Interview expectancies: awareness of potential biases influences behaviour in interviewees

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

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Expectancy effects are known to influence behaviour so that what is expected appears to be true. In the present study, expectancy was induced using (fabricated) information about honesty and specific group membership. We tested Targets in a non-accusatory interview environment using neutral and information-gathering type questions. We hypothesized that persons exposed to the negative information (the expectancy) would demonstrate behaviour consistent with increased cognitive load, and we found evidence to support this prediction. Due to the investigative nature of the information gathering questions, we also expected that Targets exposed to the expectancy would exhibit more of these behaviours in the investigative portion of the interview. We found some behaviour 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
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
Issue number1
Early online date22 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


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


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