The effects of demand characteristics in a student population : an honors thesis (HONRS 499)
The concept of demand characteristics asserts that people's beliefs and behaviors can be influenced by cues in the environment or given by others. The altered responses can be either conscious or unconscious. This experiment looked at the responses of seventy-five undergraduate students and studied how participants scored on an empathy questionnaire when one group was given instructions that were designed to influence their responses. It was predicted that the group receiving the manipulated empathy instructions would have a higher overall empathy score than the group who were asked only to answer a personality questionnaire. There was no significant difference in the scores between the two groups. These results may indicate that people are not as susceptible to demand characteristics, or that empathy cannot be influenced as easily as some other traits.