviewees

Nicole M. Adams-Quackenbush*, Robert Horselenberg, Josephine Hubert, Aldert Vrij, Peter van Koppen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Expectancy effects are known to influence behaviour so that what is expected appears to be true. In this study, expectancy was induced using (fabricated) information about honesty and specific group membership. Targets were tested in a non-accusatory interview environment using neutral and information-gathering questions. It was hypothesized that those exposed to the negative information (the expectancy) would demonstrate behaviour consistent with an increased cognitive load, and evidence was found to support this prediction. Due to the investigative nature of the information-gathering questions, it was also expected that the targets exposed to the expectancy would exhibit more of these behaviours in the investigative portion of the interview. Some behaviour was found to support this prediction (i.e. shorter responses and increased speech disturbances); however, indicators of performance altering load were not observed during this phase of the interview. These findings support the hypothesis that expectancy effects can noticeably alter interviewee behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-166
Number of pages17
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019


  • cognitive load
  • expectancy effects
  • information-gathering
  • interviewee behaviour
  • investigative interviews
  • stereotype activation
  • truth-tellers


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